The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Hosts Annual Performance Management Summit

– Education leaders from across the country come together to discuss trends, best practices and case studies –

AUSTIN, Texas – Earlier this month, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation hosted education leaders from 23 districts and 18 charter management organizations (CMO) across the country, including leaders from some of the largest cities in the U.S. — such as New York, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, Oakland and Chicago — for its annual Performance Management Summit.

Performance management is an approach that improves how information is used in a district or CMO and the classroom so teachers and administrators can take action based on what’s working and what’s not working to influence student achievement and graduation rates. Based on its work with some of the largest urban school districts in the nation, the Dell family foundation has witnessed performance management in action. Teachers and principals now have at their fingertips a user-friendly, flexible “dashboard” view of information that can spotlight a student, a subject, a class, a grade or even the entire district. This insight has helped administrators and teachers predict performance levels and graduation rates and enabled teachers to spend more time focusing on the critical one-on-one student and teacher relationship, changing the course of students at risk.

In her welcome address to summit attendees, Janet Mountain, Executive Director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, talked about real-life examples of the impact of performance management and its ability to put more personalized, detailed data and real-time information in the hands of educators and administrators. For example, she spoke about a district that, when attempting to find the root cause of a failing school, found that although overall attendance was 87 percent, it masked a more complete picture that showed through period level data, that 47 percent of its students had missed two total weeks of class in a six week timeframe. A charter management organization realized before it became a problem that growth was tearing down the impact of its individualized instruction model. The organization went on to build a world-class tool that consistently delivered high quality individualized instruction for thousands of high-need students. Another district, which implemented a student performance growth metric across the district, found that its greatest student gains were not coming from its best performing schools.

“It is not only inspiring but a great privilege to connect with the top educators in the nation to work together on very challenging, yet rewarding, issues around taking our education system to the next level,” said Mountain. “By connecting organizations that have focused on performance management for a few years with those that are just beginning to realize the value of performance management , we witnessed a rich dialogue that fostered new ideas, best practice sharing and a collective commitment to excellence.”

“Due to the extraordinary support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Prince George’s County Public Schools is moving from a ‘compliance culture’ to a true ‘performance culture’ with the development and implementation of its performance management system,” said Superintendent Dr. John E. Deasy. “We are becoming a national model for large urban school systems, where all participants continuously assess and improve their contribution to the goal of student achievement. Even early in the implementation, we are seeing dramatic results for youth.”

Throughout the two-day summit, numerous sessions and speakers presented information about how empowering classroom and central office educators with relevant student data can help inform instruction and increase overall student performance. Sessions were led by attendees who used their performance management experiences as case studies for best practices and key learnings.

“It’s exciting to learn and grow from so many people addressing the same set of challenges,” said Mike Feinberg, Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) Co-Founder, when discussing the importance of meeting with other education leaders incorporating performance management into their school districts and charter programs across the country. “It’s encouraging to know that as a larger national team there is no need to recreate the wheel in our home cities.”

Additionally, the summit examined performance management trends seen across the country. These trends included:

  • The importance of measuring school performance not only by student achievement measures but instead by student growth and achievement measures
  • Strategies to overcome challenges such as gaining teacher and principal buy-in that is necessary to begin a performance management system
  • How to move from assessing student growth and performance to impacting student growth and performance through performance management

“Performance management is a key practice in our work to achieve excellence and equity for all students,” said conference presenter and attendee, Dr. Pat Forgione, Superintendent of the Austin Independent School District. “By helping ensure that we are practicing what we preach in every classroom every day, it helps us realize our vision of social justice across our system