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D. C. Public Schools are Taking the LEAP with Teachers to the Next Level of Education Reform

Joe Madison Leads New Series, 'An American Conversation - We Are All Americans', On Race And Society
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Kaya Henderson, Chancellor, Washington, D.C. public schools participates in 'An American Conversation - We Are All Americans', on Race and Society with Joe Madison at SiriusXM Studio on October 1, 2015 in Washington, DC.
(Photo : Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

In line with their mission of creating the best teaching workforce in the country, the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) system has rolled out LEAP. LEarning Together to Advance Our Practice is DCPS' new professional development program aimed to promote highly effective teaching.

School district spends millions of dollars each year for teachers' professional development and learning to ensure that they are have the right skills and competencies to teach and guide their students. However, the money and time spent was doing little help to improve the teachers and their skills.

The Washington Post reports that school districts spend an average of $18,000 per year for a teacher's professional development. On the average, teachers spend 19 days or almost 10 percent of the school year attending workshops and training courses.

TNTP (founded as The New Teacher Project) is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing teachers and promoting effective teaching in classrooms. The group estimated that school districts spend about $8 billion annually for teachers' professional development.

In addition, former Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan also said in one teachers' town hall meeting that the agency spent $2.5 billion for professional development alone.

Given these amounts, TNTP did a study and found that despite the massive investments made to professionally improve teachers, the trainings and seminars are not quite doing much good.

This prompted DCPS to initiate changes in the way teachers are evaluated and compensated. Under the leadership of Chancellor Kaya Henderson, DCPS launched IMPACT - the controversial performance evaluation for teachers and educators that factored in student performance in the ratings and adapted a merit pay system.

IMPACT in its early stages created a high teacher turnover in D. C. in its initial stages but it turn out, in the end that this was more beneficial to the students.

LEAP was rolled out after a 2-year pilot with a set of D. C. schools. While still in it's infancy and is said to cause a lot of money, LEAP focuses on what researchers identifies as a critical point in professional development: creating a community not just of teachers but also of administrators and other academic professionals.

This community will allow LEAP leaders to customize the programs for their specific school districts and schools to effectively engage and empower educators and teachers.

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