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June 29, 2007
Contact: Deborah Baum
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Urban Education Policy
Summer Institute to Study Accountability, Reform in Urban Schools

Teams of teachers and administrators from the Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Providence school systems will gather at Brown University this summer to learn how to effectively use classroom data and test scores to guide instructional policy and student achievement. Brown’s Urban Education Policy Program will host the weeklong inaugural Institute on Data-Driven Decision Making in Urban School Systems.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University’s Urban Education Policy Program will host the inaugural Brown Summer Institute on Data-Driven Decision Making in Urban School Systems from Monday, July 9, through Friday, July 13, 2007, for teams of teachers and administrators from the Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Providence school systems. The program is sponsored by a $250,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation.

Since implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002 and other accountability initiatives in education, public school teachers, policy-makers, and administrators have been inundated with data on student demographics and achievement. They are faced with the challenge of how to collect, analyze, and report this data accurately and then use it to guide progress in student achievement and school performance. This practice is known as “data-driven decision making.”

“Interpreting student data requires a vibrant collaboration between teachers and policy-makers in order to result in highly effective changes for schools,” said Kenneth Wong, The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor in Education Policy and director of the Urban Education Policy Program at Brown. “The Summer Institute will not only help participants improve their analytic skills, but also strengthen networks within and between these districts, which will catalyze student achievement at the classroom, school and district levels.”

Despite the variation in size, the Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Providence school districts face a similar set of accountability challenges, according to institute organizers. All four districts are making extensive efforts to improve teacher quality and narrow the achievement gap; they are faced with external competition from charter schools and choice-based initiatives; and they have well-organized teachers’ unions, whose leaders are “playing a critical role in shaping the new collective bargaining agreements that will begin next summer.”

Approximately 15 people from each of the four districts will attend the Summer Institute, including teachers, principals and central office administrators. They will work with national experts on developing their data analysis skills and focus on best practices from practitioners and researchers in other urban settings. Presenters include, Deborah Lindsay, director of research assessment in Milwaukee Public Schools; Rob Meyer, director of the Center on Value-Added Research in Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; S. Paul Reville, director of the Renner Center at Harvard’s School of Education; Ron Houser, manager of the Growth Research Database at the Northwest Evaluation Association; and charter school leader Beth Purvis.

The Institute will also provide ongoing support for participants during the academic year by creating an online message board, allowing them to communicate regarding professional development issues and data analysis. Reports from questionnaires, forums and the discussion board will be published and disseminated to the four districts, the Joyce Foundation, and to future participants of the Summer Institute.

The Urban Education Policy Program

Launched in 2006, the Urban Education Policy Program at Brown University is a 12-month program dedicated to the study of policy analysis, planning, and development in urban public education. The tightly focused academic curriculum, integrated with a nine-month internship, is designed to impart a set of core skills and competencies that are necessary for successful careers in urban education policy. The UEP program also provides a solid foundation for those anticipating advanced study in areas related to urban education policy.

The Joyce Foundation

Based in Chicago, with assets of $935 million, the Joyce Foundation supports efforts to close the achievement gaps that separate low-income and minority children from their peers by improving the quality of teachers they encounter in school, expanding their access to educational opportunities in early childhood, and exploring such innovations as small schools and charter schools. For more information, visit

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