Many popular education reforms focus on improving school districts whereas others, such as charter schools, are premised on school districts being the problem rather than the solution.
On March 27, Russ Whitehurst and Matthew Chingos from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings presented findings from their new study examining the importance of school districts to student achievement. The study found that district effects on student achievement are smaller than the effects of schools and teachers but still large enough to be of practical and policy significance. For example, students in a district that is at the 70th percentile in district effectiveness will be more than 9 weeks ahead of similar students in a district at the 30th percentile of effectiveness on math and reading scores.
After Russ Whitehurst and Matthew Chingos presented their findings Michelle Rhee of Students First took to the podium to share anecdotes of her time as Chancellor of D.C.’s school district from 2007 to 2010.
Rhee and Whitehurst then went on to discuss her experiences as DCPS Chancellor, tackling questions about the role charter schools play in education reform, and what impacts poverty can have on student achievement. Rhee also reflected on how she would tackle her role as Chancellor differently if she were to do it again.