Schools may flunk low-performing teachers

April 23, 2009 10:02:13 AM PDT
Nearly 600 low-performing Dallas public school teachers have a year to improve or be fired. The ultimatum came from the district in a letter this month explaining that their current contracts would not be extended beyond the 2009-10 school year unless they become more effective in the classroom.

Dallas Independent School District spokesman Jon Dahlander said it's part of the district's effort to move to shorter, one-year contracts, an approach that has angered teachers' unions and those they represent.

"They're furious," Rena Honea, president of Alliance-AFT teachers association, said in Thursday's editions of The Dallas Morning News.

The 580 targeted teachers make up about 5 percent of the district's teaching force. They were either already participating in a performance improvement plan or were in the bottom fifth of the district's "Classroom Effectiveness Index."

The index was created to measure how well teachers are contributing to their students' learning over the course of a year, but the measurement is based heavily on their students' scores on The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, the statewide standardized test.

Although students have already taken some parts of this year's TAKS test, those results will be used to compute next year's index, which some consider unfair.

With only about five weeks left in the school year, the teachers "have no real opportunity to improve their CEIs," said Dale Kaiser, president of the NEA-Dallas employees association. "I'm getting a lot of calls about this. People are upset."

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