Even Conservatives Think There Is a Lot of Cheating Going On in DCPS

An article in American Thinker, a conservative rag, shows up Rhee, Henderson et al as corrupt liars, cheaters, and folks who stonewall and cover up the truth.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/m-unsolved_mystery_dc_public_schools_cheating_scandal.html

It’s pretty decent investigative journalism, in fact.

The first few paragraphs from the article:

Unsolved Mystery: D.C. Public Schools Cheating Scandal

By M. Catharine Evans and Ann Kane

The Washington, D.C. school system’s failure to hold higher-ups accountable for their 2008-2010 test cheating scandal has led to more speculation that some are intentionally stonewalling attempts to get at the truth.

According to the Washington Post, D.C. ‘s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), headed by Hosanna Mahaley, issued a December 23 press release after months of dodging Freedom of Information requests by journalists.  In September, a spokesman for OSSE told the Post‘s Jay Mathews that the “data was ready and I would get it after Mahaley returned from a trip to Brazil.”

Mahaley, who was attending a Pearson Foundation conference (one of the largest educational publishers in the nation) in Rio de Janeiro in October, has a reputation for governing in absentia.  For example, OSSE had set up six town hall meetings for November as part of a requirement by the federal government to “engage diverse stakeholders and communities in the development of its request” for a waiver from No Child Left Behind rules.  On the first advertised date, only one person showed up, and that didn’t include anyone from the OSSE.  Subsequent town halls were canceled until the new year.

Sloppy scheduling may be forgivable, but viewing that along with political maneuvers to hide test scores shows a pattern of questionable behavior.

Finally, a day before Christmas Eve, Mahaley’s office responded to inquiries.  But instead of releasing the anticipated erasure data concerning wrong-to-right answers (WTR) for 2011, OSSE announced a “Request for Proposal soliciting vendors to assess and investigate individual classrooms.”  The RFP came after an advisory committee of “national experts” convened to determine the best way to deal with test security.

The stall tactics didn’t go over too well, and on December 31, Mahaley’s office publicly released their “DC Comprehensive Assessment System Wrong-to-Right Changes Report” dated July 15, 2011.  The nine-page document indicated that 128 classrooms, 3% of schools tested, had high WTR erasures, down from 253 schools in 2009.  Although CTB/McGraw Hill named the flagged schools and teachers, they were purposely omitted from the OSSE report.

Tamara Reavis, Mahaley’s director of assessments and accountability, stated that erasures “are only one data point to flag classrooms.”  In fairness, an outside firm will be hired to measure the results “in conjunction with other information.” 

Mahaley and Reavis, along with DCPS chiefs and Mayor Gray, seem determined to drag this scandal out.  Why not just produce an in-depth analysis of answer sheet erasures for 2008-2011 and question all of those at the helm?  Why are top D.C. officials still calling for “vendors” to make recommendations for tighter security measures?  Why not rip the Band-Aid off and get it over with?  With the obvious delay tactics and suppression of findings, it appears that the campaign to keep parents, teachers, and journalists in the dark marches on.  Why all the obfuscation when former players like Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty are no longer in power?  Is the wrongdoing so egregious that it can be quashed only through a monotonous dribs-and-drabs strategy?

Last March, a USA Today investigation showed a huge amount of wrong-to-right answer sheet erasures at more than half of D.C. schools; their inquiry didn’t include charter schools.

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  1. [...] to G.F. Brandenburg for finding this astonishing piece of investigative [...]


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