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The Irreplaceables

Smart Retention at Work

What does smart teacher retention look like? We see an emerging example in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), the first large school district in the country known to be retaining far more of its Irreplaceables than its low-performing teachers. Download the paper »

Our new case study, Keeping Irreplaceables in D.C. Public Schools, shows that DCPS has moved toward smarter teacher retention mainly by raising expectations and removing consistently low-performing teachers—without alienating top teachers as many people had feared. Just two years into its reforms, DCPS was keeping 88 percent of its Irreplaceables but just 45 percent of its low performers.

The report also shows that DPCS is missing opportunities to make even more progress—especially when it comes to helping individual school leaders create the cultures of respect and rigor that Irreplaceables want.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Performance-based compensation is helping DCPS keep more top teachers.
  • Many DCPS principals do not appear to be prioritizing top teacher retention.
  • Many DCPS principals are struggling to create cultures and working conditions that motivate top teachers to stay.
  • Irreplaceables appear less likely to teach in schools that need them most.

The report recommends that DCPS continue its current policy reforms—especially its higher expectations for teachers—while monitoring the distribution of top teachers across the district and doing more to help school leaders retain their best teachers.

 
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