Publications and Reports

CTAC’s publications and reports focus on cutting edge issues in education and community development. The purpose of our research and evaluation studies is to inform practice and guide policy decision-making at local, state and national levels.

Change in Practice in MD-2015

Change in Practice in Maryland: SLOs and Teacher and Principal Evaluation

A new comprehensive study shows that Maryland is a national leader in implementing an educator evaluation system statewide.

CTAC and WestEd conducted this study through the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC at WestEd) to support the Maryland State Department of Education and all of Maryland’s districts.

This report examines the perceptions of frontline educators regarding the support they receive in understanding and implementing the Teacher and Principal Evaluation (TPE) system, and the use of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) to measure student growth and improve instruction. The study includes the direct input of more than 30% of Maryland’s teachers and principals.

Drawing on three years of data, findings show that TPE implementation is generating changes in practice and perception. With each year of implementation, both principals and teachers are increasingly more positive about TPE.

Recommendations focus on ways to improve the quality, consistency and manageability of implementation within and across districts in Maryland. They are intended to help further inform and strengthen Maryland’s implementation of TPE overall and the SLO component in particular, and broaden the set of supports to frontline educators in the schools.

Real Progress in Maryland

Real Progress in Maryland: SLOs and Teacher and Principal Evaluation

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is making significant strides in guiding and supporting the implementation of Student Learning Objectives as well as a teacher and principal evaluation (TPE) system statewide. This report examines frontline educators’ overall perceptions of TPE and key issues in implementation, including quality, consistency, and school, district and state support. The more experience frontline educators have with the new evaluation system, the higher their skill and comfort levels are with its implementation and the more their efforts focus on strengthening instruction. This report, which CTAC and WestEd prepared through the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC at WestEd), also includes recommendations which focus on ways to strengthen implementation within and across districts in Maryland, while reinforcing the instructional emphasis of TPE.


It’s More Than Money—Teacher Incentive Fund–Leadership for Educators’ Advanced Performance (TIF-LEAP), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

It’s More Than Money is the final evaluation of a comprehensive, performance-based system initiative in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. CTAC’s evaluation demonstrates that high-quality Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) contribute to improving teaching and bolstering student growth. Findings show statistically significant multi-year improvements in growth rates for students of teachers with SLOs compared to those in peer schools without SLOs: 12% greater growth on average in math and 13% greater growth on average in reading.

This five-year study examines the genesis, development, and implementation of the SLO approach together with the incorporation of a value-added measure approach. It provides a study in the opportunities, complexities, benefits, and challenges that arise in measuring and compensating the impact of teacher effectiveness on student growth. It is a chronicle that draws one into the promise of performance-based compensation and a cautionary tale that alerts any district starting down this path that significantly more is at stake than money alone.

RI Cover

Focus on Rhode Island: SLOs and Evaluation

This study assesses and reports on the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system in Rhode Island. In particular, the analysis explains the concerns of teachers, principals and superintendents, and examines ways to build better understanding and more effective implementation of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). The recommendations reinforce the integrity of the new evaluation system in Rhode Island, respond to needs emerging from the field, and increase the manageability of the new system.

MD Cover.v2

Spotlight on Maryland: SLOs and Teacher and Principal Evaluation

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is a national exemplar in being transparent as it rolls out and supports a new teacher and principal evaluation (TPE) system statewide. This study focuses on how frontline educators perceive the development and implementation of the TPE system, particularly the support they received in understanding and implementing Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). Through the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, CTAC and WestEd prepared this report for MSDE. The recommendations reinforce the instructional emphasis of the new TPE system and build on the foundation of support established to date by MSDE.


It’s More Than Money: Making Performance-Based Compensation Work, Commissioned by the Center for American Progress

The lesson of performance-based compensation is one of institutional change. Gaps between the goals of compensation policy and practice on the one hand, and organizational results on the other, have characteristically come from under-conceptualizing what is involved in performance-based compensation. The impact of performance-based compensation comes from anticipating the consequences of the reform for the entire district. As this CTAC report shows, performance-based compensation involves more than recognizing excellence in teaching; it should expand the system’s overall capacity to support classrooms and improve teaching quality. An effective and sustainable strategy for recruiting, retaining, and rewarding excellence in teaching will provide a fertile ground where teaching thrives as a profession and is nurtured at a greater level of excellence and scale.

Focus on Literacy - Professional Development Audit

Focus on Literacy – Professional Development Audit

This report presents the findings from CTAC’s groundbreaking audit of the effectiveness of literacy professional development provided in Duval County Public Schools (Florida). The audit examines the relationship of professional development to student achievement, teachers’ instructional practices, teachers’ perceptions of their craft and of professional development, and financial expenditures. CTAC’s evaluation shows a markedly positive relationship between teacher professional development in literacy and student growth in reading—with student test scores increasing significantly for each six hours of literacy professional development for teachers.

Catalyst for Change - Pay for Performance in Denver

Catalyst for Change: Pay for Performance in Denver Final Report

Catalyst for Change is the final summative report for the Denver Pay-for-Performance initiative that focused on developing a link between student achievement and teacher compensation, and launched a national movement in performance-based reform. This CTAC evaluation is a groundbreaking longitudinal study of impact of performance-based compensation on student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and systemic change. This study found that students whose teachers crafted high quality SLOs outperformed their peers and showed significantly greater gain on two independent measures of student achievement at all three school levels during all years under study. This study provided the research and evaluation base for Congressional approval of the Teacher Incentive Fund.

Pathway to Results - Pay for Performance in Denver

Pathway to Results: Pay for Performance in Denver

This report presents findings based on the halfway point of the performance-based compensation pilot in the Denver Public Schools. At the mid-point of this program, the initiative was very much in the critical phase of seeking to fully and fairly test the powerful concept—is performance-based compensation a viable and effective strategy for the Board of Education and the Teachers’ Association to use to accomplish their goals? This report contains CTAC’s analyses, findings, and recommendations, and provides the necessary foundation for the mid-course adjustments made to the initiative.

New Directions in Christina - Accomplishments for Children, Chal

New Directions in Christina: Accomplishments for Children, Challenges Ahead

This CTAC report shows that it is possible to increase student achievement for all student sub-groups, while also bridging the achievement gap. The Christina School District undertook system-wide reforms to address a persistent pattern of underachievement. The report reveals an unusually high level of education progress and highlights the successes gained by the district after a two-year intensive effort to improve education in their public schools. These efforts resulted in increased student achievement for all student sub-groups as measured on three major independent assessments. Moreover, African American and Hispanic students showed the greatest growth—for the first time ever in the district.


Guide for Standard Bearer Schools: Focusing on Causes to Improve Student Achievement

This CTAC guide explains the standards, tools and processes used in assisting entire school communities to identify and address the causal factors that affect student and school performance. The Standard Bearer Schools approach has been the bedrock of successful school turnaround initiatives. Using this process has increased student achievement for all subgroups in diverse urban school districts throughout the nation.

Tying Earning to Learning

Tying Earning to Learning: The Link Between Teacher Compensation and Student Learning Objectives

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) have the potential to positively impact the performance of teachers and their students. Based on CTAC’s research and national best practices, this primer analyzes the importance of SLOs and provides a step-by-step guide for successfully designing and implementing SLOs as part of compensation reform.

Myths and Realities - Impact of the State Takeover on Students a

Myths and Realities: The Impact of the State Takeover on Students and Schools in Newark

This CTAC report addresses the national need for a longitudinal study of the impact of a state takeover of a major urban district. It involves interviewing more than 200 individuals, examining survey responses from nearly 10,000 teachers, parents, students and administrators, and analyzing extensive student and school performance data. The culminating report describes the process that led to the state takeover, delineates the core elements of reform, and details strategies that states should adopt if they are contemplating school district takeovers.

Advise and Consent - A Study of Collaborative Decision-Making in

Advise and Consent: A Study of Collaborative Decision-Making in Denver

This CTAC evaluation examines the effectiveness of Collaborative Decision-Making (CDM), Denver’s strategy for site-based management and community involvement. The report analyzes and tests the correlation between school-level data, and perceptions of the school community as to the impact of CDM in its major priority areas. The recommendations provide a pathway for strengthening and using CDM as a more effective vehicle for improving educational opportunities for children.

HIV/AIDS Funding Streams and Planning Groups

HIV/AIDS Funding Streams and Planning Groups

Developed as a resource for the Houston community to address HIV/AIDS, this CTAC report provides a comparative view of programs, structures and decision-making processes that can be used as a base for guiding collaborative partnerships. This report is being used in numerous communities nationwide as a model for how to delineate planning groups, funding streams and their respective responsibilities and jurisdictions.

Parents as Partners - Findings and Recommendations

Parents as Partners

This initiative in the Seattle Public Schools focused on results for children of families living in poverty, and non-native English speaking and ethnic minority families. CTAC assessed involvement among a representative sample of parents in the 47,000-student district as well as school and district staff. CTAC then guided a train-the-trainers process to prepare a corps of culturally and linguistically diverse school staff, community organization representatives and parent instructors to train others across the district and community to assume roles as equal partners in school improvement. The initiative engaged parents and community members speaking nine languages (Amharic, Cambodian, Chinese, English, Lao, Somali, Spanish, Tigrigna, and Vietnamese).