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A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia’s Public Schools From Impressions to Evidence Committee on the Independent Evaluation of DC Public Schools Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Govern- ing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineer- ing, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropri- ate balance. This study was supported by Award No. ODCA 2010-01 and ODCA 2011-01 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Government of the District of Columbia; and Award No. 201000123 between the National Academy of Sci- ences and the Spencer Foundation. The study was also supported by the National Science Foundation, the CityBridge Foundation, the Philip L. Graham Fund, the Kimsey Foundation, the World Bank, and the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foun- dation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-20936-6 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-20936-6 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Cover credit: Photograph by Sabryn McDonald, seventh grade student from Cesar Chavez Middle School, District of Columbia, as part of the Critical Exposure Pro- gram, http://www.criticalexposure.org © 2011. Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2011). A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia’s Public Schools: From Impressions to Evidence. Committee on the Independent Evaluation of DC Public Schools. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Acad- emy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineer- ing programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is presi- dent of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti- tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci- ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON THE INDEPENDENT EVALUATION OF DC PUBLIC SCHOOLS Christopher Edley, Jr., Cochair, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley Robert M. Hauser, Cochair, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council, Washington, DC, and Vilas Research Professor, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison Beatrice F. Birman, Education, Human Development, and Workforce Program, American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC Carl A. Cohn, School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University Leslie T. Fenwick, School of Education, Howard University Michael J. Feuer, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University Jon Fullerton, Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University Fernando A. Guerra, Metro Health, San Antonio, Texas Jonathan Gueverra, Office of the Chief Executive, Community College of the District of Columbia Jonathan Guryan, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University Lorraine McDonnell, Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara C. Kent McGuire, Office of the President, Southern Education Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia Maxine Singer, Carnegie Institution of Washington William F. Tate IV, Department of Education, Washington University in St. Louis Laudan Y. Aron, Study Director (until December 2010) Alexandra Beatty, Senior Program Officer Natalia Pane, Visiting Scholar Kelly Iverson, Senior Program Assistant Jeremy Flattau, Mirzayan Fellow Christina Maranto, Mirzayan Fellow Jessica Schibler, Summer Intern v

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Preface The District of Columbia has struggled for decades to improve its public education system. The school system’s problems in many ways re- flect its context: a city whose history has been characterized by sometimes stark racial and class divides. The District is not part of any state, and, for a variety of legal and historical reasons, the U.S. Congress has control over many aspects of its affairs and budget. The city’s schools have been governed differently and with more volatility than any other urban district: 17 different management structures have been tried since 1804. The most recent change, in 2007, was surely the most dramatic. The enactment of the Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA), gave primary control of the schools to the mayor and a mayor-appointed chancellor, and instituted a host of major changes to management and gov- ernance. The authors of PERAA recognized the importance of obtaining a clear, objective, politically independent, and accurate picture of the schools’ progress as these reforms were pursued; and they recognized the complexity of the technical challenges associated with designing and implementing an evaluation that could yield that sort of information. The city council, under the leadership of Chairman Vincent C. Gray (who has since been elected mayor and has supported this project through- out) approached the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies to carry out this charge. Assembling an expert panel required special attention to local, national, and other demographic factors; exper- tise in the myriad relevant research fields that inevitably must be included in a comprehensive effort; political and ideological balance; and, given the vii

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viii PREFACE ambitious timeline, sufficient prior experience among participants to ensure efficiency in deliberations and the preparation of a final report. Perhaps most important was the decision about just how ambitious to allow the first phase of this initiative to become. Following negotiations with the DC government, the Committee on the Independent Evaluation of DC Public Schools was charged to develop a plan for the multiyear evalu- ation of DC’s public school system; identify available data and assess its quality and utility; consider preliminary indicators; and engage with a wide cross-section of local stakeholder groups to explore the feasibility and scope of the next phases of an evaluation. In accepting this unusual assignment, the NRC recognized that there is no well-established model for evaluating the progress of school reform, and that reform in an urban district is a moving target. Understanding a school district’s progress—and isolating the effects of a complex policy—entails answering an array of questions large and small. The committee spent much of its time deepening its understanding of the unique features of Washington, DC, and its public school system, examining research and key parts of a large literature on school reform, conferring widely with experienced educators and evaluators, and identify- ing the most essential elements to be included in a sustainable and robust system of evaluation. In the course of this phase of the initiative, and based on careful study and deliberations, the committee developed preliminary impressions of DC schools under PERAA, which reinforced the committee’s position that sound policy and practice will, indeed, necessitate more than “impressions.” The fragility of inferences that are derived from first looks at data is our principal rationale for designing and advocating a rigorous long-term program. The main output of this first phase, then, is a frame- work for such a program. We hope the report opens and facilitates new dialogue about the cur- rent and future prospects for infusing in the city’s ongoing school reform efforts the best that scientific evidence can offer, and that this dialogue will reverberate in other cities confronting the challenge of improving their children’s educational opportunities. This study could not have happened without the support and contribu- tions of many people. In addition to the basic financial support provided by the Government of the District of Columbia, for which we are grateful, we acknowledge the U.S. National Science Foundation for its contribu- tion of an important planning grant. We also acknowledge grants from the CityBridge Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Philip L. Graham Fund, the Kimsey Foundation, the World Bank, and the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation. Michael Gewirz and Debbi Yogodzinski provided much needed moral support and were instrumental in facilitating connec- tions to leading business figures in the city, without whose support the

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ix PREFACE prospects for a successful initiative would have been questionable. These organizations and individuals sensed the potential for this venture, and we are extremely grateful. We are also grateful for the assistance of many other individuals, too numerous to name here. Many city officials, private citizens, business executives, parents, teachers, principals, and others made presentations to the committee, met with staff and individual members, and supplied information and materials. A group of accomplished researchers; DC Gov- ernment officials; civic, business, and labor leaders; parents; experienced evaluators; and others participated in a critically important planning con- ference that helped shape—and contain—the parameters of our initiative. We thank Brenda Turnbull of Policy Associates Inc. who developed a thoughtful background paper on education indicators. The committee is also very grateful to Sol and Diane Pelavin, emeriti president and vice president of the American Institutes for Research, for donating the time, wisdom, and service of Natalia Pane, who served as a visiting scholar for the study. We benefited greatly from the assistance of two National Acad- emies Mirzayan Fellows, Jeremy Flattau and Christina Maranto, and a very capable summer intern, Jessica Schibler. A special thank you goes to the NRC staff who supported every aspect of this ambitious study, Michael J. Feuer, executive director of NRC’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (until August 2010); Patricia Morison, director of DBASSE’s Office of Communications and Reports; Jean Moon, scholar; Laudan Aron, study director (until December 2010); Alexandra Beatty, senior program officer; and Kelly Iverson, senior program assistant. Finally, we thank our fellow committee members who volunteered their valuable time and intellectual efforts. Without their critical expertise and guidance, this report would not have been possible. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with pro- cedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Richard A. Berman, Licas.net; Lawrence D. Bobo, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University; Mark Dynarski, Pemberton Research, East Windsor, New Jersey; Robert E. Floden, Institute for Research on Teaching and Learning, College of Education, Michigan State University; Margaret E. Goertz, Graduate School of Education, Uni-

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x PREFACE versity of Pennsylvania; Jane Hannaway, Education Policy Center, Urban Institute; Ernest R. House, School of Education, University of Colorado; Alan J. Ingram, Springfield Public Schools; Robert L. Johnson, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School; Richard C. Larson, Center for Engi- neering Systems Fundamentals, Learning International Networks Consor- tium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Robert Rothman, Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, DC; Allan Sessoms, University of the District of Columbia; William T. Trent, Department of Educational Policy Studies, College of Education, University of Illinois. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Adam Gamoran, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin, and Caswell A. Evans, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully con- sidered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Christopher Edley, Jr., Cochair Robert M. Hauser, Cochair Committee on the Independent Evaluation of DC Public Schools

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 11 The City and Its Schools, 11 The Committee’s Charge and Its Work, 14 References, 17 2 EDUCATION REFORM IN THE UNITED STATES 19 Reform in Urban Districts, 21 Mayoral Control, 23 The Context of Reform, 25 References, 27 3 THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND THE REFORM ACT: HISTORICAL OVERVIEW 31 A History of Reform and Criticism, 31 The Racial History of DC Schools, 33 School Politics and the Legacy of Congressional Control, 36 Weak Central Office Leadership and Capacity, 39 Responses to the System’s Problems, 41 The Enactment of PERAA, 42 References, 44 xi

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xii CONTENTS 4 RESPONSES TO PERAA: INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION 47 A New Structure, 48 Mayoral Control: The Chancellor and the Budget, 48 State Superintendent and State Board of Education, 52 Department of Education and Deputy Mayor, 54 The Ombudsman, 54 Facilities, 55 Structures for Charter Schools, 56 Interagency Commission, 57 Ongoing Questions, 58 References, 60 5 STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT UNDER PERAA: FIRST IMPRESSIONS 63 Student Achievement and Test Data, 64 The Data Sources, 65 Test Score Trends, 67 Issues for Interpreting Test Scores, 77 Evidence Needed for Conclusions of Causation, 77 Looking Beyond Proficiency Rates, 82 Disaggregating Test Results, 83 Comparing Test Results, 85 References, 86 6 SCHOOL QUALITY AND OPERATIONS UNDER PERAA: FIRST IMPRESSIONS 89 Data—Looking Beyond Test Scores, 90 Sources for This Chapter, 90 The District’s Data Collection Efforts, 91 The DCPS Effective Schools Framework, 96 Areas of District Responsibility, 98 Quality of Personnel, 98 Teachers, 98 Principals and District Leaders, 99 What Districts Can Do, 99 Efforts in the District of Columbia, 100 Quality of Classroom Teaching and Learning, 103 The Role of Standards, 103 Implementing Coordinated Standards, Curriculum, and Assessments, 104 Efforts in the District of Columbia, 105

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xiii CONTENTS Serving Vulnerable Children and Youth, 108 Beyond the School System, 109 Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners, 109 Efforts in the District of Columbia, 110 Special Education, 110 Other Vulnerable Youth, 110 Family and Community Engagement, 113 Approaches to Engagement, 114 Efforts in the District of Columbia, 114 Operations, Management, and Facilities, 116 Measuring Performance, 117 Efforts in the District of Columbia, 117 Conclusion, 119 References, 120 7 FROM IMPRESSIONS TO EVIDENCE: A PROGRAM FOR EVALUATION 129 A Framework for Evaluation, 130 Element 1: Structure and Roles, 132 Element 2: Strategies, 133 Element 3: Conditions for Student Learning, 133 Element 4: Outcomes, 134 The Evaluation Goal, 135 A Combination of Ongoing Indicators and In-Depth Studies, 135 Ongoing Indicators, 135 In-Depth Studies, 136 Reporting, 138 An Example of Integrating Evaluation Activities: Improving Teacher Quality, 138 Strategies, 139 Ongoing Indicators, 140 Teacher Quality, 142 Recruitment, Retention, and Professional Support, 143 In-Depth Studies, 143 Determining Priorities for Evaluation, 145 Primary Responsibilities to Be Evaluated, 146 Criteria for Setting Priorities, 149 Establishing Long-Term Evaluation Capacity, 151 Evaluation Programs: Resources and Examples, 152 The Committee’s Goal, 156 References, 157

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xiv CONTENTS APPENDIXES A Public Community Forum Agenda and Summary 161 B Student Achievement and Attainment Indicators Collected by DC and Three Other Districts 165 C Education Data for the District of Columbia 169 D Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 183