this chapter we discuss the general issues and research on each topic and then offer our impressions of the District’s activities to date.

The five categories are convenient, if somewhat arbitrary, and there is overlap among them. For example, professional development for staff is important in thinking about the district’s responsibility to attract and retain an effective workforce, and an equally critical aspect of its responsibility to ensure that students receive high-quality instruction. Our purpose is not to provide a definitive taxonomy of what districts do, but rather to impose a structure on the seemingly boundless number of important questions about DC schools’ performance and progress under PERAA.

Before discussing the available information about school quality and operation in the categories, we discuss two topics related to data—the sources of data for our first impressions and the DC effective schools framework—which is the city’s broad plan for improving education in the District.


Sources for This Chapter

For the purposes of developing our first impressions, we had three categories of data: materials published before PERAA, materials published after PERAA, and unpublished materials made available by the District of Columbia. Included in the first category are 1989 and 1995 reports by the Committee on Public Education (summarized in Parthenon Group, 2006); reports from the Council on the Great City Schools (CGCS) (2004, 2005, and 2007); a study by the Parthenon Group (2006), which was an important factual resource for the developers of the PERAA; studies focusing on special education issues by the DC Appleseed Center (2003) and the American Institutes for Research (Parrish et al., 2007); and studies on charter schools and vouchers by the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute (Stewart et al., 2007; Sullivan et al., 2008) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (2005a, 2005b) and Ashby and Franzel (2007).

Resources published after PERAA include two reports published by the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) (Ashby, 2008; U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2009); a study by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (2010); and two studies commissioned by DC educational agencies: one for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, by the 21st Century School Fund, Brookings Institution, and Urban Institute (2008), and one for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education by the Development Services Group (2008).

These studies were done for different purposes and used different methods. Some were very broad (e.g., the Council on the Great City Schools

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