Center for American Progress

ADVISORY: Turning Around Low-Performing Schools: Local Strategies in Action
Press Advisory

ADVISORY: Turning Around Low-Performing Schools: Local Strategies in Action

Featured Panelists:
Dr. Jack D. Dale, Superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools
Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools
Dr. Jerry D. Weast, Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools

Moderated by:
Elena Rocha, Senior Education Analyst, Center for American

As the nation’s students begin another school year, advocates, administrators, and lawmakers are focusing on school quality, accountability, and school improvement. Sixteen percent of all schools and 20 percent of all districts did not make adequate yearly progress under the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. As the rigor of education and student expectations rise, greater attention is rightfully focused on low-performing schools and districts. Urban, rural, and suburban districts across the country are developing and strengthening strategies and interventions to support these schools and the students they serve. Several districts have instituted innovative and non-incremental approaches to education reform, like expanding learning time, and are seeing positive results.

Please join us for a discussion with D.C.-area public school leaders on their strategies to turn around low-performing schools and for the release of a new Center for American Progress paper on how expanded learning time strategies are being employed across the country to support student learning and close academic achievement gaps.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Program: 3:00pm to 4:30pm Admission is free.

Center for American Progress 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor Washington, DC 20005 Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

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For more information, please call 202.741.6246.


Dr. Jack D. Dale joined Fairfax County Public Schools, the nation’s 12th largest school system, as Superintendent on July 1, 2004. From 1996 to 2004, Dr. Dale served as Superintendent for Frederick County Public Schools. During his fourth year as Superintendent, he was named Maryland’s Superintendent of the Year. Previously, Dr. Dale was the Associate Superintendent for School Administration, Curriculum, and Instruction of the Edmonds School District in Edmonds, Washington. He also served as Director of Personnel in the Everett Washington School District; Assistant to the Director at the Center for the Assessment of Administrative Performance at the University of Washington; Director of School Instructional Services; Assistant Principal; and mathematics teacher in the Bellevue School District, in Washington state.

Born in Seattle, Dr. Dale holds a B.A. in mathematics and education; a Master’s in educational administration; and a Doctorate in education, with an emphasis on effective school leadership and organizational change, from the University of Washington. Dr. Dale is a member of the American Association of School Administrators; the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; the National School Board Association; and serves on other local professional associations and boards. He is co-editor and author of the book Creating Successful School Systems and has conducted workshops on teacher compensation systems for No Child Left Behind initiatives. He has also published papers in The Executive Educator, International Journal of Education Reform, American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) Research Brief, and SIRS Management Information.

Michelle Rhee was named Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools in June 2007. Most recently, she served as Chief Executive Officer and President of The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a non-profit organization that partners with school districts, state departments of education and other educational entities to enhance their capacity to recruit, select, train, and support outstanding new teachers for difficult-to-staff schools. Since Ms. Rhee founded the organization in 1997, The New Teacher Project has launched more than 40 programs in 20 states and attracted and prepared over 10,000 new, high-quality teachers. Under her leadership, TNTP grew into a national organization that has worked to recruit more than 23,000 new teachers for hard-to-staff public schools across the country.

Beginning her career as a teacher in Baltimore, she and her organization have been a steady presence in DCPS since September 2000, and she has demonstrated a commitment to recruiting and supporting great teachers for this city. Rhee’s commitment to excellence in education began in 1992, when she started her teaching career at Harlem Park Community School in Baltimore as a part of the Teach for America program. Her outstanding success in the classroom earned her acclaim on Good Morning America and The Home Show, as well as in the Wall Street Journal and the Hartford Courant. Specifically, Rhee worked with 2nd and 3rd graders and saw dramatic increases in the performance of her students. Rhee holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dr. Jerry D. Weast is Superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools, the largest and most diverse school system in Maryland and the 16th largest district in the nation. Appointed to the position in 1999 and reappointed in 2003 and 2007, Dr. Weast is directing an ambitious comprehensive reform effort designed to raise academic standards and narrow the achievement gap for nearly 140,000 students. The managerial excellence he has overseen led to Montgomery County Public Schools’ receipt of the U.S. Senate/Maryland Productivity Award in 2005. In addition, the school system was a 2006 Finalist for a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

In recognition of his innovative leadership in early childhood education, professional development, school accountability, and parent involvement, Dr. Weast was named the Maryland Superintendent of the Year in 2003 and was one of the final four candidates for consideration as the National Superintendent of the Year. He is one of a few superintendents to have won the state superintendent of the year award in two different states. Dr. Weast has served as superintendent for more than 30 years, overseeing eight school districts in five states. He has been in public education since 1969 and also has been a clinical professor and instructor at several universities. He received his Ed.D. from Oklahoma State University and undergraduate and graduate degrees from Pittsburg State University.

Elena Rocha is a Senior Education Analyst at the Center for American Progress and has been instrumental in the development of the Center’s education agenda to close academic achievement gaps and improve the quality of public education. Her work focuses on the education of low-income and minority children, standards-based education reform, the expansion of learning time, and early childhood education. Elena served as a principle partner in the Center’s work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to develop “Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness.” She frequently travels with the Chamber to address an array of audiences on the performance of their state’s education system. Elena also played a primary role in development of “Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer: A Progressive Education Agenda for a Stronger Nation,” the final report of the Center’s Renewing Our Schools, Securing Our Future National Task Force on Public Education.

Elena holds a Master’s degree in Public Service and Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Mexican-American Studies from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Center, Elena held positions with KEI Pearson, Centro Alameda, Inc., and the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE).