Districts Rising

D.C. Public Schools: Turning Around Schools in the Nation’s Capital

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In less than a decade, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) has transformed from a low-achieving, dysfunctional school district into the fastest-improving urban school system in the country. What made this turnaround happen? In this brief, we describe how DCPS has adopted a talent management strategy—centered around IMPACT, its educator evaluation and support system—and a rigorous academic curriculum aligned to Common Core State Standards. The policies appear to be working—students are scoring higher on standardized tests, graduation rates are rising, and after years of declining enrollment, more families are choosing DCPS for their children.

This brief is part of the Districts Rising series. Each brief in the series tells the story of a school district and its efforts to raise student achievement and prepare students for college and career. The briefs describe the strategies that districts have employed to raise academic standards for students, improve educator effectiveness, and engage stakeholders in the design and implementation of new policies. Chad Rubalcaba was the lead author of this brief.

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