Group to monitor District education

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development will lead a new research consortium on D.C. public education to shed light on the struggling system that has been resistant to several years of reform efforts.

Tentatively called D.C.-EdCORE, which stands for the D.C. Education Consortium on Research and Evaluation, the monitoring group will spearhead a series of reports outlining the state of public education in the city.

The graduate school launched efforts to build a long-term evaluation and research program last summer in response to a request from the District government to develop a sustainable way to study local schools.

After gathering input from a range of policy makers, educators and community constituents, the school is now in the process of formalizing the roles and membership of the research group.

The call for analysis comes in the wake of former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s aggressive and controversial reforms that fired more than 1,000 educators. Rhee stepped down from her position after former District Mayor Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic primary challenge to now-Mayor Vincent Gray last September.

Under a mandate of the Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007, the National Research Council – part of the National Academies – assessed the quality of public schools in D.C., releasing their findings in a March 2011 report.

The council’s report recommended five areas of focus: the quality and management of teachers and administrators; educational issues relevant to vulnerable children and youth; reforms in classroom teaching and learning; improved operations, management and facilities; and the role of family and community engagement in comprehensive school reform.

With GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer at the helm, the research initiative will seek “engagement with the many and diverse groups in the city, who will be asked to advise the consortium in setting study priorities and determining how best to communicate results.”

Though potential partners in the project have not been decided yet, Feuer said, “Key political leaders and organizations have expressed their enthusiasm for the development of the consortium.”

The consortium may also undertake special studies, such as special education or teaching science, based on priorities expressed by school authorities, parents, business leaders and other concerned citizens.

Feuer did not provide details on how the research consortium would be funded.

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