youth; family and community engagement; and operations, management, and facilities.

The committee believes that a school district should be judged ultimately by the extent to which it provides all of its students—regardless of their backgrounds, family circumstances, or neighborhoods—the knowledge and skills they need to progress successfully through each stage of their schooling and graduate prepared for productive participation in their communities. Our goal is an evaluation program that will document the actions taken by decision makers (city leaders and school officials), the way those actions influence a broad range of behaviors among students, teachers, and school administrators, and the relationships those actions have to a broad range of important outcomes for students. The program should not only provide answers about what has already happened under PERAA, but also support decisions about how to continue to improve public education in DC.

This chapter begins with a description of the committee’s framework for evaluation. We then discuss in detail the way in which ongoing indicators and in-depth studies can be integrated in practice and how the most important priorities for the District of Columbia can be addressed in this framework. The chapter closes with a discussion of the practical challenges of establishing and managing the program we recommend. Our evaluation program addresses the school system of the District of Columbia; as we discuss in Chapter 4, the responsibility for public education is shared among several offices because of the city’s unique political status and structure.


The committee’s framework for evaluation covers both the implementation and effects of PERAA and, more generally, the condition of education in the District. Although the immediate goal for the District is to answer questions about PERAA, we also see an opportunity to build an ongoing program of analyses that will be useful to the District regardless of future changes in governance or policy. Although our proposed framework was developed for the District of Columbia, it can be used in any school district. It is designed to be adaptable to changing priorities and circumstances as well as to the varying availability of resources to support evaluation, in DC and in any school district.

Figure 7-1 depicts our proposed evaluation framework, which begins with the goals the District has set for itself, as shown in the horizontal box that appears at the top of the figure. The logic of this framework reflects a point that may be obvious but is worth underscoring: passing a law does not automatically result in increased student learning, reduced achievement

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