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New DCPS Initiative To Provide Incentives For High-Performing Teachers

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Under the new initiative, high-performing teachers are offered a variety of incentives.
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Under the new initiative, high-performing teachers are offered a variety of incentives.

D.C.'s Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson has unveiled a new career ladder to allow high-performing teachers more leadership opportunities and more money, while also allowing them to remain the classroom.

"They're looking for leadership opportunities, they're looking for opportunities to expand and broaden their reach, to influence policy and decision making that happens in the District," says Henderson. "And we want to be the place where the very best teachers know they can come and stay and do all that and more."

Henderson says the new Leadership Initiative for Teachers, or LIFT, is designed to help keep good teachers in DCPS. Under the new program, teachers who receive highly effective ratings will be able to see significant salary increases faster than in the past. Teachers who continue to receive highly effective ratings will have opportunities to earn more than $100,000 in just five years, and more than $130,000 in just seven years, significantly higher than surrounding jurisdictions and many other urban districts.

Teachers in wealthier schools will continue to be eligible for annual bonuses; but money will now be largely allocated for teachers who work in high poverty, low performing schools.

Beyond pay, the new program moves teachers up a five-step career ladder. As they move up, they'll be able to serve in a variety of leadership roles, from curriculum writer to teacher recruiter to master educator.

"It has all the requirement's of good bones if you've been in an old house and it's got good bones," says Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers Union. "I'm concerned about implementation."

In particular, Saunders says he's concerned about the implications of the program for current teachers.

"They're going to be more folks sending resumes to principals saying, 'I can do it if they can't,' says Saunders. That's going to be more pressure."

Saunders says the union will be monitoring the program to see that it's implemented fairly.

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