The Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007 (PERAA), which established mayoral control and a state department of education and instituted other significant management changes in DC Public Schools (DCPS), mandates an independent, comprehensive, five-year evaluation to determine: “… whether sufficient progress in public education has been achieved to warrant continuation of the provisions and requirements of this act or whether a new law, and a new system of education, should be enacted by the District government…”
In April 2009 the DC City Council asked the National Research Council (NRC) to design and conduct this evaluation. This award supported pre-evaluation planning activities and is now supporting a portion of the first design phase of the evaluation from November 2009 through February 2011 (the full evaluation will span five years).
The purpose of the design phase of the evaluation is to: (1) assess what data are currently (and will soon be) available for evaluation activities; (2) identify performance indicators and benchmarks that can serve as models for DCPS; and (3) engage with multiple stakeholder communities to understand their expectations and priorities with respect to evaluating their schools and school system.
Since the summer of 2009, NRC staff have consulted with key stakeholders, citizens, and experts to clarify study goals; developed preliminary study plans; met with diverse stakeholders and DC citizens; initiated discussions with national and local philanthropic organizations with interests in the DC Public Schools; and worked to identify and nominate the NRC study committee that will oversee this evaluation. These volunteer committee members bring expertise from many fields, including education policy, education finance, performance measurement, evaluation, school governance, public sector management, connections with the District of Columbia and DCPS, special education, children/youth development, public policy, and urban sociology/demography. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for March 7-8, 2010 in Washington, DC. A first report to the city will be issued in the fall.