Monday, March 28, 2011

Pay No Attention to the Woman Behind the Curtain

Powerful, one might say overwhelming evidence of cheating behind D.C.'s improvement in standardized test scores under Michelle Rhee.
McGraw-Hill's practice is to flag only the most extreme examples of erasures. To be flagged, a classroom had to have so many wrong-to-right erasures that the average for each student was 4 standard deviations higher than the average for all D.C. students in that grade on that test. In layman's terms, that means a classroom corrected its answers so much more often than the rest of the district that it could have occurred roughly one in 30,000 times by chance. D.C. classrooms corrected answers much more often.

In 2008, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) — the D.C. equivalent of a state education department –– asked McGraw-Hill to do erasure analysis in part because some schools registered high percentage point gains in proficiency rates on the April 2008 tests.

Among the 96 schools that were then flagged for wrong-to-right erasures were eight of the 10 campuses where Rhee handed out so-called TEAM awards "to recognize, reward and retain high-performing educators and support staff," as the district's website says. Noyes was one of these.
When questioned about the evidence of cheating and her administration's apparent indifference to the issue and disinterest in conducting a meaningful investigation?
When reached by telephone, Rhee said she is no longer the chancellor and declined to comment further.
What about the current D.C. administration?
D.C. officials declined to let USA TODAY visit schools or talk to principals, including Adell Cothorne, the principal who succeeded Ryan at Noyes for the 2010-11 school year.
Typical of government, and unfortunately it increasingly appears to also be typical of Rhee, the taking of responsibility and the acceptance of consequences for ineptitude are important for others but not for themselves. Self-adulation based upon exaggerated or even false claims of accomplishment, on the other hand, are par for the course.

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