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ERIC Number: ED521069
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 42
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
District of Columbia Public Schools: Defining Instructional Expectations and Aligning Accountability and Support
Curtis, Rachel
Aspen Institute
After spending decades introducing curriculum and instructional programs with little to show in the way of student achievement results, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), under the leadership of Chancellor Michelle Rhee, decided to shift its focus. Emphasizing what to teach had yielded few results. Dogged by its standing as perhaps the poorest performing urban school system in the country, DCPS decided to address head-on the issue of how to teach. The goal was straightforward: to ensure instructional excellence in every classroom. The system set out to achieve this goal by defining the elements of effective instruction, creating a common understanding of those elements system-wide, and developing an accountability and support system aligned to these elements. This work represented a profound shift for a system whose hallmarks had been teacher autonomy and isolation and the use of instructional materials as the default curriculum. This profile tells the story of DCPS's development and implementation of teaching standards, an aligned evaluation system, and a new pay-for-performance compensation system. The five critical lessons learned from DCPS's work that are explored in detail in the profile are: (1) Tap the potential of teaching standards to create common expectations and language about instruction and to focus everyone in the system on thinking about "how" teachers teach and "why"; (2) Anticipate that the hardest and most important part of a teacher performance management system is helping teachers improve their practice; (3) Consider the trade-offs associated with introducing teaching standards and an aligned evaluation system simultaneously, as compared to sequentially; (4) Understand that building a robust teacher performance management system is going to require the continuous development of organization capacity; and (5) Think strategically about organizing the system to drive the design and implementation of teaching standards, the associated evaluation system, and the related supports. While DCPS is in many ways unique, these learnings can apply to any district that is making an effort to establish standards and aligned evaluation and compensation systems. They provide important guidance, particularly for well-established bureaucratic systems, about how to approach this work in a way that drives both instructional excellence and a retooling of the central office to support instructional improvement, and ultimately student learning. Appendices include: (1) DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework 2.0; and (2) TLF Rubric (Excerpts).
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Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Aspen Institute
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia
IES Cited: ED565633; ED552484