PACE Event

The Public School Choice Initiative in the Los Angeles Unified School District

Katharine Strunk
Julie Marsh

School districts throughout the country are facing mounting accountability pressures to improve student achievement and turn around failing schools. In response to these pressures more than 20 major cities have adopted the portfolio management model of school governance.

In this seminar, Katharine Strunk and Julie Marsh will explore how portfolio management is working in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)’s Public School Choice Initiative (PSCI). The PSCI was implemented for the first time in August 2009, and has been supported by a federal Investing in Innovation (I3) grant since 2010. The PSCI allowed teams of internal and external stakeholders to compete to turn around the district's lowest performing schools, and also to operate newly constructed "relief" schools that were designated to ease overcrowding.

Drawing on data collected during their three-year study, Strunk and Marsh will first explore the implementation of the PSCI through its impact on parent engagement, school autonomy, capacity building, and strategic planning. They will also examine the effectiveness of PSCI in improving student achievement in the first years of its implementation, and provide insights from the LAUSD experience both for other districts implementing similar initiatives and for California policymakers.


  • Julie A. Marsh, Professor of Education Policy, University of Southern California
  • Katharine Strunk, Assistant Professor of Education Policy and the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education, Michigan State University