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 superintendent's central offices. GAO reviewed documentation on District initiatives, and interviewed District education officials as well as representatives from the teachers' union, community organizations, and research institutions. GAO also conducted visits to four urban school districts with mayoral governance.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Executive Office of the Mayor||1. To help ensure the transparency, success, and sustainability of the District's transformation of its public school system, the Mayor should 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.|
|Executive Office of the Mayor||2. To strengthen the new individual performance management system and ensure greater accountability of central office employees in their role supporting schools, the Mayor should direct DCPS to link individual performance evaluations to the agency's overall goals.|