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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Office of Testing and Assessment
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education


An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape 

DCPS cover



DCPS Report Brief

Read the report brief
that summarizes the main findings



The 2007 Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) made significant changes to the governance of Washington, D.C.’s public schools. The law’s purpose was to allow leaders flexibility so they could make bold changes to improve a school system that had been performing poorly for decades. The law also called for an independent evaluation of how well the public schools fared under the changes.

An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia is a comprehensive five-year summative evaluation report. As Phase Two of the evaluation, it is consistent with the recommendations in the 2011 report, A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia's Public Schools.
The committee for Phase II examined the available evidence to determine whether the law has brought intended improvements to the governance structure and to learning conditions and outcomes for students. The new report identifies what is working well seven years after legislation was enacted; identifies areas that need additional attention, and makes recommendations to the city for building on the progress it has made.

Press Release 

In the News

Despite DC school reforms, disparities persist in system - Washington Post (June 3, 2015)

D.C. Schools Improved Under Mayoral Control, But Progress Remains Uneven - WAMU-FM (June 3, 2015) 



Project Scope

The National Research Council (NRC) will establish an ad-hoc committee to write a comprehensive five-year summative evaluation report for Phase Two of the initiative to evaluate the District of Columbia’s public schools. Consistent with the recommendations in the 2011 NRC report entitled A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia's Public Schools, the NRC will commission a local research consortium, DC-EdCORE, to carry out a set of studies that will provide input to the summative evaluation report. The issuance of the 2011 report completed Phase One of the initiative and DC-EdCORE was formed in response to the recommendations of that report. The new NRC committee will commission studies by DC-EdCORE and hold open meetings to discuss the results of DC-EdCORE studies and other relevant research. The committee will write a consensus evaluation report that describes changes in the public schools during the period from 2009 to 2013 and also addresses the questions outlined in the PERAA legislation about effects on business practices; human resources operations and human capital strategies; academic plans; and student achievement.

Committee Members

Carl Cohn (co-chair), School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University
Lorraine McDonnell (co-chair), Department of Political Science, University of California,
Santa Barbara
Mark Dynarski, Pemberton Reasearch, LLC
David Figlio, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Sharon Lewis, Council of Great City Schools
Susanna Loeb, Center For Education Policy Analysis, Stanford University
Kent McGuire, Southern Education Foundation
Jenny Nagaoka, Consortium on Chicago School Research, The University of Chicago
Marion Orr, Department of Political Science, Brown University
Diana Pullin, Lynch School of Education, Boston College

Commissioned Papers

DC-EdCORE Reports

The reports prepared by DC-EdCORE (DC Education Consortium on Research and Evaluation) are available on the website of the DC Auditor at the links below.

Evaluation of the DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA): Report No. 1: School Year 2010-2011

Evaluation of the DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) Report No. 2: School Year 2011-2012
DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) Report No. 3: Trends in Teacher Effectiveness in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), School Years 2008-2009 — 2012-2013.
DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) Report No. 3 Supplemental: The Impact Of Replacing Principals on Student Achievement in DC Public Schools (DCPS).
DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) Report No. 4: A Closer Look at Student Achievement Trends In the District of Columbia.
DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) Report No. 5: Community and Family Engagement in Dc Public Education: Officials’ Reports and Stakeholders’ Perceptions.

Related Resources

(NRC, 2011)



Press Release


 A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia's Public Schools offers a framework for evaluating the effects of PERAA on DC's public schools. The book recommends an evaluation program that includes a systematic yearly public reporting of key data as well as in-depth studies of high-priority issues including: quality of teachers, principals, and other personnel; quality of classroom teaching and learning; capacity to serve vulnerable children and youth; promotion of family and community engagement; and quality and equity of operations, management, and facilities. As part of the evaluation program, the Mayor's Office should produce an annual report to the city on the status of the public schools, including an analysis of trends and all the underlying data.

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