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DCPS Teachers Ratify Contract

Although only 1,837 teachers of approximately 3,400 voted, DCPS teachers ratified on June 2, 2010 a contract that some describe as historic because its voluntary individual performance-pay system that is tied to student academic growth.  President of the Washington Teachers Union George Parker released this statement on Wednesday:

“After two and a half years of negotiations, I am extremely pleased that our members have voted “Yes” on an agreement that will provide teachers with the tools, resources and respect so that all children in DC Public Schools will have a quality education.

This contract invests in teachers’ professional growth, creates conditions for success for students, boosts teacher pay so that it is highly competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, provides resources necessary to improve teaching and learning, focuses on student discipline and includes new checks and balances related to excessing and reduction in force.

I would like to thank our teachers for letting their collective voice be heard by voting in support of a contract that is good for kids and fair to teachers. The Washington Teachers’ Union is committed to continuing our efforts to ensure that teachers are provided with the tools and resources they need to improve education in DC Public Schools.

It is now up to the DC City Council to approve the compensation so the real work can begin.”

Base Salary Increases—The Agreement provides an increase of 20 percent over five years (2007-08 through 2011-12) at the following rates: 3 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent, 4 percent and 5 percent.  The raises for 2007-08, 2008-09 and the appropriate portion of 2009-10 will be paid retroactively following ratification by the WTU membership and approval by the D.C. city council.


To view the entire WTU/DCPS Tentative Agreement, click here.

Reports not supportive of performance-pay model

Performance-Pay Model Shows No Achievement Edge

Education Week reports that “preliminary results from a Chicago program containing performance-based compensation for teachers show no evidence that it has boosted student achievement on math and reading tests, compared with a group of similar, nonparticipating schools, an analysis released today concludes.”

Post holds poll on Michelle Rhee

Washington Post Survey

Should the District make a long-term commitment to retaining Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee?

This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.

October enrollment audit numbers in

The DC Public Charter School Board report  a 2009 enrollment of 27,953, while

DCPS says the school system’s October count is 45,772.

Gray schedules hearings on DCPS RIF

Council Chair Vincent Gray has scheduled three hearings on DCPS issues:

    • October 16, 10:00 AM, R. 500 Wilson Building — Roundtable for public witnesses regarding DCPS RIF
    • October 29, 10:00 AM, Rm. 500 Wilson Building – Public oversight hearing to hear from the Mayor and the Chancellor.

    See Media coverage on DCPS RIF.

    Levy questions DCPS budget cut story

    October 2, 2009.  Mary Levy, noted schools budgeting expert, issued the following set of questions regarding the DCPS contention that budget cuts caused it to fire teachers and other staff :


    The Mayor and Chancellor have announced that the District of Columbia Public Schools face a “budget shortfall” of $35 to $40 million.  The press release cites (1) reductions in the DCPS budget by the DC Council, (2) equalization – adjusting school budgets to match fall enrollment, and (3) “right-sizing”.  Local school budgets are to be cut by $25 to $30 million, primarily through a Reduction-In-Force (lay-off) of school staff.

    What budget cuts? DCPS this year has more money for fewer projected students than in last year’s budget.

    • Although local funding was cut by the Mayor and Council, the “state stabilization funds” in the Economic Stimulus federal funding have largely made up the difference.  These funds are intended to help school districts avoid cuts and keep teachers.
    • The total DCPS budget, including federal and other grants, is $780 million, $15 million more than last year — an increase in per pupil funding of 9%.

    DCPS Budgets:  FY 2009 and FY 2010

    FY 2009 Approved

    FY 2010 Approved

    Assumed enrollment*



    Total funding-all funding sources*

    $ 764.6 M

    $ 779.6 M

    Dollars per pupil—all funding sources

    $ 16,014

    $ 17,448



    *Sources:  DC Government, FY 2010 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan (Congressional submission), Vol. 3 pp. D-2, D-14; FY 2009 Budget and Financial Plan (Congressional submission), Agency Budget Chapters Part 2, p. D-14.

    How can equalization require budget cuts? DCPS says that it now has about the number of students on which its budget was based.  Equalization only moves staff from schools below projections to schools above projections.

    What does “right-sizing” mean? Too many teachers?  At the beginning of last school year DCPS had lost over 4,300 students.  At a ratio of 20 students per classroom teacher, that could mean 200-250 “excess” teachers.  The system terminated 248 teachers in June 2009, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (US GAO).  Additional teachers resigned or retired.   Are there persons on the payroll not funded in the budget?  Are there contract or other costs not in the budget?

    Why lay off staff weeks after school has started? The enrollment drop was last year.  Reconstitution of school staff took place in June 2008 and June 2009.  If there were excess teachers, the problem was known then and a RIF, if needed could have been done in June, without disrupting instruction.

    Where are the data and other information justifying cutting school staff in October?

    –Mary Levy, October 2, 2009

    See Media coverage of firings.

    Gray says Council not cause of DCPS RIF

    September 17, 2009.  Today, council chair Vincent Gray charged schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty of using budget negotiations to shield their extensive reduction in force (RIF) of DCPS teachers and staff.  Gray, reminding voters that the Council has “found a way to fully fund the public education budget at last year’s levels while effectively closing a budget gap of nearly $140 million,” challenged Rhee’s and Fenty’s statements that Council cuts are forcing them to fire teachers and staff. “The Mayor and Chancellor’s attempts to characterize the Council’s action as a reduction are disingenuous and simply not accurate,” stated Gray in a press release. “Clearly, the Chancellor wanted to fire these “excessed” teachers and is seeking to scapegoat the Council for her policy decision.”

    Building College-readiness in DC schools

    The District of Columbia government has made a commitment to radically increase the number of district graduates attending and completing college.  The “Double the Numbers” initiative spans two mayors and is actively supported by district and federal agencies and nonprofits and private businesses.

    Ensuring that our high schools are aligning courses, teaching styles and standards to what post-secondary institutions expect of incoming freshmen is critical. The Alliance for Excellent Education in its report High School Teaching for the Twenty-First Century: Preparing Students for College provided this definition developed by David Conley at the University of Oregon of college-readiness:

    • First, habits of mind are what professors consistently identify as the skills needed for learning college-level content, including critical thinking skills such as analysis, interpretation, problem solving, and reasoning (National Research Council 2000; Lundell, et al. 2004).

    • Second, key content knowledge is the essential knowledge of each discipline that prepares students for advanced study, the “big ideas” of each content area. Numerous organizations and initiatives have carefully outlined those big ideas in core subjects (see below), and organizations like ACT and the Education Trust have identified thinking skills and teaching practices that lead students to develop college preparatory knowledge and skills (ACT 2006d, Education Trust 2005).

    • The third facet, academic behaviors, includes general skills, such as reading comprehension, time management, and note-taking, which students need to engage in college-level work. Metacognition, or self-awareness of how one is thinking and learning, is also a critical academic behavior for high school students to master, because they will no longer be able to count on teachers or on parents to keep track of their progress once they get to college.

    • Finally, contextual skills are practical skills for getting into and succeeding in college (“college knowledge”). These include understanding the admissions process, placement testing, financial aid, and the academic norms and expectations of college life, such as how to communicate with professors and peers in an academic setting (see Lundell, et al. 2004). Contextual skills are not generally the responsibility of classroom teachers, but they are key to a successful college transition, and disadvantaged students are less likely to possess them (Venezia, et al. 2003; Conley 2005). That is why organizations like the College Board have created courses like CollegeEd, an academic and career advisory course for grades seven through twelve that informs students about careers and college majors and what knowledge and skills students need to prepare for them (College Board 2007b).

    Required Reading: Rethinking High School

    Rethinking High School: Preparing Students for Success in College, Career, and Life

    This is the fourth report in a series focusing on secondary reform and redesign. Previous Rethinking High School reports include:

    Stanford report challenges charter school quality control

    Analyzing longitudinal data from 16 states, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University concluded that the problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools and their supporters face.”  The study, Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States, measures growth in the performance of charter school students to that of their traditional public school peers.  The sophisticated research design rendered complex findings:

    The analysis of total charter school effects, pooled student‐level data from all of the participating states and examined the aggregate effect of charter schools on student learning. The national pooled analysis of charter school impacts showed the following results:

    • Charter school students on average see a decrease in their academic growth in reading of .01 standard deviations compared to their traditional school peers. In math, their learning lags by .03 standard deviations on average. While the magnitude of these effects is small, they are both statistically significant.
    • The effects for charter school students are consistent across the spectrum of starting positions. In reading, charter school learning gains are smaller for all students but those whose starting scores are in the lowest or highest deciles. For math, the effect is consistent across the entire range.
    • Charter students in elementary and middle school grades have significantly higher rates of learning than their peers in traditional public schools, but students in charter high schools and charter multi‐level schools have significantly worse results.
    • Charter schools have different impacts on students based on their family backgrounds.

    For Blacks and Hispanics, their learning gains are significantly worse than that of their traditional school twins. However, charter schools are found to have better academic growth results for students in poverty.  English Language Learners realize significantly better learning gains in charter schools.  Students in Special Education programs have about the same outcomes.

    • Students do better in charter schools over time. First year charter students on average experience a decline in learning, which may reflect a combination of mobility effects and the experience of a charter school in its early years. Second and third years in charter schools see a significant reversal to positive gains.


    Ward 6 Stats

    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), for better or worse, is the measure by which schools receiving federal monies are judged. Ward 6 schools — both DCPS and charter schools — make up a portfolio of high performing, adequate and struggling schools on the AYP scale. Take a look, you may be surprised.