Unsatisfactory Evaluations: District of
Columbia

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: District of Columbia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/DC-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of District of Columbia's policies

The District of Columbia does not have state-level policy regarding teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations. 

Recommendations for District of Columbia

Require that all teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations be placed on improvement plans.
While the District of Columbia Public Schools IMPACT evaluation system suggests that teachers who receive minimally effective ratings seek out professional development opportunities, the District does not have state-level policy that clearly articulates that formal remediation plans will be utilized for teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations. The District should, therefore, codify policy that requires teachers who receive even one unsatisfactory evaluation be placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how and when progress will be measured.

Make eligibility for dismissal a consequence of unsatisfactory evaluations.
Although the District of Columbia Public Schools IMPACT evaluation system requires that teachers who receive minimally effective ratings for two consecutive years or one ineffective rating be separated from the district, this is not state-level policy. The District should codify policy that ensures that teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations be formally eligible for dismissal, regardless of whether they have tenure. 

State response to our analysis

The District of Columbia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The District noted that Race to the Top LEAs are required to have evaluation results inform retention and dismissal decisions. 

Last word

The District is encouraged to codify such policy so as to ensure that it applies to all LEAs and will last beyond the life of its Race to the Top grant.

How we graded

Negative evaluations should have meaningful consequences.

Teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers to improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. State policy should reflect the importance of evaluations so that teachers and principals alike take their consequences seriously. Accordingly, states should articulate the consequences of negative evaluations. First, teachers that receive a negative evaluation should be placed on improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how progress will be measured. While teachers that receive negative evaluations should receive support and additional training, opportunities to improve should not be unlimited. States should articulate policies wherein two negative evaluations within five years are sufficient justification for dismissal.

Employment status should not determine the consequences of a negative evaluation.

Differentiating consequences of a negative evaluation based on whether a teacher has probationary or nonprobationary status puts the interests of adults before those of students. Ideally, weaknesses and deficiencies would be identified and corrected during the probationary period; if the deficiencies were found to be insurmountable, the teacher would not be awarded permanent status. However, in the absence of meaningful tenure processes based on teacher effectiveness, limiting significant consequences to the probationary period is insufficient. Any teacher who receives a negative evaluation, regardless of employment status, should be placed on an improvement plan, and any teacher who receives multiple negative evaluations, regardless of employment status, should be eligible for dismissal.

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.