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Report to the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the 
Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

June 2009: 

District Of Columbia Public Schools: 

Important Steps Taken to Continue Reform Efforts, But Enhanced Planning 
Could Improve Implementation and Sustainability: 

GAO-09-619: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-09-619, a report to the Subcommittee on Oversight of 
Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of 
Columbia, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. 
Senate. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

In response to long-standing problems with student achievement and the 
management of the District of Columbia (D.C. or the District) public 
school system, the D.C. Council approved the Public Education Reform 
Amendment Act of 2007. This act made major changes to the governance of 
the D.C. public school system, giving the Mayor authority over public 
schools. 

This report follows a GAO testimony in March 2008 and focuses on the 
primary reform approaches the District has taken. This report examines 
the steps the District took to: (1) address student academic 
achievement; (2) strengthen the quality of teachers and principals; (3) 
develop long-term plans and involve stakeholders; and (4) improve 
accountability and performance of the D.C. public schools (DCPS) and 
the state superintendentís central offices. GAO reviewed documentation 
on District initiatives, and interviewed District education officials 
as well as representatives from the teachersí union, community 
organizations, and research institutions. GAO also conducted visits to 
four urban school districts with mayoral governance. 

What GAO Found: 

Early efforts to improve student achievement at DCPS have focused on 
improving student performance, closing underutilized and reorganizing 
underperforming schools, and creating and enhancing data systems. 
During the first 2 years of its reform efforts, DCPS implemented many 
initiatives to improve overall student performance, such as classroom-
based initiatives to improve basic skills of students. In addition, 
under the No Child Left Behind Act, DCPS restructured 22 schools before 
the fall of 2008, after the schools failed to meet academic targets for 
6 consecutive years. Finally, DCPS and the state superintendentís 
office are developing new ways to monitor student achievement and 
school performance. Specifically, a longitudinal database is being 
developed that is intended to allow DCPS and other key users to access 
a broad array of data, including student test scores. DCPS is modifying 
its approach to many of these initiatives such as focusing on effective 
teaching as opposed to implementing disparate programs. 

DCPS has focused on improving the quality of its workforce by replacing 
teachers and principals and by providing professional development, but 
it has encountered challenges in effectively implementing these 
changes. After the 2007-2008 school year, about one-fifth of the 
teachers and one-third of the principals resigned, retired, or were 
terminated from DCPS. However, because DCPS did not have an effective 
way to evaluate teacher performance, officials are uncertain if the new 
staff improved the quality of its workforce. DCPS is currently working 
on a new teacher evaluation system. In addition, DCPS introduced 
professional development initiatives for teachers and principals. For 
example, it began placing teacher coaches at schools to support 
teachers at their work sites. However, late decisions to hire these 
teacher coaches led to inconsistent implementation of this initiative 
during the 2008-2009 school year. 

The state superintendentís office and DCPS each developed their 5-year 
strategic plans and involved stakeholders in developing these plans. 
The state superintendent plan and the DCPS draft strategic plan each 
contain many elements of effective plans, such as aligning short-term 
objectives to long-term goals. DCPS has recently increased its efforts 
to involve stakeholders in various initiatives; however, it has not 
always involved stakeholders in key decisions and initiatives. 

DCPS and the state superintendentís office have taken steps to improve 
accountability and performance. For example, both offices have started 
implementation of new individual employee performance management 
systems. However, while DCPS has taken some additional steps to improve 
accountability, it has not yet linked its employee expectations and 
performance evaluations to organizational goals to improve central 
office operations. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends that the Mayor direct DCPS to (1) establish planning 
processes that include evaluating internal capacity and involving 
stakeholders at key junctures; and (2) link individual performance 
evaluations for central office employees to organizational goals to 
strengthen accountability. The Districtís education offices agreed with 
GAOís recommendations and provided additional information which was 
incorporated as appropriate. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-619] or key 
components. For more information, contact Cornelia Ashby at (202) 512-
7215 or ashbyc@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Background: 

Early Initiatives Are Focused on Improving Student Achievement and DCPS 
Is Modifying Its Approach as It Moves Forward: 

DCPS Replaced Teachers and Principals and Introduced Professional 
Development Initiatives, but Encountered Challenges in Implementation: 

The State Superintendent's Office and DCPS Have Developed and Begun 
Implementing Strategic Plans; However, DCPS Has Not Always Involved 
Relevant Stakeholders in Planning and Implementing Key Initiatives: 

DCPS and the State Superintendent's Office Have Taken Steps to Improve 
Accountability and Performance, and DCPS Has Yet to Align Key Aspects 
of Its Performance Management System to Organizational Goals: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations to the Mayor of the District of Columbia: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Comments from the D.C. Mayor's Office and District 
Education Offices: 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Status of Major Academic Initiatives during the First 2 Years 
of DCPS Reform Efforts: 

Table 2: Options DCPS Selected for Schools Implementing Restructuring, 
SY 2008-2009: 

Table 3: Status of Key DCPS Data Initiatives: 

Table 4: Status of Key SLED Deliverables: 

Table 5: DCPS's Goals, as Outlined in Its Strategic Plan: 

Table 6: Key Elements of Strategic Plans and Their Inclusion in the 
State Superintendent's Office and DCPS Plans: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: D.C. Public Schools Governance Structure, prior to the 2007 
Reform Act and after the Reform Act: 

Figure 2: Federally Mandated School Improvement Status for DCPS, SY 
2008-2009: 

Figure 3: The Flow of Teachers into and out of DCPS between the 2007- 
2008 and 2008-2009 school years: 

Abbreviations: 

AYP: adequate yearly progress: 

D.C. Council: Council of the District of Columbia: 

DCPS: District of Columbia public schools: 

Education: U.S. Department of Education: 

NCLBA: No Child Left Behind Act: 

Recovery Act: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: 

Reform Act: Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007: 

SLED: Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Warehouse: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office:
Washington, DC 20548: 

June 26, 2009: 

The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable George V. Voinovich: 
Acting Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal 
Workforce, and the District of Columbia: 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

The District of Columbia's (D.C. or the District) public school system 
has had long-standing problems with student academic performance, the 
condition of school facilities, and the overall management of the D.C. 
school system. For example, test scores have lagged behind those of 
most other urban districts in a nationally administered test. Further, 
the District's public schools have fallen well behind the District's 
own targets for demonstrating adequate yearly progress toward meeting 
the congressionally mandated goal of having 100 percent of students 
proficient in math, reading, and science by 2014, as outlined in the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No 
Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). Some parents have been enrolling their 
children in charter schools, and student enrollment in D.C. public 
schools (DCPS)[Footnote 1] has declined from 65,000 in 2000-2001 to 
45,200 in 2008-2009, a decline of about 30 percent.[Footnote 2] Of the 
nearly $762 million the District spends on DCPS, 16 percent comes from 
federal sources. 

There is an increasing urgency to address these persistent problems. In 
an effort to address the lack of academic progress, declining 
enrollment, and dilapidated buildings, the Council of the District of 
Columbia (D.C. Council) approved the Public Education Reform Amendment 
Act of 2007 (Reform Act), which made major changes to the operations 
and governance of the school district.[Footnote 3] The act gave the 
Mayor broad authority over the District's public school system, 
including curricula, operations, budget, personnel, and school 
facilities. In doing so, the District joined a growing number of cities 
to adopt mayoral governance of public school systems in an effort to 
expedite major reforms. 

Because of the District's past struggles to reform its public school 
system and the broad changes in governance, Congress asked GAO to 
evaluate the District's reform efforts. As part of this evaluation, we 
testified in March 2008 about the status of the reform efforts. 
[Footnote 4] In that testimony, GAO recommended that the Mayor direct 
the D.C. Department of Education to develop a long-term district-wide 
education strategic plan that would include certain key elements 
including a mission or vision statement, long-term goals and 
priorities, and approaches and time frames for assessing progress and 
achieving goals. To provide further evaluation of the District's 
primary reform efforts, we addressed the following questions: (1) What 
steps has the District taken to address student academic achievement? 
(2) What actions has the District taken to strengthen the quality of 
teachers and principals? (3) To what extent have the District's 
education offices[Footnote 5] developed and implemented long-term plans 
and how has DCPS used stakeholder input in key initiatives? (4) What 
steps have DCPS and the state superintendent's office taken to improve 
their accountability and performance? 

To answer these questions, we reviewed and analyzed relevant documents 
and research and interviewed officials from the District's education 
offices, such as DCPS and the Office of the State Superintendent of 
Education. For example, we interviewed high-ranking officials such as 
the State Superintendent of Education; the Chancellor of DCPS; and 
departmental leaders at DCPS, including the Interim Chief Academic 
Officer, the Deputy Chancellor for Human Resources and External 
Relations, the Chief of Data and Accountability, and the head of the 
Transformation Management Office. We also interviewed representatives 
of education and research associations, and various organizations based 
in the Washington, D.C. community. Across all our objectives, we 
measured the progress of ongoing reform efforts against any 
implementation time frames established by DCPS or the state 
superintendent's office. We based our evaluation of completed 
initiatives on relevant recognized standards, such as those established 
by GAO in past reports. To understand the steps that have been taken to 
address student achievement, we gathered information about the various 
academic initiatives DCPS has planned or implemented, and reviewed and 
analyzed documentation of how schools were restructured. We assessed 
the reliability of the restructuring data for the 2008-2009 school year 
by reviewing documentation and interviewing agency officials 
knowledgeable about the data. We determined that the data were 
sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. We also 
interviewed eight principals from schools that had been consolidated as 
a result of the closure of 23 schools prior to the 2008-2009 school 
year primarily due to declining enrollments.[Footnote 6] We reviewed 
and analyzed documentation--including state-level contracts and project 
plans--regarding efforts to improve data collection, quality, and 
usage. We did not independently verify reported improvements to DCPS 
and state superintendent's office data systems. To understand how the 
District was strengthening teacher and principal quality, we reviewed 
documents regarding teacher and principal recruitment, development, and 
evaluation, as well as licensure requirements. We also interviewed 
officials from the Washington Teachers' Union, the American Federation 
of Teachers, and the Council of School Officers (principals' union). To 
address the question on strategic planning and stakeholder involvement, 
we reviewed and analyzed strategic plans, interviewed cognizant 
officials from the District's education offices, and attended public 
discussions relevant to strategic planning, as well as D.C. Council 
hearings. We also interviewed the Chairman of the D.C. Council and 
representatives from several community and education organizations, 
including DC VOICE, the Council of the Great City Schools, and Parents 
United for the D.C. Public Schools.[Footnote 7] To understand the steps 
that DCPS and the state superintendent's office have taken to improve 
performance and accountability, we reviewed the alignment of the 
individual performance management plans to organizational goals and the 
results of DCPS's internal customer satisfaction survey. To provide a 
broader national context for our work, we visited four urban school 
districts with mayoral governance: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and New 
York City. We based our selection of these districts on how long the 
school district had been under mayoral control and student demographic 
information. We interviewed high-level officials--including 
superintendents and former superintendents, school board presidents and 
members, officials from mayors' offices--as well as union leaders, and 
representatives from various community and research organizations in 
these cities. In addition, we asked officials in the District's 
education offices about their planned and actual use of economic 
stimulus funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment 
Act (Recovery Act).[Footnote 8] 

We performed our work from May 2008 through June 2009 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards 
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, 
appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence 
obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions 
based on our audit objectives. 

Background: 

The District's Public School System: 

The District's prekindergarten through grade 12 school system is 
composed of 128 public schools[Footnote 9] with enrollment for the 2008-
2009 school year around 45,200. Historically, DCPS has had several 
problems that interfere with the education of its students. One primary 
problem was the dysfunction of the central office. For example, 
textbooks were not delivered on time or at all, parents complained 
about the lack of responsiveness of the central office, and teachers 
were not always paid on time. In addition, data systems were obsolete 
and inundated with errors, making it difficult to access basic 
information, such as the number of students enrolled at a school and 
student attendance rates. Such problems persisted in the D.C. public 
school system for several years despite numerous efforts to address 
them. In 1989, a report by the D.C. Committee on Public Education noted 
declining achievement levels as students moved through grades, the poor 
condition of the school system's physical facilities, and the lack of 
accountability among D.C. agencies for the schools.[Footnote 10] Recent 
reports have continued to cite these problems. In 2004, the Council of 
the Great City Schools reviewed the D.C. school system and cited the 
continued failure to improve student achievement.[Footnote 11] 

Efforts to improve the District's schools often included new leadership 
to head the troubled school system. Over the last 20 years, DCPS has 
employed more than seven superintendents with an average tenure of 2.9 
years. Such frequent changes in leadership may have further complicated 
efforts to improve student achievement, as each leader may have brought 
a different cadre of initiatives and goals which were not fully 
developed or implemented with the constant changes in leadership. In 
2006, an analysis of the school system's reform efforts by a consulting 
firm found no progress in student achievement and recommended a change 
in governance to improve student achievement and system-wide 
accountability.[Footnote 12] 

The Reform Act: 

In response to the problems facing the District's public school system, 
the D.C. Council (the legislative branch of the D.C. government) 
approved the 2007 Reform Act, which significantly altered the 
governance of the D.C. public schools. The Reform Act transferred the 
day-to-day management of the public schools from the Board of Education 
to the Mayor and placed DCPS under the Mayor's office as a cabinet- 
level agency. Prior to the Reform Act, the head of D.C. public schools 
was selected by and reported to the Board of Education. The Reform Act 
also moved the state functions into a new state superintendent's 
office, established a separate facilities office, and created the D.C. 
Department of Education headed by the Deputy Mayor for Education. The 
Deputy Mayor's Office and the state superintendent's office are also 
cabinet-level offices in the D.C. government structure. 

Figure 1: D.C. Public Schools Governance Structure, prior to the 2007 
Reform Act and after the Reform Act: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Before the Reform Act of 2007: 

Top level: Mayor. 

Second level, reporting to the Mayor: 
* State Education Office[B]; 

Second level, no upward reporting: 
* Board of Education. 

Third level, reporting to the Board of Education: 
* District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS); 
* State Education Agency[A]; 
* Local Education Agency; 
* Office of Facilities Management. 

After the Reform Act of 2007: 

Top level: Mayor. 

Second level, reporting to the Mayor: 
* Department of Education headed by Deputy Mayor (new entity 
established by the Reform Act); 
* District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) headed by Chancellor(new 
entity established by the Reform Act); 
* Office of the City Administrator[D]. 

Third level, reporting to the Department of Education headed by Deputy 
Mayor: 
* Office of the State Superintendent of Education (new entity 
established by the Reform Act); 
* Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (new entity 
established by the Reform Act); 
* Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education (new entity established 
by the Reform Act); 
* Interagency Collaboration and Services Integration Commission (new 
entity established by the Reform Act). 

Fourth level, reporting to the Office of the State Superintendent of 
Education: 
* State Board of Education[C]; 
* Public Charter Schools[E]. 

Note: The Office of the State Superintendent of Education provides 
oversight, monitoring and technical assistance to DCPS for federal and 
state education programs. 

Source: GAO analysis based on The Parthenon Group, December 2006 and 
D.C. government documents. 

[A] The State Education Agency had responsibility for administering 
federal grant money, and setting state academic standards, achievement 
goals, and graduation requirements. The Local Education Agency, 
typically referred to as the school district, had responsibility for 
the management and operations of D.C. public schools. 

[B] The State Education Office administered food nutrition programs and 
state scholarship grants. 

[C] The State Board of Education was the Board of Education prior to 
the Reform Act. 

[D] The Office of the City Administrator prepares the District's annual 
operating budget and provides direction to all District agencies, 
including DCPS. Prior to the Reform Act, the City Administrator did not 
have this role because the Mayor did not have direct oversight of DCPS. 

[E] The public charter schools comprised 59 school districts as of 
March 2009. The charter schools often consist of just one school (some 
charters have multiple campuses). The Public Charter School Board also 
has some oversight of the District's public charter schools. 

[End of figure] 

Office of the State Superintendent of Education: 

Although the District of Columbia is not a state, its Office of the 
State Superintendent of Education serves as the District's state 
education agency. Prior to the Reform Act, state functions and local 
functions were conducted in one office which led to problems with 
oversight and monitoring. Further, the District was and continues to be 
on the U.S. Department of Education's (Education) high-risk list for 
its management of federal education grants. The Reform Act addressed 
such issues by clearly separating the two entities. Along with 
managing, distributing, and monitoring the use of federal funds across 
DCPS and the public charter schools,[Footnote 13] the office of the 
state superintendent has a significant policy role. For example, the 
state superintendent's office works collaboratively with the State 
Board of Education to set standards of what students should learn in 
all the District's public schools. In addition, in carrying out NCLBA, 
the state superintendent's office is responsible for the state-wide 
assessment, or standardized test, that measures students' progress in 
attaining proficiency and sets annual proficiency targets.[Footnote 14] 
The state superintendent's office also delineates requirements for 
teacher licensure and, within the guidelines provided by NCLBA, 
determines the District's definition of "highly qualified teachers." In 
addition to these policy functions, the state superintendent's office 
also provides support to D.C. public schools and the public charter 
schools. For example, the office can offer training and technical 
assistance on a variety of topics, such as the appropriate use and 
tracking of federal education funds. 

NCLBA and the Recovery Act: 

In January 2002, Congress passed NCLBA which requires states to focus 
on increased expectations for academic performance and accountability. 
Under NCLBA, states are required to establish performance goals and 
hold schools that receive federal funds under Title I of NCLBA 
accountable for student performance by determining whether or not they 
have made adequate yearly progress (AYP). The failure to make AYP, or 
meet academic targets, for 2 or more consecutive years leads to 
specific actions that schools must take to improve student academic 
achievement. These actions, such as developing a school improvement 
plan or extending the school day, are more intensive the longer the 
school fails to meet academic targets. After 5 or more consecutive 
years of failing to meet academic targets, a school must make plans to 
restructure its governance and implement those plans the subsequent 
year. NCLBA specifies five options for restructuring schools: reopening 
as a charter school, replacing all or most of the school staff relevant 
to the failure to make AYP, contracting with another organization to 
run the school, turning the operation of the school over to the state, 
or undertaking another action that would result in restructuring the 
school's governance. 

NCLBA also establishes a federal requirement for teacher quality. It 
requires that teachers across the nation be "highly qualified" in every 
core subject they teach by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. In 
general, NCLBA requires that teachers have a bachelor's degree, have 
state certification, and demonstrate subject area knowledge for every 
core subject they teach. States also have flexibility to set the 
requirements that teachers need to meet to demonstrate that they are 
highly qualified.[Footnote 15] In March 2008, the state 
superintendent's office and the D.C. State Board of Education revised 
the District's highly qualified teacher definition to better align it 
with NCLBA's definition and allow more teachers to be considered highly 
qualified. Officials from the state superintendent's office contend 
that the District's previous highly qualified definition was more 
stringent than federal standards and disqualified good teachers from 
joining the D.C. public school system. 

The Recovery Act was enacted in February 2009 to promote economic 
recovery, make investments, and minimize and avoid reductions in state 
and local government services. About $100 billion of the $787 billion 
funds included in the Recovery Act are targeted to support education at 
the state and local level. Some of the Recovery Act funds support 
existing programs, such as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary 
Education Act, as amended by NCLBA, and parts of the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act. In addition, the new State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund provides funds to restore state support for 
elementary and secondary education, public higher education, and early 
childhood education programs and services. The District will receive an 
estimated $148 million of Recovery Act funds to support its education 
programs. 

Pay for Performance Initiatives: 

The current teacher compensation system used by most school districts 
in the United States dates back to the 1920s and pays teachers based on 
their level of education and years of experience. However, many school 
districts have begun to experiment with alternative methods of 
compensation that reward teachers on certain elements of performance, 
such as improving student achievement, filling hard-to-staff positions, 
and taking on additional responsibilities. Some school districts offer 
bonuses for all staff or all teachers at schools who have met certain 
criteria (usually including an increase in student achievement). Other 
school districts offer differentiated pay to teachers based on 
characteristics other than education and years of experience. For 
example, the Denver Public School District has implemented a teacher 
compensation plan that allows multiple pathways to compensation 
bonuses. Bonuses can be based on professional evaluations using a 
standards-based system, progress toward objectives as agreed upon by 
teachers and their principal, and growth in student achievement on the 
Colorado Student Assessment Program. Teachers may receive additional 
incentives for filling hard-to-staff positions. The Denver plan is 
funded through a tax levy, federal grants, and private funding. 

National teachers' unions approve of some types of differentiated or 
incentive pay. Specifically, the American Federation of Teachers, which 
is the parent union of the Washington Teachers' Union, has taken the 
position that teacher compensation plans could include financial 
incentives to teachers who acquire additional knowledge and skills or 
agree to teach in low-performing and hard-to-staff schools. In 
addition, the American Federation of Teachers supports incentive pay 
for school-wide improvement. 

Early Initiatives Are Focused on Improving Student Achievement and DCPS 
Is Modifying Its Approach as It Moves Forward: 

During the first 2 years of its reform efforts, DCPS implemented 
several classroom-based initiatives to improve students' basic skills 
in core subjects and implemented a new staffing model designed to give 
all students access to art, music, and physical education classes. In 
addition, as required by NCLBA, DCPS restructured 22 schools before the 
fall of 2008, after the schools failed to meet academic targets for 6 
consecutive years. Restructuring will be ongoing as the vast majority 
of DCPS schools are in some form of school improvement status under 
NCLBA. In addition, DCPS and the state superintendent's office are 
planning and developing new ways to use data to monitor student 
achievement and school performance. DCPS is refocusing or revising its 
approach to many of these initiatives as it continues to implement 
them. 

DCPS Quickly Implemented Many Separate Initiatives to Improve Overall 
Student Performance and DCPS Is Refocusing Its Approach as It Moves 
Forward: 

During the first 2 years of reform, DCPS quickly implemented various 
initiatives intended to improve student achievement. For example, to 
improve students' basic skills and standardized test scores in reading 
and math, DCPS introduced targeted interventions for students 
struggling in math and reading[Footnote 16] and provided additional 
instruction and practice to improve students' responses to open-ended 
questions, including test questions. DCPS also introduced Saturday 
classes primarily targeted to students in grades 3 through 12 who were 
on the cusp of meeting academic targets on standardized tests. It also 
introduced initiatives designed to address student motivation and 
behavior. For example, DCPS piloted the Capital Gains program with the 
specific goals of improving student engagement, and ultimately student 
learning, by offering financial incentives to students for attendance, 
academic performance, and other positive behaviors. Table 1 provides a 
list of DCPS's major initiatives to improve student outcomes, as well 
as descriptions and the status of these initiatives. 

Table 1: Status of Major Academic Initiatives during the First 2 Years 
of DCPS Reform Efforts: 

Initiative: Reading and math interventions; 
How it works: Provides supplemental intensive instruction and practice 
for struggling students; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Check]; 
Standardized test scores: [Check]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Empty]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Check]. 

Initiative: Saturday classes for targeted students; 
How it works: Extends class time to Saturdays; primarily targeted to 
students close to meeting academic targets; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Check]; 
Standardized test scores: [Check]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Check]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Empty]. 

Initiative: Targeted instructional practices; 
How it works: Provides additional practice on answering short answer 
test questions, using calculators, and playing math games; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Check]; 
Standardized test scores: [Check]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Empty]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Empty]. 

Initiative: Pacing guides; 
How it works: Provides guidance to teachers to help focus instruction 
on what students are expected to know and testing timetable; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Check]; 
Standardized test scores: [Check]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Empty]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Check]. 

Initiative: Capital Gains; 
How it works: Offers money to students for attendance, behavior, and 
academic performance; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Empty]; 
Standardized test scores: [Empty]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Check]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Empty]. 

Initiative: Staffing model; 
How it works: Provides access to art, music, and physical education as 
well as supports for all students; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Empty]; 
Standardized test scores: [Empty]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Check]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Check]. 

Initiative: Teaching and learning framework; (planned); 
How it works: Provides guidance to teachers on how to plan, deliver, 
and evaluate instruction; 
The initiatives target: 
Reading and math interventions: [Check]; 
Standardized test scores: [Check]; 
Student engagement[A]: [Check]; 
School year (SY) initiative was (or will be) launched and status: 
Being revised: [Empty]. 

Source: GAO analysis of DCPS documents. 

[A] Engaging students in their schooling involves focusing on ways to 
increase attendance, classroom participation, and other positive 
behaviors. Such activities may increase student motivation, and 
eventually may even increase academic achievement. 

Recently, the Chancellor acknowledged that DCPS, in its effort to 
remedy the range of issues that plagued the District's public schools, 
may have launched too many initiatives at once. The Chancellor noted 
that some schools may have lacked the capacity to implement so many 
programs effectively. In particular, some schools were undergoing 
significant organizational changes that may have affected their ability 
to implement these new academic initiatives. To support such schools, 
DCPS is considering offering a choice of programs for schools and 
allowing the principals to determine which programs best suit their 
schools' needs and capacity. 

DCPS does not yet know how successful these programs have been in 
improving student achievement. While DCPS students achieved gains on 
the 2008 state-wide test, increasing between 8 and 11 percentage points 
in math and reading for both elementary and secondary levels, it is 
unclear whether these gains can be attributed to the current reform 
efforts or to prior efforts.[Footnote 17] While DCPS officials told us 
that it is generally difficult to isolate and quantify the impact of 
any single program on student achievement, they were able to review an 
analysis of reading scores conducted by the vendor of one of its early 
reading programs. The vendor's analysis showed that on some tests DCPS 
students who participated in the reading program generally scored 
higher than those who did not.[Footnote 18] Further, DCPS officials 
told us they plan to analyze, in late summer of 2009, student outcomes, 
including state-wide test scores, to assess the effectiveness of 
various interventions. 

In addition, DCPS officials told us the success of the math and reading 
initiatives depended in part on how well teachers implemented them in 
the classroom. They also noted that there were varying levels of 
teacher quality and knowledge of effective teaching practices, and that 
it was difficult to ensure the extent to which teachers implemented the 
programs effectively. While DCPS had not defined "effective" teaching 
prior to the rollout of the above initiatives, officials told us that 
moving forward, they will focus on practicing effective teaching, as 
opposed to implementing various disparate programs. DCPS is developing 
a framework that is intended to help teachers understand the priorities 
moving forward, including understanding what students are expected to 
learn for each subject, how to prepare lessons, and effective teaching 
methods to be used. According to DCPS officials, this framework will be 
aligned to teacher evaluations. DCPS plans to implement this framework 
by the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. 

DCPS Encountered Challenges Allocating Teachers across Schools and Is 
Revising Its Approach for the 2009-2010 School Year: 

In an effort to ensure that all students would have access to certain 
subjects and supports, DCPS changed the way it allocated teachers 
across its schools for the 2008-2009 school year. This new staffing 
model was intended to provide all schools with a core of teachers 
including art, music, and physical education, as well as social 
workers. It also was intended to provide all schools with reading 
coaches who work with teachers to improve reading instruction. Prior to 
this change, DCPS allocated funding to schools using a weighted student 
formula, which distributed funds to schools on a per pupil basis, so 
that the greater the enrollment of a school, the greater the amount 
allocated to that school.[Footnote 19] Principals then chose how to 
staff the school based on the amount of funding available, staffing 
requirements, and their perception of the school's needs. Consequently, 
some schools--especially smaller schools--did not have the student 
enrollment to support programs,[Footnote 20] such as music and art, and 
other schools that had the funds to support those programs opted not to 
do so. While the new staffing model ensures a core staff at all schools 
regardless of enrollment,[Footnote 21] DCPS allowed principals to 
request changes based on their school's needs.[Footnote 22] However, 
DCPS lacked a transparent process for making changes to the staffing 
allocation. In particular, DCPS did not establish or communicate clear 
guidance or criteria on how such requests would be treated. Further, 
DCPS granted or denied requests for changes to the original staffing 
allocation on a school-by-school basis, and it is unclear whether 
similar requests were treated in a consistent manner. A more 
transparent process, one that made public their rationale for 
decisions, would have helped assure stakeholders, including the D.C. 
Council, that changes to staffing allocations were made consistently 
and fairly. The D.C. Council and several community groups have 
criticized the process for its lack of transparency and questioned the 
fairness of the decisions made. For example, one independent analysis 
concluded that some schools received less per pupil funding than others 
with similar student populations.[Footnote 23] In addition, DCPS 
officials told us that in some cases, the changes to the original 
staffing model resulted in schools being granted allocations beyond 
their budgeted amounts. 

DCPS revamped its approach for the staffing model for the 2009-2010 
school year to address some of these challenges. For example, it 
established guidance about what changes it will allow principals to 
make to the staffing model and disseminated this guidance to school 
leaders at the beginning of the budgeting process. According to DCPS, 
the new guidance is expected to reduce the number of changes that 
principals request later in the process. 

DCPS Closed 23 Schools Primarily Due to Low Enrollment, Restructured 22 
Other Schools as Required by NCLBA, and Is Changing Its Process for 
Selecting Restructuring Options: 

During the summer of 2008, DCPS closed 23 schools primarily due to low 
student enrollment. Students from the closed schools, about 5,000 
students according to DCPS, enrolled in 1 of 26 schools, referred to as 
receiving schools. DCPS updated facilities at these receiving schools 
to accommodate the influx of students from the newly closed schools. In 
addition, to assist these students and schools with the transition that 
this reorganization created, DCPS offered a more comprehensive version 
of its staffing model. In addition to the core staff of the standard 
staffing model, DCPS allocated additional staff, such as school 
psychologists and math coaches to the receiving schools. During the 
consolidation effort, DCPS also created several prekindergarten through 
grade 8 schools in some cases where elementary schools were 
underenrolled. In addition, according to DCPS, these prekindergarten 
through grade 8 schools were intended to create a smoother transition 
to middle school and reduce the number of elementary schools with 
different grade levels preparing students for the same middle or junior 
high school. By closing the 23 underenrolled schools, DCPS estimates it 
was able to redirect $15 million from administrative and facility costs 
to support these additional staff. The eight principals we interviewed 
at receiving schools provided mixed reports about the adequacy of their 
staffing allocations. On the one hand, three principals reported having 
adequate staff, and two others cited minor issues[Footnote 24]. The 
remaining three principals cited issues such as teacher skill levels, 
teacher vacancies, and inadequate training to accommodate an influx of 
special education students. 

In addition, as required by NCLBA, DCPS restructured 22 of its lowest 
performing schools for the 2008-2009 school year[Footnote 25] after the 
schools failed to meet academic targets for 6 consecutive years. NCLBA 
specifies five options for restructuring schools, including replacing 
selected staff or contracting with another organization or company to 
run the school (table 2 lists the various NCLBA options and the options 
DCPS selected for the 2008-2009 school year). At 18 of the 22 schools 
in restructuring, DCPS replaced the school staff--principals, teachers, 
and/or administrative support staff--who were deemed relevant to the 
failure to meet academic targets. For the remaining schools in 
restructuring, DCPS elected to contract with other organizations or 
undertake other actions, such as adding more intensive school-level 
services to support students and families. 

Table 2: Options DCPS Selected for Schools Implementing Restructuring, 
SY 2008-2009: 

Type of school: Elementary; 
Option 1: Reopen school as a charter school: 0; 
Option 2: Replace the staff (which could include the principal) 
relevant to school not meeting academic targets: 3; 
Option 3: Contract with another organization or company to operate 
school: 0; 
Option 4: Turn operation of school over to the state: 0; 
Option 5: Implement any other major restructuring of school's 
governance[A]: 1. 

Type of school: Prekindergarten through grade 8; 
Option 1: Reopen school as a charter school: 0; 
Option 2: Replace the staff (which could include the principal) 
relevant to school not meeting academic targets: 2; 
Option 3: Contract with another organization or company to operate 
school: 0; 
Option 4: Turn operation of school over to the state: 0; 
Option 5: Implement any other major restructuring of school's 
governance[A]: 1. 

Type of school: Middle school/junior high; 
Option 1: Reopen school as a charter school: 0; 
Option 2: Replace the staff (which could include the principal) 
relevant to school not meeting academic targets: 7; 
Option 3: Contract with another organization or company to operate 
school: 1; 
Option 4: Turn operation of school over to the state: 0; 
Option 5: Implement any other major restructuring of school's 
governance[A]: 4. 

Type of school: High school; 
Option 1: Reopen school as a charter school: 0; 
Option 2: Replace the staff (which could include the principal) 
relevant to school not meeting academic targets: 6; 
Option 3: Contract with another organization or company to operate 
school: 4; 
Option 4: Turn operation of school over to the state: 0; 
Option 5: Implement any other major restructuring of school's 
governance[A]: 2. 

Type of school: Total[B]; 
Option 1: Reopen school as a charter school: 0; 
Option 2: Replace the staff (which could include the principal) 
relevant to school not meeting academic targets: 18; 
Option 3: Contract with another organization or company to operate 
school: 5; 
Option 4: Turn operation of school over to the state: 0; 
Option 5: Implement any other major restructuring of school's 
governance[A]: 8. 

Source: GAO analysis based on DCPS data. 

[A] These include actions such as adding more intensive school-level 
services to support students and families. 

[B] DCPS selected more than one option for some schools. 

[End of table] 

Restructuring underperforming schools will likely be an ongoing 
initiative for DCPS, as 89 of its 118 schools[Footnote 26] are in some 
form of school improvement status. (See figure 2 for more details on 
DCPS's school improvement status.) 

Figure 2: Federally Mandated School Improvement Status for DCPS, SY 
2008-2009: 

[Refer to PDF for image: two pie-charts] 

Total number of schools = 118; 
Schools not meeting academic targets: 89; 
Schools meeting academic targets: 29. 

Total number of schools not meeting academic targets = 89: 
Schools in needs improvement (first year of improvement)[A]: 14; 
Schools in needs improvement (second year of improvement)[B]: 23; 
Schools in corrective action (third year of improvement): 17; 
Schools in restructuring planning (fourth year of improvement)[D]: 13; 
Schools in restructuring implementation (fifth year of improvement)[E]: 
22. 

Source: GAO analysis based on DCPS data. 

[End of figure] 

[A] Schools in Needs Improvement Status (First Year of Improvement) 
have missed academic targets for 2 consecutive years. The school 
district must offer the students in these schools the opportunity to 
transfer to a higher-performing public school in the district (public 
school choice). Schools that miss academic targets for the first year 
are not placed in school improvement status and are not required to 
undergo any NCLBA interventions. 

[B] Schools in Needs Improvement Status (Second Year of Improvement) 
have missed academic targets for 3 consecutive years. The school 
district must offer students public school choice or supplemental 
education services (SES), such as tutoring. 

[C] Schools in Corrective Action Status (Third Year of Improvement) 
have missed academic targets for 4 consecutive years. The school 
district must implement at least one of six activities such as 
replacing selected staff or implementing a new curriculum. The district 
must also offer students public school choice or SES. 

[D] Schools in Restructuring Planning (Fourth Year of Improvement) have 
missed academic targets for 5 consecutive years. The school district is 
required to plan for a change in governance, such as replacing selected 
staff or contracting with another organization or company to run the 
school. The district must also offer students public school choice or 
SES. 

[E] Schools in Restructuring Implementation (Fifth Year of Improvement) 
have missed academic targets for 6 consecutive years. The school 
district is required to implement a change in governance. The district 
must also offer students public school choice or SES. 

DCPS revamped its process for determining the most appropriate 
restructuring option for the 13 schools that will be restructured in 
the 2009-2010 school year. Prior to implementing the first round of 
restructuring (i.e., for the 2008-2009 school year), DCPS officials 
told us there were insufficient school visits and inadequate training 
and guidance for teams assigned to evaluate which restructuring option 
was best suited for a given school. For example, the initial process 
called for review teams to visit each school once, which according to 
DCPS officials, did not allow the teams to obtain sufficient evidence 
to evaluate the schools' condition. DCPS has addressed these issues by 
requiring two visits to each school, offering more training, and 
revising the form used to evaluate each school's condition for the next 
round of restructuring. 

In addition, DCPS officials told us they cannot continue to rely on 
replacing teachers and principals as the primary restructuring option 
because DCPS cannot terminate the teachers,[Footnote 27] and moving 
these teachers to other schools may undermine the District's reform 
efforts. DCPS did not assess its capacity for replacing staff at 
schools restructured in the 2008-2009 school year. According to DCPS, 
nearly half of the 160 teachers that were removed from these schools 
had to be placed at 38 other DCPS schools.[Footnote 28] For the 2009- 
2010 school year, DCPS has decided to replace select staff at 6 of the 
13 schools that will be restructured. (For more details, see the 
section on teacher and principal quality later in this report.) 

DCPS and the State Superintendent's Office Are Working to Enhance and 
Create Data Systems to Monitor Student and School Performance: 

DCPS reported it has ongoing and planned initiatives to expand data 
access to principals and teachers, in part to monitor student and 
school performance. In particular, DCPS reported it made improvements 
to its primary student data system[Footnote 29] so central office users 
can better monitor school performance. For example, DCPS officials 
reported that they consolidated several student data systems by 
February 2009, including the system containing standardized test 
scores, into the primary student data system with the intent to improve 
data accuracy and consistency. They also told us they added software to 
the primary student data system that enabled central office employees 
to develop monthly reports of schools' performance data, such as 
attendance and test scores. DCPS plans to eventually use these monthly 
reports to enable school leaders to better monitor student progress, 
and plans to develop an internal Web site that compiles various student 
and school information in one place for key stakeholders including 
central office staff and principals. However, DCPS officials told us 
they have delayed some of these efforts while they attempt to improve 
coordination among the various departments that were developing and 
disseminating information to school leaders. DCPS has not yet announced 
when the project will be completed. See table 3 for more details about 
key DCPS data initiatives and their status. 

Table 3: Status of Key DCPS Data Initiatives: 

Initiative: Upgrade software and hardware on primary student data 
system; 
Status: Completed summer 2008. 

Initiative: Consolidate several data systems into primary student data 
system; 
Status: Completed by February 2009. 

Initiative: Release school performance data in monthly reports to key 
stakeholders; 
Status: Being revised; timeline has not been established. 

Initiative: Implement a Web-accessible school-level data system to 
generate reports on school performance and demographics; 
Status: Completed October 2008. 

Initiative: Launch internal Web site that links to various student and 
school information for key stakeholders; 
Status: Expected to be launched late summer 2009. 

Source: GAO analysis based on DCPS documents and interviews. 

[End of table] 

The state superintendent's office also is developing a longitudinal 
database, called the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Warehouse 
(SLED) that is intended to allow DCPS and other stakeholders to access 
a broad array of information, including standardized test scores of 
students and information on teachers[Footnote 30]. SLED is intended to 
allow the District to track student registration and movement among 
DCPS's schools and the public charter schools more accurately, as well 
as expand the District's ability to monitor student achievement and 
growth over time. According to officials in the state superintendent's 
office, they revised the project schedule to allow more time to assist 
the charter schools with updating their data systems. In February 2009, 
the initial release of student data provided a student identification 
number and information on student eligibility for free or reduced-price 
lunches and other student demographics for all students attending 
DCPS's schools and the public charter schools. The state 
superintendent's office plans for SLED to enable DCPS to link student 
and teacher data by February 2010. (See table 4 for more details about 
the status of key SLED deliverables.) This link is to provide DCPS with 
data on the classes students enrolled in, the teachers that taught the 
classes, any academic interventions students received, students' grades 
and test scores, and student demographics. 

Table 4: Status of Key SLED Deliverables: 

SLED deliverable: Unique student identifier (student ID); 
Planned completion date: February 2009; 
Completed: [Check]. 

SLED deliverable: Free and reduced-price lunch indicator for students; 
Planned completion date: February 2009; 
Completed: [Check]. 

SLED deliverable: Historical state test scores from 2006-2008 linked to 
student ID; 
Planned completion date: June 2009; 
Completed: [Empty]. 

SLED deliverable: State test scores from 2009 linked to student ID; 
Planned completion date: July 2009; 
Completed: [Empty]. 

SLED deliverable: Comprehensive student data, including enrollment, 
grades, and demographics; Planned completion date: October 2009; 
Completed: [Empty]. 

SLED deliverable: Link student data to comprehensive teacher data, 
including unique teacher ID, classes and subjects taught, and 
certification; 
Planned completion date: February 2010; 
Completed: [Empty]. 

Source: GAO analysis based on Office of the State Superintendent 
documents. 

[End of table] 

DCPS Replaced Teachers and Principals and Introduced Professional 
Development Initiatives, but Encountered Challenges in Implementation: 

DCPS is attempting to improve the quality of its teacher and principal 
workforce by hiring new teachers and principals and by providing 
professional development. After the 2007-2008 school year, about one- 
fifth of the teachers and one-third of the principals resigned, 
retired, or were terminated from DCPS. However, DCPS officials told us 
that the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 teacher evaluation process did not 
allow them to assess whether the teacher workforce improved between 
these 2 school years. In addition, DCPS introduced professional 
development initiatives for teachers and principals, but late decisions 
about the program for teachers led to inconsistent implementation. 

DCPS Focused on a Workforce Replacement Strategy to Strengthen the 
Quality of Teachers and Principals, but Is Unsure New Staff Are an 
Improvement: 

DCPS focused on a workforce replacement strategy to strengthen teacher 
and principal quality. DCPS maintains that the quality of teachers is 
the single greatest determinant to improving student achievement, and a 
growing body of research has shown that teacher quality is a 
significant factor in improving student academic performance.[Footnote 
31] Yet it is often difficult to remove teachers for performance issues 
beyond their initial, or probationary, years in a given school system. 
For example, in the 2006-2007 school year, only 1 teacher was removed 
from DCPS for poor performance out of more than 4,000 teachers. 
Representatives from the Washington Teachers' Union agreed that there 
were several poor performing teachers in DCPS, but stated that the 2- 
year probationary period is the appropriate time to identify and 
dismiss poor teachers at will. 

DCPS began implementing its teacher replacement strategy near the end 
of the 2007-2008 school year. Specifically, about one-fifth of the 
teachers and one-third of the principals resigned, retired, or were 
terminated from the school system at the end of the 2007-2008 school 
year.[Footnote 32] DCPS terminated about 350 teachers, approximately 
100 of whom were released for underperformance at the end of their 
probationary period, when tenure decisions were made. The remaining 250 
teachers were terminated because they did not meet specified time 
frames to become highly qualified under NCLBA. An additional 400 
teachers accepted financial incentives offered by DCPS to resign or 
retire in the spring of 2008. A DCPS official told us there is 
anecdotal evidence suggesting DCPS lost some quality teachers through 
the contract buyouts, but officials noted that DCPS did not have 
measures in place to deter effective teachers from accepting the 
buyouts. In addition, DCPS did not renew the contracts of 42 
principals, citing their failure to improve student achievement on 
standardized tests and to adequately implement school-wide programs. 

To replace the teachers and principals who left the system, DCPS 
launched a nationwide recruitment effort for the 2008-2009 school year. 
DCPS hired 566 teachers and 46 principals for the 2008-2009 school 
year.[Footnote 33] Of the 566 teachers, 395 were hired from traditional 
backgrounds or other school systems and 171 came from nontraditional 
paths such as the D.C. Teaching Fellows program and Teach for 
America.[Footnote 34] (See figure 3 for more details about the flow of 
teachers into and out of DCPS between the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 
school years.) 

Figure 3: The Flow of Teachers into and out of DCPS between the 2007- 
2008 and 2008-2009 school years: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

566 total teachers coming into DCPS School year 2008-2009: 
* 395 teachers from traditional backgrounds or other school systems; 
* 123 teachers from the D.C. Teaching Fellows program; 
* 48 teachers from Teach for America. 

817 total teachers leaving DCPS After school year 2007-2008: 
* 400 teachers who accepted financial incentives from DCPS to resign or 
retire; 
* 250 teachers who were let go because they were past the 2-year 
deadline to become Highly Qualified under NCLBA; 
* 100 probationary teachers who were let go because they were deemed 
under performers; 
* 67 teachers who resigned or retired without financial incentives. 

Sources: GAO analysis; images, Art Explosion. 

[End of figure] 

However, DCPS did not have a new teacher contract in place due to 
ongoing negotiations with the Washington Teachers' Union and officials 
told us this may have hindered their efforts to attract top-quality 
teachers. The Chancellor has stated that she wants to recruit and 
retain quality teachers by offering merit pay, which would reward 
teachers with higher salaries based, in part, on their students' scores 
on standardized state tests. Under the plan, which has been in 
negotiation with the Washington Teachers' Union since November 2007, 
teachers could voluntarily relinquish job protections in exchange for 
base salaries and bonuses totaling over $100,000 per school year. This 
plan relies on over $200 million in contributions from private 
foundations to fund the teacher contract, including salary increases 
and professional development. According to the Chancellor, private 
foundations continue to pledge their support, even with the current 
economic downturn. DCPS officials told us the higher annual salaries 
and bonuses would be sustainable with public funds if private funding 
is not available when the 5-year contract expires. 

[Sidebar: Merit Pay for Teachers across School Systems with Mayoral 
Governance: 

In addition to DCPS, three of the four school systems under mayoral 
governance we visitedóChicago, Cleveland, and New York Cityóhave 
implemented financial incentives, or merit pay, to reward teachers for 
student achievement gains. DCPS, the Chicago Public Schools, and the 
Cleveland Metropolitan School District all receive Teacher Incentive 
Fund grants from Education to help fund their merit pay programs. DCPS 
and the Chicago Public Schools use these grants to reward the entire 
staff of high-performing schools, including the principal, teachers, 
and administrative staff. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District 
also uses the grants to reward all school employees for achieving 
school-wide goals, but in addition rewards individual teachers for 
taking on extra duties and assignments while delivering student 
achievement gains. While New York City did not use federal funding for 
its merit pay initiative, the school system also rewards the entire 
staff of high-performing schools. End of sidebar] 

In addition, an official told us DCPS does not have an adequate means 
to assess whether its teacher workforce improved between the 2007-2008 
and 2008-2009 school years because the current teacher evaluation 
system is not an effective way to assess teacher performance. Under 
this evaluation system, principals evaluate teachers' subject matter 
knowledge, classroom management skills, and adherence to academic 
standards, among other elements. However, this system does not measure 
teachers' impact on student achievement, which, according to DCPS, is a 
key factor in evaluating teacher effectiveness. In addition, according 
to DCPS, teacher evaluations conducted in prior years did not 
adequately distinguish excellent from poor performance--almost all 
teachers received satisfactory ratings. As a result, DCPS officials 
told us they cannot determine the quality of the 566 new teachers 
relative to the 817 teachers who left the system. 

The current teacher evaluation system remains the primary mechanism for 
identifying teachers considered ineffective. During the 2008-2009 
school year, principals used the evaluation system to place 147 tenured 
teachers deemed underperforming on 90-day improvement plans. At the end 
of 90 school days, principals decide whether to retain or terminate 
these teachers. In prior years, DCPS did not use the 90-day process to 
this extent. 

DCPS plans to revise its teacher evaluation process to more directly 
link teacher performance to student achievement. The proposed system 
includes a value-added component that would measure teachers, in part, 
on their ability to improve students' standardized test scores over the 
course of a school year. This value-added measure would only apply to 
about 20 percent of the teacher workforce, since not all grades and 
subjects are tested. DCPS plans to use a less formal student 
achievement measure for teachers in nontested grades and subjects in 
the short term, but is working to increase the number of teachers for 
whom student achievement growth data are available. In addition, DCPS's 
proposed evaluation system would add classroom observations by third- 
party observers, called master teachers, who would be knowledgeable 
about teaching the relevant subject matter and grade level, to 
supplement school administrators' observations of teachers. To solicit 
input on the proposed evaluation system, the Chancellor held a series 
of sessions in spring 2009 with teachers, teacher coaches, and other 
school staff, and engaged the Washington Teachers' Union. DCPS 
officials told us that the feedback was generally positive and that 
teachers found the proposed evaluation system to be fair, transparent, 
and an improvement over the current evaluation. However, some teachers 
were concerned about using students' test scores as part of the 
evaluation. 

For the 2007-2008 school year, DCPS revised the principal evaluation 
system, which holds principals accountable for improvements in 
students' standardized test scores and achieving other standards. DCPS 
will be able to use this evaluation system to determine if principals 
performed better during the 2008-2009 school year than in 2007-2008. 

DCPS Introduced Teacher Coaches and a Principals' Academy to Provide 
Professional Development and Improve Skills, but Encountered Challenges 
in Implementation: 

In addition to the workforce replacement strategy, DCPS changed the way 
in which it develops its teacher workforce. DCPS began placing teacher 
coaches in schools to help teachers increase student achievement at 
their workplaces. Previously, DCPS's teacher training was not 
systematic or aligned with the school district's goals. For the 2008-
2009 school year, DCPS hired about 150 teacher coaches to improve 
teachers' skills in delivering reading and math instruction and boost 
student test scores.[Footnote 35] DCPS officials told us their decision 
to implement school-based teacher coaches was based on research 
demonstrating gains in student achievement as a result of teacher 
coaches collaborating with teachers to improve instruction. For the 
2008-2009 school year, teacher coaches focused on helping new teachers 
and teachers with students in grades 3 through 10 in reading and math 
instruction. For example, teacher coaches, at the direction of 
principals, assisted teachers with interpreting student test scores, 
planning lessons, and using their classroom time constructively. DCPS 
is planning for teacher coaches to work with teachers in all grades and 
subjects for the 2009-2010 school year. 

Late hiring of teacher coaches, however, affected the implementation of 
the professional development plan for the 2008-2009 school year. DCPS 
officials told us they made the decision to hire teacher coaches after 
their review of school restructuring plans in June 2008. DCPS officials 
told us that, as a result of this late decision, they were unable to 
adequately recruit a sufficient number of qualified staff to fill these 
positions. Specifically, qualified teacher coach applicants had 
accepted jobs elsewhere, since many school systems recruit staff from 
February through April. 

[Sidebar: School-based Teacher Coaches Are a Growing Trend in U.S. 
Public Education: 

School-based teacher coach programs are increasingly popular in U.S. 
school districts. Typically in school-based coaching models, veteran 
teachers are assigned to provide continuous guidance and advice to 
teachers to help them improve their instruction. During our Boston site 
visit, officials told us that Boston Public Schools had partnered with 
a nonprofit organization to introduce a reading coach program, called 
Collaborative Coaching and Learning. This program, which was 
implemented district-wide in 2003, provides in-school, in-classroom 
support for teachers from coaches skilled in content areas, along with 
time for teachers to collaborate with one another and the coaches to 
analyze student data, observe model lessons, try out the model lessons, 
and reflect on their practices together. According to the Boston Plan 
for Excellence, it is difficult to analyze exactly how changed teacher 
practices results in increased student learning. A 2003 study concluded 
that 2 years after piloting the reading coach program, Boston teachers 
were reflecting more on their own and each otherís work. However, the 
study agreed that measuring the coaching programís contribution to 
increased student learning is difficult. End of sidebar] 

DCPS intended to staff about 170 teacher coaching positions, however, 
as DCPS began the 2008-2009 school year, about 20 percent of the 
coaching positions remained open (19 reading coach vacancies and 16 
math coach vacancies). As of late January 2009, there were 157 teacher 
coaches working on-site in the District's public schools, with 14 total 
vacancies. Each vacancy represents a school without the full support 
(either a reading coach or both a reading coach and a math coach) that 
DCPS wanted to provide. As a result, the ratio of teachers to coaches 
was higher than it would have been had the positions been filled. In 
addition, according to DCPS officials and Washington Teachers' Union 
officials we interviewed, teacher coaches were often unclear on their 
responsibilities and how to work with teachers, and received some 
conflicting guidance from principals. For example, these officials told 
us that some principals did not assign teacher coaches to their 
intended position. At the beginning of the school year, some principals 
assigned coaches to cover classes for absent teachers or to evaluate 
teachers--a practice not allowed under union rules--meaning the coaches 
were not able to work with teachers. 

DCPS is also seeking to improve the quality of principals through the 
Principals Academy developed for the 2008-2009 school year. Consistent 
with DCPS's belief that principals should be their schools' 
instructional leaders, the academy's goals include improving 
principals' leadership skills, helping them interpret student test 
scores, and providing advice on how to use this information to improve 
their schools. The Principals Academy convenes monthly and also 
includes differentiated professional development workshops based on 
principals' individual needs. 

The State Superintendent's Office and DCPS Have Developed and Begun 
Implementing Strategic Plans; However, DCPS Has Not Always Involved 
Relevant Stakeholders in Planning and Implementing Key Initiatives: 

The state superintendent plan is a "state-level" strategic plan that 
covers the District's public schools (and public charter schools). This 
plan and DCPS's strategic plan each contain elements GAO has identified 
as key to an effective plan,[Footnote 36] such as aligning short-term 
objectives to long-term goals in order to delineate how to attain those 
goals. While DCPS has recently increased efforts to involve 
stakeholders such as parents and the D.C. Council in key initiatives, 
past stakeholder involvement was inconsistent. DCPS has not yet 
developed a method for ensuring more consistent stakeholder 
involvement. 

Both the State-Level and DCPS Strategic Plan Were Developed with 
Stakeholder Involvement and Contain Many Elements of Effective Plans: 

The state superintendent's office and the State Board of Education 
collaboratively developed the District's state-level, 5-year strategic 
plan, and released it in October 2008. This state-level plan spans 
early childhood and kindergarten through grade 12 education (including 
public charter schools).[Footnote 37] The plan was developed with 
stakeholder involvement throughout the process. Officials from the 
state superintendent's office told us they involved District officials, 
and stakeholders representing early childhood education, business, and 
higher education communities, as well as other stakeholders while 
drafting the plan. In particular, they told us they involved DCPS and 
the D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education's Office in discussions of the plan. 
In addition, in September 2008, the state superintendent's office held 
one public forum to solicit stakeholder input on the draft of the 
document, and accepted comments on the draft on their Web site. The 
office released a revised version of the plan within a month of the 
public forum. Stakeholder involvement in formulating strategic plans 
allows relevant stakeholders to share their views and concerns. In 
addition, it affords stakeholders a way to understand the rationale for 
certain decisions. Ultimately, stakeholder involvement can result in 
increasing stakeholder support, or ownership, of the strategic plan. 
[Footnote 38] 

The state-level plan details the state-level strategy for improving 
education in the District and delineates accountability measures for 
DCPS and the public charter schools. In addition, the state-level plan 
states the mission, vision, and goals of the agency. It includes three 
broad, long-term goals: to have all children ready for school, all 
schools ready to prepare students for success, and all District 
residents ready to be successful in the 21st century economy. Overall, 
the plan includes many key elements of an effective strategic plan such 
as the inclusion of objectives that delineate how the state 
superintendent's office intends to attain each of its goals. The short- 
term objectives are supported by various strategies, objective 
measures, and performance targets. For example, one objective under the 
goal of having the District's schools ready to prepare students for 
success is to ensure that all students receive rigorous instruction. 
This objective is broken down into objective measures, such as the 
percentage of elementary students scoring proficient or above on the 
state test. Further, the plan specifies annual performance targets for 
this objective for the years 2008 to 2013. See table 5 for more details 
on the elements of the state-level strategic plan. 

DCPS released the draft of its 5-year strategic plan in late October 
2008. In contrast to the state-level plan which includes the public 
charter schools, the DCPS plan is specific to prekindergarten through 
grade 12 education at its 128 schools. DCPS officials told us they 
based the draft on the Master Education Plan,[Footnote 39] which the 
prior DCPS administration developed with stakeholder involvement, and 
that they sought additional stakeholder input through a series of town 
hall meetings. After releasing the draft, DCPS held three public forums 
in the following 3 weeks where attendees provided DCPS officials with 
feedback on the draft strategic plan. In May 2009, DCPS released the 
revised draft, which incorporated stakeholder feedback. 

The DCPS 5-year strategic plan outlines the organization's vision and 
goals, and includes many elements of an effective strategic plan. For 
example the plan explains how DCPS's six broad goals are interrelated 
and how they support the vision. (Table 5 lists the six DCPS goals). 

Table 5: DCPS's Goals, as Outlined in Its Strategic Plan: 

1. Compelling Schools: Create schools that provide a consistent 
foundation in academics, strong support for social and emotional needs, 
and a variety of challenging themes and programs. 

2. Great People: Develop and retain the most highly effective educators 
in the country, and recognize and reward them. 

3. Aligned Curriculum: Implement a rigorous, relevant, college 
preparatory curriculum that gives all students meaningful options for 
life. 

4. Data Driven Decisions: Support decision making with accurate 
information about how students are performing and how the District as a 
whole is performing. 

5. Effective Central Office: Provide schools with support they need to 
operate effectively. 

6. Engaged Community: Partner with families and community members who 
demand better schools. 

Source: Making Student Achievement the Focus: A Five-year Action Plan 
for District of Columbia Public Schools, April 2009. 

[End of table] 

In addition, the DCPS plan describes the condition of DCPS prior to the 
reform effort, the progress made to date, and the steps needed to 
achieve the long-term goals. However, the DCPS plan does not 
systematically delineate measurable outcomes with clear time frames and 
does not always identify key external factors that could increase the 
risk that an initiative may fail. For example, several objectives are 
aimed at improving teacher quality; however, the plan lacks specific 
targets for measuring the expected magnitude of such an improvement. 
Without such targets, it will be difficult for the public to evaluate 
DCPS's progress toward improving its teacher workforce.[Footnote 40] In 
addition, while the strategic plan discusses increased performance- 
based pay for teachers, it does not specify the cost or explicitly 
mention the reliance on outside funding streams to achieve the 
increases.[Footnote 41] Yet, the reliance on outside funding for the 
initial 5 years is a risk that is not within DCPS's control. Table 6 
contains some key elements of the state-level and DCPS's strategic 
plans. 

Table 6: Key Elements of Strategic Plans and Their Inclusion in the 
State Superintendent's Office and DCPS Plans: 

Element: Mission statement; 
State Superintendent's Office: Yes; 
DCPS: Yes. 

Element: Long-term goals and objectives; 
State Superintendent's Office: Yes; 
DCPS: Yes. 

Element: Approaches to achieve goals and objectives; 
State Superintendent's Office: Yes; 
DCPS: Yes. 

Element: Description of relationship between long-term goals and annual 
goals; 
State Superintendent's Office: Yes; 
DCPS: Partial[A]. 

Element: Identification of key external factors that could affect 
achievement of strategic goals; 
State Superintendent's Office: Yes[B]; DCPS: 
Partial[B]. 

Element: Description of how program evaluations were used or will be 
used to define or revisit strategic goals; 
State Superintendent's Office: Yes; 
DCPS: Yes. 

Element: Description of stakeholder involvement; 
State Superintendent's Office: Involved stakeholders throughout plan 
development; 
DCPS: Plan based on prior administration's plan and stakeholder input 
incorporated in revision. 

Source: GAO analysis of strategic plans. 

Note: See GAO/GGD-10.1.16. 

[A] DCPS's draft strategic plan delineates goals and explains, with 
varying degrees of specificity, how it will achieve these goals. These 
descriptions do not always include specific measures or specific 
actions. 

[B] While the state-level plan includes external factors that could 
affect its achievement of its strategic goals, GAO did not analyze 
whether the state-level plan exhaustively lists such factors. However, 
the DCPS's draft strategic plan discusses increasing teacher 
compensation and performance-based pay without elaborating on how such 
increases will be funded, or any conditions of funding. 

[End of table] 

Officials from the D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education's office told us that 
as part of their office's coordinating role, it ensured that DCPS and 
the state-level strategic plans were aligned. However, the office had 
no documentation showing its efforts to coordinate these plans, such as 
an alignment study. We found that the two plans were aligned in terms 
of long-term goals. For example, DCPS's goals could support the state- 
level goal of having all schools ready. However, we could not evaluate 
whether more detailed, objective measures and performance targets were 
aligned because the DCPS strategic plan did not always include specific 
objective measures and performance targets. 

DCPS Has Recently Increased Its Efforts to Involve Stakeholders in 
Various Initiatives, However It Has Not Systematically Included 
Stakeholders: 

DCPS officials have several planned and ongoing efforts to involve 
stakeholders in planning, implementing, and evaluating various 
initiatives. Stakeholder involvement can be instrumental in these areas 
because stakeholders can bring different knowledge, points of view, and 
experiences to planning and implementing reform efforts.[Footnote 42] 
DCPS officials told us they have a variety of approaches to involve 
stakeholders, including parents, students, and community groups, as 
well as institutional stakeholders such as the D.C. Council. For 
example, DCPS officials told us they reach out to parents, students, 
and the public by holding monthly community forums, meeting with a 
group of high school student leaders and a parent advisory group, 
responding to e-mail, and conducting annual parent and student surveys 
to gauge the school system's performance. DCPS introduced monthly 
community forums in July 2008. These forums were generally 
informational sessions on topics chosen by DCPS officials, and were 
followed by questions from the audience. In some cases, such as the 
three forums focused on the strategic plan, DCPS officials facilitated 
discussions to elicit feedback. DCPS officials told us their efforts to 
involve students in reform efforts included a student leadership group 
that met regarding student concerns, and which was credited by DCPS 
officials for changes in the school lunch program as well as 
substantial changes to the discipline policy. DCPS also involved other 
stakeholders, such as parent organizations and the Washington Teachers' 
Union in its process of changing the discipline policy. In addition, 
DCPS officials cited the Chancellor's response to e-mail communications 
as a form of stakeholder involvement. While such communications may 
have provided stakeholders with a means of connecting to the 
Chancellor, e-mail communications are generally not public and do not 
lead to public debate or discourse.[Footnote 43] 

In spring 2008, DCPS also conducted parent and student surveys to 
assess stakeholder satisfaction with DCPS schools.[Footnote 44] While 
DCPS officials told us they have completed the analysis of the parent 
survey, they have not yet released the results. Further, DCPS did not 
receive the student survey data until February 2009 due to 
complications with a vendor who was paid to collect these data. 
[Footnote 45] As a result of the delays, DCPS officials told us they 
have been unable to use student survey responses to inform decisions 
relevant to the 2008-2009 school year. However, officials said they 
will be able to use the information as a baseline for future surveys. 

However, such activities do not ensure systematic stakeholder input in 
planning, implementing, and monitoring key initiatives. During our 
review, DCPS officials told us that stakeholder involvement was 
important to their reform efforts and that DCPS was taking steps to 
increase stakeholder involvement. However in some cases, according to 
two DCPS officials, DCPS did not have a planning process in place to 
ensure systematic stakeholder involvement, and we found that DCPS 
implemented some key initiatives with limited stakeholder 
involvement.[Footnote 46] For example, key stakeholders, including D.C. 
Council members and parent groups, told us they were not given the 
opportunity to provide input to inform DCPS's initial proposals 
regarding school closures and consolidations, although DCPS did hold 
numerous meetings after the initial proposal, before finalizing 
decisions. Similarly, stakeholders told us DCPS did not include them in 
deliberations and decisions about the establishment of prekindergarten 
to grade 8 models at some schools. Representatives from one community 
organization told us that some parents had concerns about the structure 
and academic setting at the prekindergarten to grade 8 schools, but did 
not have a venue to express those concerns before decisions about grade 
configurations were made. 

In addition, DCPS did not seek input from key stakeholders during the 
planning and early implementation of the new staffing model that placed 
art, music, and physical education teachers at schools and which 
fundamentally changed the way funding is allocated throughout DCPS. 
DCPS officials told us that they had not planned for the number of 
changes that were requested by principals. In particular, they told us 
that the vast majority of school principals requested changes to their 
initial staffing allocations. Stakeholders did not have a timely 
opportunity to raise concerns on the potential risks in implementing 
the staffing model, such as the uneven distribution of resources across 
schools and overspending at some schools. Stakeholders also said they 
were not given sufficient time to review the budget for the 2008-2009 
school year or to understand the changes in the budget made after the 
school year began. DCPS officials told us the budget planning process 
for the 2010-2011 school year involved stakeholders extensively. In 
particular, DCPS invited the public to a preliminary budget meeting and 
also provided training on the budget process to some key stakeholders, 
such as school principals and community members. 

Lack of stakeholder involvement in such key decisions led stakeholders, 
including the D.C. Council and parents groups, to voice concerns that 
DCPS was not operating in a transparent manner or obtaining input from 
stakeholders with experience relevant to the District's education 
system. Further, these stakeholders have questioned whether the impact 
of reform efforts will be compromised because of restricted stakeholder 
involvement. Stakeholders from other urban school districts we visited 
told us a lack of stakeholder involvement leads to less transparency as 
key decisions are made without public knowledge or discourse. In 
addition, the lack of stakeholder involvement can result in an erosion 
of support for ongoing reform efforts and poor decisions. For example, 
officials in Chicago and Boston said public stakeholder involvement was 
critical to community support for various initiatives, such as 
decisions on which schools to close. Officials and stakeholders in New 
York cited lack of stakeholder involvement in decisions that were 
eventually reversed or revised. For example, changes made to school bus 
routes without consulting parents meant several route changes were 
later reversed because they proved to be unworkable. 

DCPS and the State Superintendent's Office Have Taken Steps to Improve 
Accountability and Performance, and DCPS Has Yet to Align Key Aspects 
of Its Performance Management System to Organizational Goals: 

DCPS and the state superintendent's office have taken steps to improve 
accountability and performance of their offices. For example, both 
offices have started implementation of new individual employee 
performance management systems. While DCPS has taken steps to improve 
accountability and link its individual performance management system to 
organizational goals, it has not completed this process or used the 
results of surveys to improve central office operations. 

Both DCPS and the State Superintendent's Office Developed and 
Implemented a Performance Management System, and DCPS Has Not Yet 
Aligned Key Aspects of the System to Organizational Goals: 

To increase accountability of its central office, DCPS developed an 
accountability system and an individual performance management system 
for central office departments and employees. The central office, which 
is responsible for providing academic and nonacademic supports[Footnote 
47] to DCPS, had operated without such accountability systems prior to 
the recent reform efforts. For example, previously, performance 
evaluations were not conducted for most DCPS staff. As a result, 
central office employees were not held accountable for the quality of 
services they provided to support schools. 

To improve accountability for central office departments, DCPS 
developed departmental scorecards, as a part of its performance 
management system, to identify and assess performance expectations for 
each department.[Footnote 48] For example, the scorecard for the Office 
of Data and Accountability includes measures such as the number of 
users of the primary student data system. According to a DCPS official, 
these scorecards are discussed at weekly accountability 
meetings[Footnote 49] with the Chancellor to hold senior-level managers 
accountable for meeting performance expectations. For example, at the 
accountability meeting we attended, DCPS officials from the Office of 
Data and Accountability used scorecards to discuss their progress with 
collecting attendance data and setting up processes to strengthen the 
collection of these data. According to DCPS officials, some 
departmental leaders have established similar accountability meetings 
with their staff, although these are not required. 

In January 2008, DCPS implemented a new performance management system 
for employees. Performance management systems for employees are 
generally used to set individual expectations, rate and reward 
individual performance, and plan work.[Footnote 50] DCPS developed its 
new performance management system in an effort to improve support 
services to the schools by improving the accountability and performance 
of central office employees. In particular, in past school years, 
teachers complained about not getting paid on time and beginning the 
school year with inadequate supplies. DCPS's performance management 
system was put in place, in part, to improve these functions in the 
central office. 

While DCPS developed and instituted a new performance management 
system, it did not fully align individual performance expectations and 
evaluations to organizational goals, which GAO has identified as a key 
practice of effective individual performance management systems. 
[Footnote 51] For example, while DCPS took important steps in 
developing and implementing its system, such as training department 
managers to set expectations and give feedback to employees, DCPS has 
not yet established a uniform policy for setting expectations. Further, 
DCPS has not yet instituted a system to track how and when such 
expectations are set. Instead, individual managers established 
processes specific to their office or department and, as a result, DCPS 
could not ensure that individual performance expectations were aligned 
to organizational goals as outlined in the DCPS 5-year strategic plan 
or in its annual performance plans.[Footnote 52] Without such 
alignment, employees may not be familiar with the overall 
organizational goals and their daily activities may not reflect these 
goals. An explicit alignment of daily activities with broader desired 
results helps individuals connect their daily activities and 
organizational goals and encourages individuals to focus on their roles 
and responsibilities to help achieve the broader goals.[Footnote 53] In 
addition, as we previously reported,[Footnote 54] DCPS developed 
individual performance evaluations in December 2007 as a part of its 
performance management system in order to assess central office 
employees' performance. Such individual performance evaluations are 
used to rate central office employees on several core competencies 
twice a year. For example, employees are rated on how well they 
demonstrate a commitment to providing high-quality and timely customer 
service to both external and internal customers of District schools. 
Prior to our March 2008 testimony, DCPS officials told us that they 
intended to align the performance management system with organizational 
goals by January 2009, and DCPS has taken some steps to improve 
alignment. For example, DCPS officials told us they had better aligned 
their departmental scorecards to their 2009 annual performance plan. 
However, DCPS has not yet explicitly linked employee performance 
evaluations to the agency's overall goals. DCPS officials told us they 
plan to link the individual performance evaluations with organizational 
goals in the summer of 2009 to ensure greater accountability in 
supporting schools. 

The state superintendent's office also implemented a new performance 
management system, effective October 2008, to hold its employees 
accountable and improve the office's performance. The office is 
converting to a single electronic management system to track and 
evaluate employee performance. This new system, scheduled to be fully 
operational by December 2009, will replace the two separate systems 
that had operated on different cycles. According to an official from 
this office, the new system is uniform, user friendly, and allows for 
an easier transfer of performance information from manager to employee. 
In addition, this system links individual employee evaluations to 
overall performance goals and the office's strategic plan. Under this 
new evaluation system, each employee is given a position description, 
which includes responsibilities and duties linked to the overall goals, 
mission, and vision of the state superintendent's office. Individual 
and agency expectations are defined in an annual performance meeting 
with the employee. The office is currently training supervisory 
employees on how to use the system before its full implementation in 
December 2009. 

DCPS Surveyed Staff at Schools to Measure Satisfaction with Central 
Office Services; However, DCPS Has Not Yet Used Survey Results to 
Improve Operations: 

In November 2007, DCPS conducted a survey of employees within District 
schools, including teachers and principals, to gauge satisfaction with 
District services, including central office services during the 2007- 
2008 school year. Personnel at the schools are key stakeholders in 
improving central office functions, and their feedback is important to 
help DCPS ensure resources are targeted to the highest priorities. 
[Footnote 55] The American Institutes for Research partnered with DCPS 
to administer the online survey of teachers, principals, aides, clerks, 
counselors, project directors/coordinators, related service providers, 
and other staff. They were asked to provide feedback on numerous 
topics, including the work environment, facilities and maintenance, 
professional development, and leadership, as well as central office 
services. With regard to central office services, the survey's 
questions were focused on personnel services, budget and procurement 
services, district departments and support services, food and nutrition 
services, and technology and data. 

Of those staff that completed the survey,[Footnote 56] more were 
satisfied with their schools, such as their work environment and fellow 
staff members, than with the support system provided by the central 
office. For example, they were least satisfied with the central 
office's ability to provide goods and services in a timely manner, 
compute paychecks accurately, and allot budgeted funds when needed. In 
addition, staff who completed the survey were least satisfied with 
facilities office's responsiveness to requests for school repairs, 
saying they were not completed in a timely manner. DCPS officials told 
us the results of the survey were shared internally with different 
central office departments in 2008, and focus groups were formed within 
a month of the release of the survey results to develop specific action 
plans to address identified issues. However, DCPS officials were unable 
to provide us with specific examples of improvements made in central 
office operations as a result of the survey. Three of the eight 
principals we met with regarding the school consolidation process 
stated that they could not always access budgeted funds when needed. In 
addition, four of the eight principals noted that school repairs were 
not made in a timely manner.[Footnote 57] One principal told us his 
payroll was often inaccurate, and some teachers were not always paid on 
time. DCPS officials told us another staff survey will be administered 
in spring 2009. 

Conclusions: 

The challenge of reforming DCPS is daunting. NCLBA requires 100 percent 
proficiency by 2014 and the District's students scored significantly 
lower than the District's own proficiency targets for 2008 and below 
students in most other urban districts. In the past, support for reform 
efforts has waned as student achievement did not improve, as buildings 
deteriorated, and as new superintendents were ushered in every few 
years to address these problems. 

The need for rapid reform and results is acute and the District's Mayor 
and his education team have taken bold steps--such as implementing 
various classroom-based initiatives, reorganizing schools, and 
replacing teachers and principals--to improve the learning environment 
of the District's students and ultimately increase student achievement. 
However, DCPS lacks certain planning processes, such as communicating 
information to stakeholders in a timely manner and incorporating 
stakeholder feedback at key junctures, which would allow for a more 
transparent process. In addition, DCPS did not gauge its internal 
capacity prior to implementing certain key initiatives, which, if 
addressed in the future, could help ensure the sustainability of 
initiatives. Without these planning processes, an organization risks 
having to revamp initiatives, leading to delays and compromising the 
implementation of timely, critical work. While having these planning 
processes in place will not eliminate all implementation issues, it 
will help to identify and mitigate risks associated with implementing 
bold initiatives and identify needed changes in the early stages of the 
initiative. Furthermore, a lack of these planning processes can result 
in decisions that are made on an ad hoc basis with resources unevenly 
distributed as was the case with the District's new staffing model. 
Ultimately, the lack of such processes while planning and implementing 
initiatives has impeded the success of some of DCPS's initiatives and 
could impede the District's continued success and progress in reforming 
its school system. 

Stakeholder consultation in planning and implementation efforts can 
help create a basic understanding of the competing demands that 
confront most agencies and the limited resources available to them. 
Stakeholders can then share their expertise and experience, and views 
on how these demands and resources can be balanced. Continuing to 
operate without a more formal mechanism--other than community forums or 
e-mails--for stakeholder involvement could diminish support for the 
reform efforts, undermine their sustainability, and ultimately 
compromise the potential gains in student achievement. As more 
initiatives are developed, the need to balance the expediency of the 
reform efforts with measures to increase sustainability, such as 
stakeholder involvement, is critical. 

In addition, since the Reform Act, the District has taken several steps 
to improve central office operations, such as providing more 
accountability at the departmental level and implementing a new 
individual performance management system. However, DCPS has not taken 
steps to align its performance management system, including its 
individual performance evaluations, to its organizational goals, which 
could result in a disparity between employees' daily activities and 
services needed to support schools. By ensuring that employees are 
familiar with the organizational goals and that their daily activities 
reflect these goals, DCPS could improve central office accountability 
and support to schools. 

Recommendations to the Mayor of the District of Columbia: 

To help ensure the transparency, success, and sustainability of the 
District's transformation of its public school system, we recommend 
that the Mayor direct DCPS to establish planning processes that include 
mechanisms to evaluate its internal capacity and communicate 
information to stakeholders and, when appropriate, incorporate their 
views. 

To strengthen the new individual performance management system and 
ensure greater accountability of central office employees in their role 
supporting schools, we recommend that the Mayor direct DCPS to link 
individual performance evaluations to the agency's overall goals. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to DCPS, the Deputy Mayor of 
Education, and to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education 
for review and comment. These offices provided written comments on a 
draft of this report, which are reproduced in appendix I. They also 
provided technical comments, which we incorporated when appropriate. 
All three entities concurred with our recommendations. However, they 
expressed concern with the way in which we evaluated their reform 
efforts and the overall tone of the draft report. 

Specifically, District officials stated that we did not measure DCPS's 
progress in terms of the condition of the school system prior to the 
reform efforts, but instead measured progress in terms of whether the 
ultimate goals of the reform efforts had been met. We disagree. We did 
not measure DCPS's progress against "ultimate goals." As is now 
reflected in the paragraph describing our approach to this study, we 
measured the progress of ongoing reform efforts by comparing DCPS's 
progress to its own time frames for implementing various initiatives. 
In conducting our review, we spoke with numerous DCPS officials and 
repeatedly asked for documents and time frames in order to objectively 
gauge the District's progress. In some cases, DCPS officials did not 
provide us with such documentation; however, we made a concerted effort 
to accurately identify current initiatives and related time frames. In 
addition, we measured completed initiatives against recognized 
standards. For example, we determined whether or not the DCPS and the 
state-level strategic plans contained elements that GAO has identified 
as key to an effective plan. 

In addition, we described the conditions that existed prior to the 
reform efforts in order to provide context to the steps DCPS has taken. 
For example, we noted that prior to the reform efforts, DCPS's teacher 
training was not systematic or aligned with the school district's goals 
and that DCPS is now offering on-site professional development to 
improve teacher skills. We also cited the lack of individual 
performance evaluations for central office employees prior to the 
reform efforts that DCPS has made to improve in this area. Furthermore, 
we made every effort to provide balance and objectivity in our 
findings. For example, some stakeholders, such as parents groups, union 
representatives, and the D.C. Council, told us that DCPS made key 
decisions without their involvement. We revisited this issue with DCPS 
officials and described several of their efforts to improve stakeholder 
involvement in the initial draft of our report. 

We visited four urban school districts with mayoral governance and 
conducted in-depth interviews to help us better understand the 
magnitude of the challenges that officials encountered while trying to 
reform their school systems. We also spoke with superintendents and 
officials from mayors' offices in these districts about the key lessons 
they learned as they reformed their school systems, including the risks 
associated with not having systematic stakeholder involvement. 

Finally, the District's education offices stated in their response that 
we characterized the state superintendent's efforts as positive and 
those of DCPS more negatively. While drafting this report, we 
intentionally avoided any comparison between DCPS and the state 
superintendent's office, as their tasks and challenges are dissimilar. 
After reviewing our draft, DCPS provided us with more information and 
documentation regarding efforts to involve stakeholders in the 
development of the October 2008 draft of the DCPS strategic plan and 
steps taken to introduce alignment of accountability measures to 
organizational goals. We made changes to our report to reflect the 
updated information. 

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents 
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days 
after its issue date. At that time, we will send copies of this report 
to the D.C. Mayor's Office, relevant congressional committees, and 
other interested parties. Copies will also be made available upon 
request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on 
GAO's Web site [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff members have any questions about this report, 
please contact me at (202) 512-7215 or ashbyc@gao.gov. Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report 
are listed in appendix II. 

Signed by: 

Cornelia M. Ashby, Director: 
Education, Workforce and Income Security Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Comments from the D.C. Mayor's Office and District 
Education Offices: 

Government Of The District Of Columbia: 

June 11, 2009: 

Cornelia M. Ashby: 
Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues: 
United States Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, N.W., room 5940: 
Washington. DC 20548 

Subject: "District of Columbia Public Schools" June 2009 Report to the 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal 
Workforce, and the District of Columbia, Committee on Homeland Security 
and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate. 

Dear Ms. Ashby, 

We write in response to the draft June 2009 GAO report on the progress 
of the District of Columbia Public Schools reform efforts. Thank you 
for the opportunity to review the draft report and provide feedback to 
you and your team. We believe we have made substantial progress with 
our reform efforts, but agree that there is still much work to be done. 
We have significant concerns. however, with the tone of the draft 
report and the approach used to reach the conclusions presented. and 
hope that these are addressed through a revised final report. 

The report represents the conclusion of nearly two years of ongoing 
evaluation and analysis by the GAO of District education reform efforts 
since the District established a new school governance model that 
placed control of the school system under the authority of the Mayor. 
Overall, we agree with the substance of the two major recommendations 
from the report: 1) that DCPS establish planning processes that include 
evaluating internal capacity and incorporating stakeholders at key 
junctures and 2) that DCPS link individual performance evaluations to 
the agency's goals to strengthen accountability for DCPS' central 
office. As we have shared with the GAO team, the Mayor has made 
constant evaluation, stakeholder input, and alignment of evaluations 
with objectives central components of ensuring accountability under the 
governance structure. 

We disagree strongly, however. with the overall tone of the draft 
report and the conclusions derived within specific sections. The report 
falls short of objectively conveying the context for the DCPS 
initiatives underway and of adequately capturing all of the progress 
that has been made to date. The findings presented attempt to measure 
DCPS against a fully implemented reform standard, even though the 
reform has been underway for only two years. In order to "evaluate the 
District's reform efforts". as the report describes GAO's charge from 
Congress, we believe it is more appropriate and accurate to measure 
DCPS in terms of what has been accomplished since the passage of the 
Public Education Reform Act, rather than measuring the work in terns of 
whether all of the ultimate goals have been fully accomplished to date. 

The draft report does not adequately present the whole picture, and 
throughout the draft report, the section headings appear to he designed 
to include a negative finding as a requirement, even when the text 
describes areas of significant overall achievement. Moreover, in areas 
where both DCPS and the Office of the State Superintendent arc 
similarly situated, the draft report describes the progress made at 
OSSE in more balanced way by focusing on improvements planned in the 
future. rather than gaps in initial efforts. At DCPS, the discussion 
centers instead on what DCPS has not yet done. 

In finalizing the June 2009 report, we ask that the GAO attempt to 
address the issues outlined above in order to present a clearer, more 
balanced assessment of where we are in our reforms. We appreciate the 
opportunity to provide this feedback, and have provided your staff with 
a list of technical corrections and improvements. We strongly believe 
in evaluation and assessment, and we want to be held accountable to the 
public for our work. We hope that the GAO report can he used as a tool 
not only for Congress. but the public at large, to measure our success. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Victor Reinoso: 
Deputy Mayor for Education: 

Signed by: 

Michelle Rhee: 
Chancellor, DCPS: 

Signed by: 

Kerri Briggs: 
State Superintendent: 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Cornelia Ashby at (202) 512-7215 or ashbyc@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Elizabeth Morrison, Assistant 
Director; Nagla'a El-Hodiri, Analyst-in-Charge; Sheranda Campbell; Jeff 
Miller; and Vernette Shaw made significant contributions to this report 
in all aspects of the work. Susan Aschoff, Mark Bird, Timothy Case, 
Bryon Gordon, Jeffrey Heit, Janice Latimer, Jean McSween, Sandy Silzer, 
and Sarah Veale provided analytical assistance. Doreen Feldman and 
Sheila McCoy provided legal support and Lise Levie and Kimberly Siegal 
verified our findings. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

District of Columbia Public Schools: While Early Reform Efforts Tackle 
Critical Management Issues, a District-wide Strategic Education Plan 
Would Help Guide Long-Term Efforts. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-549T]. Washington, D.C.: March 14, 
2008. 

District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Additional 
Policies and Procedures Would Improve Internal Controls and Program 
Operations. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-9]. 
Washington, D.C.: November 1, 2007. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Education Should Clarify Guidance and Address 
Potential Compliance Issues for Schools in Corrective Action and 
Restructuring Status. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-1035]. Washington, D.C.: September 
5, 2007: 

Charter Schools: Oversight Practices in the District of Columbia. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-490]. Washington, D.C.: 
May 19, 2005. 

Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementing Steps to Assist Mergers and 
Organizational Transformation. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-669]. Washington, D.C.: July 2, 
2003. 

Results-Oriented Cultures: Creating a Clear Linkage between Individual 
Performance and Organizational Success. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-488]. Washington, D.C.: March 14, 
2003. 

Agencies' Strategic Plans Under GPRA: Key Questions to Facilitate 
Congressional Review (Version 1). [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-10.1.16]. Washington, D.C.: May 
1997. 

Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government Performance 
and Results Act. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-96-118]. Washington, D.C.: June 
1996. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] In this report, when we refer to D.C. public schools, we are not 
including the D.C. public charter schools. Charter schools are public 
schools that are exempt from certain regulations in exchange for 
increased accountability for improving student achievement. This report 
does not include a discussion of charter schools, which are governed in 
the District by the Public Charter School Board. 

[2] U.S. Census Bureau data show that the District's school-age 
population (ages 5-19) declined by about 5 percent from 2000 to 2007. 

[3] The D.C. Council approved the Reform Act on April 19, 2007. 
District of Columbia Laws, Act 17-38 (2007). The bill was then passed 
by Congress and signed into law by President Bush on June 1, 2007. Pub. 
L. No. 110-33. The Reform Act pertains primarily to the D.C. public 
school district, but also contains legislation relevant to the 
District's charter schools. 

[4] GAO, District of Columbia Public Schools: While Early Reform 
Efforts Tackle Critical Management Issues, a District-wide Strategic 
Education Plan Would Help Guide Long-Term Efforts, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-549T] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 14, 
2008). 

[5] The District's education offices include the District of Columbia 
Public Schools, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, 
and the District of Columbia's Department of Education. 

[6] There were 26 newly consolidated schools. We interviewed principals 
from the 8 that had received the greatest influx of students from the 
recently closed schools. 

[7] DC VOICE is a community organization whose mission is to hold both 
the public schools and the community accountable for providing high- 
quality teaching and learning for all. The Council of the Great City 
Schools is an organization that represents 67 of the largest urban 
school systems in the United States, including DCPS. Parents United for 
the D.C. Public Schools is a parent advocacy organization. 

[8] P.L. 111-5. 

[9] As of March 2009, the District had 59 public charter schools with 
enrollment for the 2008-2009 school year around 26,000. 

[10] The D.C. Committee on Public Education, Our Children, Our Future: 
Revitalizing The District of Columbia Public Schools (Washington, D.C., 
June 1989). The D.C. Committee on Public Education was formed in 1988 
to develop a long-range plan to improve the quality of education 
provided in the District. The Committee was composed of 64 individuals 
from the business and professional community, churches, universities, 
parents, and education experts who worked closely with the 
Superintendent, Mayor, Board of Education, and D.C. Council in 
developing the plan. 

[11] Council of the Great City Schools, Restoring Excellence to the 
District of Columbia Public Schools (Washington, D.C., January 2004). 

[12] The Parthenon Group, Fact-Base for DCPS Reform (Boston, London, 
San Francisco, December 2006). 

[13] The District of Columbia has 60 school districts. DCPS is the 
District's largest school district. The 59 other school districts are 
public charter schools, and often consist of just 1 school (some 
charters have multiple campuses). 

[14] In the spring, DCPS students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 
take the annual end-of-year state test, known as the District of 
Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System. In addition, DCPS administers 
the benchmark test, referred to as the D.C. Benchmark Assessment 
System, district-wide in grades 3 through 10. This test provides DCPS 
with information on how students are progressing in reading and math in 
preparation for the end-of-year state test. The District of Columbia 
Comprehensive Assessment System was first administered in 2006, prior 
to the Reform Act. 

[15] For a discussion of ways in which states can exercise flexibility, 
see Department of Education Fact Sheet: New No Child Left Behind 
Flexibility: Highly Qualified Teachers, March 2004. 

[16] For example, LeapFrog and Read 180 are both reading instruction 
programs and targeted interventions used to improve basic reading 
skills for struggling students in the elementary and secondary grade 
levels. 

[17] The 2009 state-wide test was administered to students in April 
2009 and the test results are expected to be available mid-summer 2009. 

[18] After reviewing our draft, DCPS provided us with the results of 
the vendor's analysis, but we did not independently evaluate the 
methodology or the results. 

[19] In addition to a standard funding amount, students with certain 
characteristics are funded at greater levels to account for the 
increased cost of educating them. For example, schools with students 
who are English language learners and students with disabilities are 
allocated additional funds. 

[20] This issue may have been more acute prior to closing 23 schools 
due to declining enrollment. 

[21] This core can be supplemented with other positions based on 
enrollment or to comply with laws and regulations applicable to certain 
student populations, such as students with disabilities and English 
language learners. 

[22] Under the new staffing model, a school may choose to trade a 
position offered by the new staffing model for another position based 
on its needs. For example, a school may employ an art teacher funded by 
a private entity. A principal at such a school could then trade the art 
position assigned by the staffing model for a regular classroom 
teacher. 

[23] Mary Levy, An Analysis of DCPS General Education Resources in 
Local School Budgets for FY 2009 (Washington Lawyers Committee for 
Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, December 2008). DCPS officials told us 
that they conducted their own analysis in an effort to minimize such 
differences in the future. GAO did not conduct an independent analysis 
of the per pupil allocations across schools. 

[24] In these cases, one principal cited the lack of certification for 
middle school grades and training on the student data system as 
problematic for his/her teachers. The other cited a lack of "exemplary" 
applicants for math and special education. Neither of these two 
principals reported having vacancies or poor performing teachers. 

[25] DCPS reported that in the 2007-2008 school year there were 14,257 
students attending schools in restructuring planning status. 

[26] DCPS has a total of 128 schools, but only 118 are required to meet 
federal accountability standards because these schools do not have 
students in grades tested under NCLBA, do not have enough students, or 
have a transient student population. 

[27] DCPS could not terminate these teachers due to contractual 
agreements with the teachers' union. Removal would have required a 
formal process including teacher evaluation and additional assistance 
for underperformers. See discussion on the teacher evaluation process 
later in the report. 

[28] The other half of the 160 teachers resigned from the school system 
or retired. 

[29] DCPS's primary student data system is called STARS (Student 
Tracking and Reporting System). It performs such functions as creating 
student report cards and tracking student attendance. 

[30] SLED will serve as a unified repository of school system data 
needed to improve management, reporting, instruction, trend analysis, 
and program evaluation for the District. SLED is intended to enable the 
sharing of critical information spanning a student's lifelong public 
education experience in the District from early childhood to college 
and other postsecondary education. SLED is funded in part by the U.S. 
Department of Education's Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants 
Program. Education's Institute of Education Sciences provides 
monitoring and technical assistance for the project. 

[31] Goe, Laura. The Link Between Teacher Quality and Student Outcomes: 
A Research Synthesis, National Comprehensive Center for Teacher 
Quality, 2007. Despite research consensus that teacher quality impacts 
student achievement, there is not a universal definition of what 
teacher quality is. 

[32] DCPS had about 4,200 teachers for the 2007-2008 school year and 
about 3,900 teachers for the 2008-2009 school year. 

[33] DCPS did not need to hire the same number of teachers as the 
number who left the school system after the 2007-2008 school year 
because 23 schools closed and district-wide enrollment had again 
declined by the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year. 

[34] Founded in 1990, Teach for America is a national program that 
recruits top college graduates and professionals of all academic majors 
and career interests to commit to teaching for 2 years in urban and 
rural public schools. Established in 2001, the D.C. Teaching Fellows 
recruits a range of successful professionals from noneducation fields 
to teach in DCPS. 

[35] Qualifications to become a teacher coach include having a valid 
teaching license, at least 3 years successful teaching experience (5 
years preferred), and being deemed highly qualified under NCLBA. In 
addition, teacher coaches are expected to have successful experience in 
providing staff development and exemplary presentation, communication, 
and organizational skills. 

[36] GAO, Agencies' Strategic Plans Under GPRA: Key Questions to 
Facilitate Congressional Review (Version 1), [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-GGD-10.1.16] (Washington, D.C.: May 
1997). 

[37] The state superintendent's office serves as a state education 
agency for DCPS and 59 public charter schools, as of March 2009. 

[38] GAO, 21st Century Challenges: Transforming Government to Meet 
Current and Emerging Challenges, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-830T] (Washington, D.C.: July 13, 
2005). 

[39] The Master Education Plan dated February 2006 was developed and 
released by the Superintendent of D.C. schools and the D.C. Board of 
Education. According to the plan, there was a high degree of 
stakeholder involvement in developing the 122-page plan, including five 
community forums, three forums sponsored by the Washington Teachers' 
Union, and over 15,000 parents participating through phone surveys. 

[40] The DCPS strategic plan refers the reader to its annual 
performance plan to see certain performance targets. For example, the 
fiscal year 2009 performance plan includes projections for student 
achievement metrics--such as percentage of students who are proficient 
in math and reading for 2009, 2010, and 2011. Neither the strategic 
plan nor the annual performance plan has objective measures or 
performance targets for increasing teacher quality. 

[41] The Chancellor has said there is $200 million in private funding 
to pay for substantial increases in teacher salaries and professional 
development. 

[42] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-830T]. 

[43] In addition, DCPS officials told us they plan to establish the 
opportunity for a small group of parents to meet with DCPS officials, 
including the Chancellor, on an ongoing basis. 

[44] DCPS conducted a telephone survey and polled 500 parents to assess 
their satisfaction with their school and the school district as a 
whole. Parents were asked for feedback on such issues as school safety, 
quality of instruction, communication, and the level of parental 
engagement in the decision-making process. The student survey was a 
voluntary, written survey to assess student views about school safety, 
services, leadership (principals, teachers, and staff), and 
instructional practices. 

[45] DCPS officials told us they experienced problems with the vendor, 
such as missed deadlines and incomplete and incorrect data. They also 
told us several times during the course of our work that they were 
expecting the data; however, each time the vendor failed to deliver. 

[46] After reading the draft of our report, DCPS officials identified 
four steps they said DCPS takes to involve stakeholders in key 
decisions. We requested documentation showing that these steps had been 
in place during the 2008-2009 school year; however, DCPS did not 
provide such documentation. 

[47] Some central office employees provide academic services, such as 
planning and monitoring academic initiatives, while others work on 
nonacademic functions, such as purchasing school supplies and managing 
teacher payrolls. 

[48] Central office departments include the following departments or 
offices: Chief Academic Officer, Family and Community Engagement, 
Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Data and 
Accountability, Office of Human Capital, Office of Special Education, 
Operations, and Transformation Management Office. 

[49] The Chancellor holds weekly School Stat meetings to hold managers 
accountable for their offices' performance. School Stat is one of 
DCPS's accountability programs to track key initiatives and develop 
strategies to promote continuous improvement. 

[50] Effective performance management systems can be used strategically 
to drive internal change, achieve desired results, and provide 
continuity during transitions. GAO, Results-Oriented Cultures: Creating 
a Clear Linkage between Individual Performance and Organizational 
Success, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-488] 
(Washington, D.C: Mar. 14, 2003). 

[51] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-488]. GAO 
identified other key practices for effective individual performance 
management systems. However, we focused on the two practices that link 
employee performance to the broader organizational goals. 

[52] The Mayor's office requires education offices to develop and 
follow annual performance plans as another component of the 
accountability process. These performance plans include broad 
objectives, such as ensuring that schools provide a consistent 
foundation in academics, retaining the most highly effective and 
compensated educators, and partnering with families and the community. 

[53] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-488]. 

[54] In our March 2008 testimony, we reported that DCPS officials told 
us that employee evaluations do not yet link to their offices' 
performance goals because they had limited time to implement the new 
performance system. However, officials stated that they planned to 
develop the linkages over the next year. GAO-08-549T. 

[55] GAO, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government 
Performance and Results Act, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-96-118] (Washington, D.C.: June 
1996). 

[56] A total of 3,285 staff completed the survey, yielding an overall 
response rate of 55 percent. 

[57] We met with eight principals during our review that received 
students from closing schools to discuss DCPS's consolidation process. 

[End of section] 

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