NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED532896
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jun
Pages: 35
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Baltimore and the Portfolio School District Strategy. Portfolio School Districts Project
Yatsko, Sarah
Center on Reinventing Public Education
In November 2010, Baltimore's Fund for Education Excellence and the Annie E. Casey Foundation approached the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and requested a case study of the implementation of Baltimore City Public Schools' (City Schools) portfolio strategy. These local foundations were interested in understanding how the district reform work, spearheaded by schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso, aligned with CRPE's definition of the portfolio strategy. Through prior extensive field research, CRPE had a deep understanding of the implementation of the portfolio strategy in districts across the country, including those in Chicago, Denver, Hartford, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, D.C. The foundations were interested in learning how Baltimore's work compared to the approaches taken in these other districts. Under CEO Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Public Schools has boldly embraced several components of the portfolio strategy. Baltimore should be considered a national example of a district that encourages and supports a robust diversity of school types and providers. District messaging to the community via its "Great Schools, Great Kids" campaign as well as its "Expanding Great Options" policy make it clear that high-quality schools are valued and that children are not to blame if they fail. The introduction of a higher level of accountability to schools via student-based budgeting and other policy levers has helped fuel a dramatic shift in district and school culture. The district has also aggressively closed failing schools, engaged parents and community organizations (including by encouraging their input on new models of schools), spread principal autonomy to all schools, introduced pupil-based funding, and expanded citywide choice to middle school students. This report concludes with detailed recommendations covering three policy areas--school closure, autonomy, and accountability--that are believed to be critical for City Schools if it hopes to more fully adopt a portfolio strategy. In brief, these recommendations include: (1) School closure--(a) Develop a clear set of accountability metrics that drive school closure and charter revocation or non-renewal decisions; (b) Consistently and regularly communicate to schools and to the community how the district makes closure decisions; (c) Improve the timing of school closure announcements so that children in a school slated for closure can participate in the choice process; (d) Ensure enough high-quality seats to satisfy student need; (2) Autonomy--(a) Keep consistent all messaging from all district offices regarding school-level autonomy; and (3) Accountability--(a) Better define and communicate expectations for schools; (b) Consider accountability systems that are outcome-focused and are open to any instructional methods provided they produce student achievement growth. While there are other presenting challenges, these three are tightly interwoven, and progress in resolving them would move the district dramatically ahead in its efforts to ensure a high-quality education for all of its students, as well as maintain its national reputation for embracing a bold and, to date, highly successful reform strategy. (Contains 1 table, 1 figure and 7 footnotes.) [Additional funding for this paper was provided by Baltimore's Fund for Education Excellence.]
Center on Reinventing Public Education. University of Washington Bothell Box 358200, Seattle, WA 98195. Tel: 206-685-2214; Fax: 206-221-7402; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Authoring Institution: University of Washington, Center on Reinventing Public Education
Identifiers - Location: Maryland