District Management Journal
Despite numerous reform efforts, the United States public education system has achieved only pockets of excellence and has been unable to demonstrate significant and steady system-wide progress. In this issue, our Spotlight article explores some of the root causes, and proposes a new solution – the Achievement Value Analysis approach – to help move our education system forward and maximize the impact of every dollar spent. Only by segmenting and identifying students by their educational needs, measuring outcomes based on the specific skills being taught, and accurately tracking the cost of individual interventions can there be certainty that resources are being directed to those efforts that have the highest effectiveness.
Also in this issue:
Interview: As the first Chief Accountability Officer at the New York City Department of Education, Jim Liebman tackled the daunting task of designing and implementing a comprehensive performance management system. In this candid interview, Liebman discusses his approach and thinking, and the various considerations that went into establishing an effective accountability system.
Case Study: School measurement and accountability systems have the potential to drive significant change in a school district, but, if a district does not have a system in place, designing and implementing one can seem daunting if not impossible. DMGroup shares results of its preliminary survey of districts that have established leading accountability systems and identifies best practices and lessons learned regarding system design and implementation. This article shares DMGroup's framework for those districts that want to get started in designing a district accountability system.
Case Study: To accelerate change and provide better support to schools, Dr. Carol Johnson, superintendent of Boston Public Schools (MA), embarked in 2012 on a dramatic reorganization of the district. After examining several models, BPS adopted a network model to provide better support to the schools by the central office, to increase accountability, and to better support district goals.
Commentary: Reflecting on Atul Gawande’s study of how one hospital achieved dramatic improvements in its outcomes for cystic fibrosis patients, Karla Brooks Baehr draws lessons about how public education can use similar approaches to improve its outcomes. Gawande describes how doctors have had to confront the bell curve of performance; Baehr notes that teachers, like doctors, do not want to settle for average, and calls for educators to learn with and from one another to tighten the bell curve and shift it to the right so that yesterday’s high performance can become tomorrow’s merely average.