Advancing up the LIFT Ladder 


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Your advancement up the LIFT ladder is determined by your annual IMPACT rating. Once you’ve entered a particular stage, you will remain there until you earn the requisite Effective and/or Highly Effective ratings to progress to the next stage. You cannot move backwards along the ladder; you can only advance.

Please note that Developing and Minimally Effective ratings do not contribute to your advancement up the ladder.

Criteria to Advance up the LIFT Ladder

Note: Beginning in the 2012–2013 school year, an Effective IMPACT rating will be defined as a score between 300 and 349.

  • Individuals at the Teacher stage who earn two consecutive Effective ratings or one Highly Effective rating will advance to the Established Teacher stage.

  • Established Teachers who earn two consecutive Effective ratings or one Highly Effective rating will advance to the Advanced Teacher stage.

  • Advanced Teachers who earn two consecutive Highly Effective ratings will advance to the Distinguished Teacher stage.

  • Distinguished Teachers who earn two consecutive Highly Effective ratings will advance to the Expert Teacher stage.

Do I need to earn these ratings consecutively in order to advance up the LIFT ladder?

Yes. In cases in which two ratings are required to advance to the next LIFT stage, those ratings must be earned in two consecutive years.

For example, a teacher at the Established Teacher stage will either need to earn one Highly Effective rating or two Effective ratings in a row in order to advance to the Advanced Teacher stage. Similarly, teachers at the Advanced and Distinguished Teacher stages need to earn two Highly Effective ratings in a row to advance on the LIFT ladder.

How do my prior IMPACT ratings count towards my advancement up the LIFT ladder?

After placement, teachers need to earn the requisite ratings outlined on page 10 of the LIFT guidebook to advance to the next LIFT stage. After initial placement on the LIFT ladder, a teacher’s next rating will be the first to count towards her or his advancement to the next LIFT stage. For example, let’s consider a teacher who is placed at the Established Teacher stage at the beginning of the school year, and who earns an Effective rating at the end of that same school year. During the next school year, this teacher will either need to earn an Effective rating or a Highly Effective rating to advance to the Advanced Teacher stage.

Why do teachers need to earn Highly Effective ratings to reach the Distinguished and Expert Teacher stages?

Teachers who reach the Distinguished and Expert Teacher stages are eligible for significant benefits, including dramatically reduced IMPACT observations and considerable base salary increases. Therefore, these stages are reserved for the highest-performing teachers in the district.

Teachers who consistently earn Effective ratings also deserve meaningful recognition for their performance and experience. With LIFT, a teacher who earns four years of Effective ratings will move into the Advanced Teacher stage and become eligible for reduced IMPACT observations, a base salary increase, and a wide array of leadership opportunities.

What happens to my LIFT stage if I move from a DCPS classroom to another leadership role (e.g., an instructional coach or assistant principal position), and then return to a teaching role in the future?  

Your LIFT stage would be the stage you earned based on your IMPACT rating from your final year teaching in the classroom. For instance, imagine that you are at the Advanced Teacher stage and you earn Highly Effective ratings in 2012–2013 and 2013–2014, qualifying you to move to the Distinguished Teacher stage for the 2014–2015 school year. However, you decide instead to serve as an instructional coach for the 2014–2015 school year. If you decide to return to the classroom in the future, you would return at the Distinguished Teacher stage.

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