DCPS non-teachers decry IMPACT
One of the several unorthodox features of the new IMPACT evaluation system devised by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is that it holds all the adults in a school building accountable to some extent for student achievement. That doesn't sit well with members of Local 2921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), who say that nearly 100 members--school paraprofessionals and clerical staff--lost their jobs this summer after scoring poorly on IMPACT.
Non-teaching personnel have five percent of their evaluations based on so-called "schoolwide value added," or test score growth among all eligible students in a given school. Union members, who rallied in front of DCPS central offices Friday morning, say that is unreasonable.
In a statement, Michael Flood, president of Local 2921, called IMPACT "a political weapon developed to fire good employees by using shady methods to assess their performance." Flood, whose union represents about 1,300 workers, added: "Think about it, paraprofessionals, clericals and even custodians now have five percent of their evaluations based on how much test scores increase in their schools --even though they have no direct control over how testing goals are met in the classroom. That's blatantly unfair and improper. We're being set up to fail."
The union filed an unfair labor practice complaint earlier this week with the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board, asking for reinstatement of the workers fired under IMPACT.
But if test scores make up five percent of their evaluations (for some teachers it is 50 percent), then what's the rest? Ninety percent is taken up by a set of "instructional paraprofessional standards" that include categories such as "job acumen," "positive rapport with students," "dependability," "adaptability" and "customer service." It's fair to conclude that a paraprofessional or clerical worker who lost out on the five percent value-added also had to have some problems in these areas in order to be dismissed, isn't it?
"Possibly," said Dwight Kirk, a spokesman for AFSCME District Council 20. But Kirk emphasized the broader context, which is that these are relatively low-paid employees who have been working without a contract for three years. While Rhee was focused on negotiations with the Washington Teachers' Union, Kirk said, she has failed to bargain in good faith with Local 2921.
"There's a double standard here," he said.
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