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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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An Evaluation of the Public Schools
of the District of Columbia

Reform in a Changing Landscape

Committee for the Five-Year (2009-2013) Summative Evaluation of the
District of Columbia Public Schools

Board on Testing and Assessment

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                         OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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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 Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract No. ODCA 2013-01 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Government of the District of Columbia, Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, with additional funding from the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences Kellogg Fund. 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: 978-0-309-37380-7
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-37380-8

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2015 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2015). An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Committee for the Five-Year (2009-2013) Summative Evaluation of the District of Columbia’s Public Schools. Board on Testing and Assessment, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

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 Academy 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 engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president 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 Institute 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. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences 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. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
×

COMMITTEE FOR THE FIVE-YEAR (2009-2013)
SUMMATIVE EVALUATION OF THE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Carl Cohn (Cochair), School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University

Lorraine McDonnell (Cochair), Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara

Mark Dynarski, Pemberton Research, LLC, East Windsor, NJ

David Figlio, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Sharon Lewis, Council of the Great City Schools, Washington, DC

Susanna Loeb, Center for Education Policy Analysis, Stanford University

Kent McGuire, Southern Education Foundation, Atlanta, GA

Jenny Nagaoka, Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago

Marion Orr, Department of Political Science, Brown University

Diana Pullin, Lynch School of Education, Boston College

Alexandra Beatty, Study Director

Judith Koenig, Senior Program Officer

Stuart Elliott, Director, Board on Testing and Assessment (until December 2013)

Natalie Nielsen, Acting Director, Board on Testing and Assessment (from December 2013)

Kelly Arrington, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
×

BOARD ON TESTING AND ASSESSMENT

David J. Francis (Chair), Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics, University of Houston

Gary Chamberlain, Department of Economics, Harvard University

Mark Dynarski, Pemberton Research, LLC, East Windsor, NJ

Joan Herman, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, University of California, Los Angeles

Michael Kane, Test Validity, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ

Sharon Lewis, Council of Great City Schools, Washington, DC

Robert Mare, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

Diana C. Pullin, School of Education, Boston College

Ann Marie Ryan, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University

Brian Stecher, Education Program, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA

John Robert Warren, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota

Mark Wilson, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Rebecca Zwick, Research and Development, Educational Testing Service, Santa Barbara, CA

Natalie Nielsen, Acting Director

Alexandra Beatty, Senior Program Officer

Judith Koenig, Senior Program Officer

Kelly Arrington, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
×

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge with sincere gratitude the many individuals who contributed to the committee’s 3-year effort.

We begin with the many city employees and residents who assisted the committee. Many more individuals than can be listed here attended meetings, responded to telephone calls and e-mails, participated in formal interviews, and provided materials. The thoughtful perspectives they provided were invaluable to the committee, and we thank them for their time and patience.

We are also very grateful to the researchers who assisted us. We thank Jeffrey Henig of Teachers College, Columbia University, for his analysis of D.C.’s reforms in the context of reform in other urban districts; Drew Gitomer, Kevin Crouse, and Jeanette Joyce of Rutgers University for their analysis of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system in the context of other such systems; and Cory Koedel of the University of Missouri, Columbia, for his analysis of technical aspects of value-added modeling. We are also deeply grateful to Colleen Robinson of Boston College for her able and extensive assistance with legal research pertaining to the Public Education Reform Amendment Act.

We also wish to acknowledge the members of the George Washington University consortium, DC-EdCORE, who provided analyses for the city that we drew on for this report. Members of this group attended many of the committee’s meetings and consulted with the committee on their work; we thank them for their technical expertise and collegial approach.

We also want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff of the National Research Council (NRC) who contributed to this project.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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As the study director, Alexandra Beatty assumed many more duties than we can list. Perhaps most importantly, she assiduously gathered much of the information that is presented here and never wavered in her commitment to helping the committee shape this report into a useful resource for the residents and leaders of the District of Columbia. Judy Koenig was instrumental in assembling critical information and assisting the committee in developing its analyses of the DCPS teacher evaluation program and of the student outcomes data.

The committee operated under the aegis of the NRC’s Board on Testing and Assessment, beginning its work under director Stuart Elliott and continuing under director Natalie Nielsen. Each provided leadership and thoughtful suggestions and support to the committee. Jordyn White patiently transformed graphs, tables, and spreadsheets into legible graphics for the report. Marisa Gerstein Pineau assisted in analyzing interview transcripts, and Kelly Arrington provided her usual top-notch administrative support at every phase of the project with good cheer.

The committee also thanks staff of the Office of Reports and Communication of the NRC Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Patricia Morison, director, provided her usual sage advice and strategic perspective, especially in the crucial final stages of our work. Eugenia Grohman helped edit the draft report, Kirsten Sampson Snyder managed the report review process, and Yvonne Wise managed the final production process.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures 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: Julian Betts, Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego; Thomas Byrd, Chairman, Ward 8 Education Council, Washington, DC; Jennifer P. Cheatham, Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison, WI; HyeSook Chung, Executive Director, DC Action for Children, Washington, DC; John Q. Easton, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL; Richard F. Elmore, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; Mary Filardo, Executive Director, 21st Century School Fund, Washington, DC; Paul Goren, Superintendent, Evanston/Skokie District 65, Evanston, IL; Mary Levy, Education Finance and Policy Analyst, Washington, DC; Rebecca Maynard, Graduate School

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
×

of Education, University of Pennsylvania; Richard J. Murnane, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; Maxine Singer, President Emeritus, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC; and Jim Wyckoff, Curry Memorial Professor of Education and Policy, University of Virginia.

Although the reviewers listed above 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 Caswell A. Evans, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Edward H. Haertel, School of Education, Stanford University. 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 considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Carl Cohn, Cochair
Lorraine McDonnell, Cochair
Committee for the Five-Year (2009-2013)
Summative Evaluation of the
District of Columbia’s Public Schools

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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Foreword

When the District of Columbia Council passed the Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) in 2007, the goal was to improve the city’s public school system. However, the Council also recognized how important it would be to have an objective evaluation of the law’s effects, and for that purpose, they turned to the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) in the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

The NAS is a private, nonprofit organization, chartered by Congress to provide scientific advice when asked. The NAS was pleased to undertake this project, both because of its importance in educational policy and because our home is in the District of Columbia. In so doing, we hoped to help the city answer vital questions about its efforts to improve its public schools. We also hoped that the result would be useful to other cities or states.

There have been many analyses of education in the District of Columbia: its problems, its operations, and its programs. However, although evaluations of public schooling are common, few examine the ways that a broad restructuring of school governance has influenced an entire school system. In the present instance, the D.C. Council was seeking a broad assessment that would help its leaders and citizens learn whether PERAA had put the schools on a track for improvement.

The NAS project faced two significant challenges. The first was that there is no clear model for this kind of broad evaluation. The second challenge concerned the nature and limitations of the available evidence. Most evaluations by the NAS examine, assess, and resolve findings from

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
×

previous empirical research. As in other localities, the available evidence about the D.C. school system included very little peer-reviewed research. Thus, in order to develop conclusions and recommendations that would be both practical and scientifically defensible, the committee had to sift and winnow a mix of incomplete data, descriptive documents, and other kinds of information.

The project was carried out in two phases. The report of the first phase A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia’s Public Schools, responded to the first challenge: it presented an evaluation model designed to meet the goal set by PERAA. This report describes the second phase, an evaluation based on that model.

As with all projects of the NAS, the work was led by volunteer experts. Together with cochairs, Carl Cohn and Lorraine McDonnell, they brought a wealth of experience and expertise to the task. On behalf of the NAS, I offer deep thanks to the cochairs and their fellow committee members, who represented the best of the institution in their commitment to finding a scientifically sound way to meet the broad charge they were given. I also thank DC-EdCORE, a consortium of research agencies led by Michael Feuer, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University, for its contributions to this report.

The committee had the opportunity to learn about the work of many officials and other staff members within D.C.’s education agencies and schools. Committee members met many exemplars of dedication to improving educational conditions and outcomes for public school students. This report is intended to support them and to build on the hard work they have already done. We sincerely hope that this report will be helpful to them, to the D.C. Council, and to all city residents concerned about the future of their children and their schools.

Robert M. Hauser, Executive Director
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
National Academy of Sciences

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21743.
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An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia is a comprehensive five-year summative evaluation report for Phase Two of an initiative to evaluate the District of Columbia's public schools. Consistent with the recommendations in the 2011 report A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia's Public Schools, this new report describes changes in the public schools during the period from 2009 to 2013. An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia examines business practices, human resources operations and human capital strategies, academic plans, and student achievement. This report identifies what is working well seven years after legislation was enacted to give control of public schools to the mayor of the District of Columbia and which areas need additional attention.

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