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District of Columbia Public Schools

District Partner 2005–2007; 2011-2012

ERS partnered with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to analyze the allocation of resources and to help the district use the findings to improve student performance.

"Teachers are in this 19th century model: we all get paid the same thing, and you earn more money by the number of years you put in. That doesn't make sense, and that doesn't happen in any other business but education. We have got to get out of this old way of thinking about teacher compensation, where it's about longevity. It takes radical reform to make some of the changes that are needed here and in our other urban school systems."
-Michelle Rhee, Former Chancellor of DCPS

District Facts

Staff: 7,800
Students: 44,199
Schools: 134

Work Focus


  • Spending Analysis: Examined the use of people, time, and money across the district

  • School Portfolio: Examined the costs imposed by operating schools with vacancies; also examined the opportunities for school consolidation

  • Special Education: Compared the models for serving special education students to models seen elsewhere, to identify opportunities for improvement


  • Spending Analysis: Examined spending and activities at both the system and school level and to identify ways to use resources more effectively at the school level to achieve high-quality instruction

  • School Portfolio: Analyzed per-pupil spending level across schools, adjusted for differences in student population; analyzed impact of small school size on resource use decision-making

  • Teacher Compensation: Modeled financial scenarios for ensuring long-term sustainability of IMPACT teacher compensation system

Findings and Outcomes


  • Resource use: Helped build the case for later school consolidation and special education reform


  • Teacher Compensation: Made a series of revisions to their compensation system to develop a career pathway and start the move toward differentiated roles (LIFT)

  • Budgeting: Revised their school budget development process to give schools more time to reflect on and implement design

  • Resource Use: Explored what it would take to build data systems that calculate and store school resource-use metrics centrally

  • School Design: Our work informed the school-design focused school-closure process, and an increased emphasis on teacher teaming

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