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First-Of-Its-Kind Project Will Survey Districts and Charter Management Organizations

Charter School Capital

March 4, 2020


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Editor’s Note: This article about the RAND Corporation’s new school district and CMO surveys was written by Linda Jacobson. It was originally published here by Education Dive on January 10, 2020.

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RAND Corp project to survey districts, charter groups

Dive Brief:

  • Building on its American Educator Panels, which have provided a glimpse into teachers’ and school leaders’ thoughts on issues such as school discipline and instructional methods, the RAND Corporation is launching a new set of surveys for school districts and charter management organizations.
  • With $4.8 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the research organization will work with the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, Chiefs for Change and Kitamba, a consulting firm, to develop and administer the American School District Panel over a three-year period. According to a press release, the project will be “the first nationally representative, longitudinal panel of school districts” in the U.S.
  • The surveys will collect feedback from districts and CMOs on issues such as procurement, professional development and services for students with disabilities. RAND is also forming an advisory board made up of district and CMO leaders to guide the project.

Dive Insight:

Results from the surveys will provide another source of comparison between traditional districts and CMOs on current educational issues and trends. While the researchers won’t survey individual charter schools, they will collect data from CMOs.

One early topic is expected to be how districts and CMOs “identify, select and implement curricula as well as the supports they provide for school-level curriculum implementation,” said Laura Hamilton, who directs RAND’s Center for Social and Emotional Learning Research and co-directs the AEP program.

An initial study will be released this fall, and the first round of results from the survey is expected next winter or spring. In a separate press release, CRPE said the goal of the project is “to understand how districts help school leaders innovate and solve problems, and to learn what barriers they face.” Qualitative studies will also dig into how politics and implementation issues affect efforts to improve districts.

In addition to releasing the reports, the research team will hold “State of the District” events to discuss findings. “School systems have a critical role to play in making sure students, especially the most vulnerable, get the educational opportunities they so urgently need,” said Robin Lake, the director of CRPE.

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