Reading some of the postings on the Washington Post website on recent articles, I am beginning to worry, because a lot of folks seem to think that those of us who voted or campaigned against Rhee and Fenty were only doing it to harm the futures of African-American schoolchildren here in DC. The rhetoric these supporters of Rhee and Fenty sounds like that coming from Tea Party types, including fact-free allegations about uninterrupted progress in the schools.
Of course, facts are stubborn things.
Here is a little table and graph I prepared by sweating it out at the OSSE-NCLB-DCPS website. This data shows the ‘pass’ rate in math and reading for all regular DCPS students from 2003 to 2010 on whichever NCLB test DCPS was purchasing that year. As you can see, there was a big drop when DCPS switched from using the SAT-9 to the DC-CAS, mostly because it took teachers a while to figure out what the test was asking students to do. As teachers got better at preparing students for the test, the scores on the DC-CAS predictably went up.
Can Michelle Rhee take credit for that? Well, I know that she will try. However, the fact is that she has implemented exactly ZERO curriculum changes since she arrived in DC. She got rid of all of the departmental curriculum specialists in DCPS headquarters. She assigned ‘literacy coaches’ and ‘numeracy coaches’ who did very little (or NO) actual coaching of teachers, and then hired a lot of ‘master teachers’ who don’t help teachers, but instead figure out ways of downgrading their performance. Yes, Rhee has steadily increased the amount of instructional time that is devoted to prepping students for the DC-CAS, to the point that it looks like it’s nearly one-ninth of the entire year. And, yes, this past year (SY 2009-2010) Rhee was able to push through a labor contract that enshrined most of her cherished ideas about urban educational reform.
And guess what happened to the scores from 2009 to 2010?
Yup, they dropped.
Live by the test score, die by the test score.
Yes, that graph is just for regular DCPS students. No charter school scores are included.