Education headed by the deputy mayor of education, both in printed documents and on their websites. Officials of these agencies presented materials to the committee and staff and also answered specific questions about the school system. We also examined several reports produced by government agencies, research organizations and civic groups, as well as some media coverage. However, all these reports and other presentations were prepared for different purposes, and they used a variety of different methods: for this chapter, we used them primarily as sources of factual information not otherwise available; we discuss the sources further in Chapter 5.

We also note the potential for confusion regarding which entities in the city are responsible for which aspects of public education, because of the city’s unique political status and structure. We generally refer to “the city” or “the District” when discussing areas that are not solely the responsibility of the DCPS.


The scope of PERAA is quite broad. Its first eight titles lay out requirements for the governance, organization, and management of DC’s public schools; the corresponding functions of a state education agency; the management and construction of educational facilities; and the creation and oversight of charter schools. PERAA also establishes a structure to foster collaboration across agencies serving at-risk children in the city and calls for the appointment of an ombudsman so that the District’s residents have a mechanism for registering concerns and resolving disputes. PERAA also requires that benchmarks be established for annual assessments of progress in four key areas of the school system: business practices, human resources, academic plans, and annual achievements. The mayor is charged with conducting these assessments and reporting on them to the city council. The mayor is also charged with submitting to the council a 5-year assessment of the public education system established by PERAA (that is, the evaluation this committee was asked to design).

Figure 4-1 shows the governance structure for the city’s public schools before and after PERAA. The new structure is more complex than the old one, and the boundaries between the responsibilities of each of the new entities are not completely distinct, as shown in Table 4-1.


The most widely publicized change brought about by PERAA is the placement of DCPS directly under the oversight of the mayor. This change affords the mayor authority over most educational matters, ranging from school operations to personnel and labor relations, and grants the mayor

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