Debunking the DC Miracle
Michelle Rhee supports NJ Governor Christie’s budget cuts. But her legacy in DC is the opposite: a larger budget and more bloat for the DCPS central office.
Cavuto: “I’m thinking of Chris Christie in New Jersey, and others who have actually shown an interest in you and, when he cuts close to home, or close to someone who doesn’t want their Ox gored, everything changes.”
Rhee: “It’s absolutely right. I mean when you –”
Cavuto: “So he’s going to piss some people off?”
Rhee: “He’s undoubtedly going to piss some people off. And I think he’s already done so. But the Governor is actually taking exactly the right steps. He’s delivering the hard news. He’s being very no-nonsense about it.”
Posted: 11:45AM, June 14, 2011
Guy Brandenburg, a former teacher and mathematician, who famously debunked Rhee’s Baltimore miracle claims has posted a series analyzing the latest DC standardized test scores. Once again, he thoroughly and meticulously dissects the test scores by grade, by race, and by traditional public and charter schools and persuasively debunks another Rhee faux-miracle.
Read Brandenburg’s analyses here http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/
Below are excerpts:
“–The percentages of students who score ‘Proficient’ or Advanced’ in reading are about the same as they were in the year 2008, down a couple of percentage points from their relative high in 2009. In math, the fraction of students ‘passing’ the chosen standardized test is the same as last year, but lower than it was in 2003.
So, of all the initiatives of Michelle Rhee, none have worked.
(1) Paying middle-school students to come to school? A total flop that was quietly abandoned.
(2) Paying, firing, or retaining teachers based on random fluctuations in their students’ scores? A joke, if you look at these results.
(3) Firing teachers based on whether they suck up to their principal and follow an extremely rigid teaching scenario? Ditto.
(4) Merit pay? Ditto.
–If you look at the following graphs that detail the composition and pass rates of the fourth grade class over the past four years, you will see that despite all the propaganda and endless test-preparation, neither the regular public schools under IMPACT and Value-Added Measurements, nor the charter schools, have made much progress.
This first graph shows that the percentage of all fourth-grade students in DCPS who are passing the DC-CAS is basically unchanged or down slightly after years of Rhee-form.
The drop in math and reading pass rates for 3rd grade Black DCPS students is rather alarming, in fact.
–If you base your entire reputation on the promise of increasing standardized test scores, then you should suffer the consequences if your policies don’t work as advertised.
That is what is going on in DC.
The following graph and table, which shows that under the educational “Rheeform” regime of today, DCPS third-graders are scoring worse and worse.
–in reading, about 41% of all 3rd graders in DCPS are ‘passing’ the reading portion of the DC-CAS. However, two years ago, that rate was 49%, and the year before that it was 48%. Thus, the fraction of the 3rd grade classes this year ‘successful’ at reading, as shown by the One And Only, All-Exalted, DC-CAS, whose word and numbers have such power over adults (but don’t really matter all that much to the students, frankly), has dropped by 7 or 8 percentage points, which is in my opinion, considerable amount. And it went down a bit from last year, even as Rhee, Henderson, Kamras have been firing and demoralizing hundreds of teachers by making them teach to this stupid test.
And in math (which I used to teach, though not in the 3rd grade), the decline has been even worse: by 12 percentage points, from 49% ‘passing’ to 37% ‘passing’ today.
And may I add, the current type of Deformed Education, which desires to turn it into a militarized, regimented, test prep factory for working-class and minority kids, appears to bore the HECK out of the kids, in the process. It teaches them very little that is really useful, and seems to stifle their sense of joy, wonder, and exploration. Kids don’t really get up in the morning all buzzed that they are going to take a tests. The only people who have a real stake in these tests are the adults. It is possible to keep order while giving students stupid worksheets based on flawed data in the DC-BAS, DIBELS, and so on, but is that teaching?”
Posted:7:10PM, August 4, 2011
Written by Bill Turque for the Washington Post. Read the entire article here.
“The school-by-school 2011 DC CAS data released Tuesday tell a more revealing story than the aggregate numbers reported last month. Those figures showed DCPS elementary scores remaining essentially flat, with public charter schools producing modest but notable gains.
The school-level numbers sharpen the picture. While DCPS still shows more growth across the last five years, charters produced the more encouraging results in 2011.
Forty-four of the 76 charter campuses (58 percent) tested registered improvement in at least one category (reading or math). My reading of the DCPS data shows just 47 of 123 schools (38 percent) in the same bucket. Another 42 DCPS schools lost ground in both reading and math, with ten suffering double-digit declines in the percentage of students who pass.”
Posted:6:20PM, August 4, 2011
From the Huffington Post. Read the entire article here.
“The country’s abuzz with the news and subsequent unfolding of the nation’s largest-ever public schools cheating scandal in Atlanta, as the scandal has undermined the seemingly straightforward deduction that higher standardized test scores signifies higher student, teacher and school achievement.
The discovery in Atlanta Public Schools has also led districts across the country, from schools in Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. to take a second look at their own test sheets.
But this isn’t the first time teachers have been caught in the middle of dishonest test-taking. Thanks to our friends at social action network Take Part, here’s a compilation of the five most shocking public school cheating scandals in America. …
#2 Washington, D.C.
USA Today found irregularities in DC schools’ test scores from an analysis of results between 2008 and 2010. More than 100 schools had score sheets that had an irregularly high number of erasures of wrong answers to right ones. Two teachers have been forced out since, and the U.S. Department of Education has joined the district’s follow-up investigation.”
Posted: 2:35PM, July 26, 2011
How Michelle Rhee tried to score a miracle: she gave DC teachers advance notice of what standards were and were not tested
The following guest post was submitted to us by Erich Martel.
“July 8, 2011
Today, the DC Public Schools released the initial, summary results of the April 2011 DC CAS, the standardized math and reading tests taken by students in grades 3 – 8 and 10, science tests in grades 5 and 8, and biology tests for high school students enrolled in biology.
The following article by Professor Aaron Pallas explains how the DC state office of the superintendent posts the DC CAS “operational blueprints,” so teachers in the tested grades know in advance which standards will be tested and the number of questions on each of those tested standards. Thus, by process of elimination, they know which standards can be skipped. OSSE reportedly opposed this policy, but was pressured by DCPS officials to continue the policy. The 2010 blueprints were posted in January 2010, rather than at the start of the school year as previously. That late posting may have contributed to some of the declines last year.
Although some other states post their testing blueprints, the District of Columbia may be unique in notifying teachers in advance that not all standards will be tested and which standards will be tested and, by process of elimination, which to ignore. Teachers of math and reading or English Language Arts in grades 4- 8, for whom 50% of their evaluation is based on their students’ “value-added” test results, have little motivation to teach standards that won’t be tested – even if they are critical elements of the foundation for later, more advanced concepts.”
The following article was written by Aaron Pallas for Eye on Education. Read the entire article here.
“D.C. Comprehensive assessment System (DC CAS)… fourth-grade mathematics test is intended to cover the learning standards adopted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. There are 53 standards for what fourth-graders should know in mathematics, spread across the following strands: number sense and operations; patterns, relations, and algebra; geometry; measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability. In the realm of number sense and operations, for example, fourth-graders are expected to know five different things about fractions, such as the relationships among halves, fourths, and eighths, and among thirds, sixths, and twelfths, with the ability to compare and order these fractions.
The fourth-grade DC CAS math test has 54 items on it, some of which are multiple-choice and others for which students must construct a response. … The overall assessment of how the D.C. Public Schools are doing is also heavily dependent on the performance of students on the DC CAS. If progress from year to year stalls, the package of reforms introduced by Michelle Rhee and sustained by Kaya Henderson are called into question. Conversely, if students continue to improve from one year to the next, these reforms may be judged effective. …
The DC CAS test no longer does what it is supposed to do: serve as a barometer of students’ mastery of the 53 learning standards adopted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education as what fourth-grade students are supposed to know about mathematics. The DC CAS cannot tell us what students have learned about the 17 learning standards that do not appear on the test. It is extremely unlikely that their knowledge of those 17 learning standards, which have largely been ignored for the two months leading up to the test, is as great as their knowledge of the 36 learning standards that… students have been practicing over and over again. Because teachers… obtained a document outlining which standards were to be tested, the scores on the test are inflated. They don’t tell us what students really know about all 53 learning standards.
… That document causing all of the trouble? It wasn’t obtained by subterfuge, or illicitly. The D.C. Public Schools gave it to the schools and teachers. In 2010, and again this year, the leadership of the D.C. Public Schools deliberately gave to schools and teachers an “operational blueprint” of the learning standards that would appear on the DC CAS exams in April. (In 2010, only 30 of the 53 fourth-grade math standards appeared on the DC CAS exam.) Earlier this week, ace Washington Post education reporter Bill Turque published a link to the 2011 fourth-grade math operational blueprint.
The likely consequence? Scores on the DC CAS may go up, as teachers are able to teach to the test in a very direct way. And, as we know, teaching to the test is not necessarily a bad thing if the content on the test is a representative sample of the broad array of skills and competencies it is intended to measure. But the actions of DCPS leaders undermine the validity of the DC CAS exams as measures of the full range of learning standards. The short-term benefits of rising test scores are shortchanging not only [DC school children], but everyone who has a stake in a realistic appraisal of how well the D.C. Public Schools are serving their students.
Posted: 5:32PM, July 10, 2011