Teaching in Washington DC
Literally in the thick of American politics, the District of Columbia is a fascinating place to work and live. The area is rich in history, cultural activities, and is only a short distance from both the beach and the mountains—as well as several major cities including Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia. The District of Columbia also features one of the most ethnically, and economically, diverse populations in the country. People of all nationalities, religions, cultures, and social strata travel the streets and subways of the nation’s capital each day. Therefore, the District of Columbia needs teachers who can handle this diversity of life experiences, and still provide quality educational experiences for their students.The city is making serious efforts to reforming the quality of education students are being offered. The DCPS now has a five-year strategic plan in place, “A Capital Commitment.” The plan is a roadmap to help build confidence in the DCPS community, while improving the quality of education in the District of Columbia. One major recurring issue has been that the DCPS’ very loose tenure rules, combined with a strong teachers’ union, had made it extraordinarily difficult for bad teachers to be terminated. In 2012, these rules were reformed so that teachers would maintain their jobs only if their job performance merited it. The system has already seen significant improvements in the areas of early education and special needs education. However, in the 2010-2011 school year, less than half of D.C. students scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the math and reading standardized tests, at both the elementary and secondary levels. Yet, these scores were an improvement over past years. Another area of improvement focus by the DCPS is teacher support, including more professional development opportunities. The system is also reforming its teacher-assessment protocol and developing a constructive, results-based feedback program, IMPACT, to increase teacher effectiveness. The year 2012 also saw the opening of a new private charter school, BASIS DC, which features “European and Asian content levels and the structure and environment of an American classroom.” The school model is based upon a successful Arizona franchise. Its flagship school, BASIS Tucson, was named the nation’s top charter school, and sixth-best school overall, by U.S. News & World Report; D.C.’s highest-ranked high school, by comparison, was 700th. The original charter school also boasts a 100 percent graduation rate. The hope is that this charter franchise will boost the quality of education significantly in the District of Columbia.When they reach retirement age, District of Columbia teachers usually apply to the District of Columbia Retirement Board. Retirement benefits are based on a combination of average salary and years of service, with the base benefit percentage increasing after five and 10 years; cost-of-living increases are also built into the plan. Teachers may receive additional benefits by joining the various teaching organizations (Organizations for D.C. Teachers) available in the District of Columbia. There are many teacher groups and organizations in the District of Columbia that can help you connect with other teachers, help you learn more about your area of concentration, and more.
- Educational Climate in the District of Columbia
- Career Outlook in the District of Columbia
- Benefits of becoming a teacher in the District of Columbia?
- How do I become a teacher in the District of Columbia?
- Find schools offering Masters in Education programs in Washington DC