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New ERS Report on Duval County Public Schools

After one year of in-depth resource analysis, ERS released today our report on Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), Realigning Resources for District Success. The report provides a blueprint for the district, presenting in detail significant opportunities where the district can improve student outcomes despite dire budget realities through better alignment of resources to priorities. DCPS, in partnership with Jacksonville Public Education Fund, initiated the process with ERS back in the fall of 2010. We expect and hope the report will inform and support DCPS’s efforts to improve.

We also urge all district leaders to review the Duval story. We expect most will find some familiar challenges presented for the Duval context and should gain insight from the explanations and recommendations provided. For example, the report explores improving teaching effectiveness through implementing a comprehensive evaluation system and building teacher teams. How does a district implement this kind of system and how will it inform teacher placement, professional development, and hiring? In addition there are guidelines for how to increase individual attention for students who need it most and strategies for implementing a successful district strategy for school turnaround.

“Our objective was to show how DCPS, even with its low funding level, can reduce costs, rethink existing resource use, and make limited new investments to improve teaching effectiveness and student performance overall,” says ERS Director Jonathan Travers. The report provides a plethora of findings, including:

  • DCPS is one of the lowest funded districts ERS has studied. Compared with peer districts, it spends the lowest share of its budget on central management functions and most on instruction.
  • DCPS should focus on improving teacher effectiveness by comprehensively implementing the new evaluation system and bringing together pieces of DCPS’s current >$100 million investment in instructional support to strengthen teaching teams.
  • The school district must expand and improve individualized support for highest-need students.
  • DCPS must change strategy to attract and develop top talent and better support students’ readiness to learn in turnaround schools.
  • Through school consolidation the district can free up some of the $26 million invested in smaller school size to increase the funding it can allocate based on prioritized need.

“This study provided the district with valuable insights on how to take existing money and focus on more efficiency to improve the outcomes for our students,” said DCPS’s Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals. “Benchmarking our district against other large urban districts provided a critical analysis of our funding, staffing levels, planning and instructional time.”

You can download a copy of the report here.

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