Keeping Irreplaceables in D.C. Public Schools

Lessons in Smart Teacher Retention

D.C. Public Schools takes a dramatically different approach to teacher retention.

The Irreplaceables highlighted the real retention crisis in America’s urban schools: a failure to keep highly effective teachers or usher unsuccessful ones out. TNTP’s new case study, Keeping Irreplaceables in D.C. Public Schools, provides a deeper look at retention strategies discussed in The Irreplaceables and how they’re playing out in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). The paper explains how DCPS has moved toward smarter teacher retention, mainly by raising expectations and removing consistently low-performing teachers, and details opportunities to make even more progress.

Key Findings:

  • 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.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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