Did Rheeformers Rhee and Henderson Actually Close Any of Those Achievement Gaps in DC Public Schools?

Part Sixteen and Final

Today we look at the black-white and hispanic-white achievement gaps in the Washington, DC public school system, which has now been under mayoral control for seven full years.

My four graphs and tables today will show how laughably pitiful their claims of success really are.

You will see that the achievement gap is pretty much unchanged since the year I retired (2009), but the gap between Rhee’s promises and reality has been getting wider and wider.

A lot of their promises had to do with closing the ‘achievement gaps’ between white and more-affluent students on the one hand, and black, white, and impoverished students on the other hand. As you probably are aware, standardized test scores are very strongly linked to family income and educational levels. You may not be aware that the white population of Washington DC is generally very well-educated.and fairly affluent (unlike rural white populations in, say, West Virginia or Kentucky). Washington has the highest-scoring white student body in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the widest gap between the scores of white students and of hispanic or black students.

However, Michelle Rhee and her minions promised spectacular reductions in those gaps, as measured by the relative percentages of students scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ on the DC-CAS among white students, hispanic students, black students, and students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches (versus those not eligible).

What I found is a complete and utter failure to make any progress whatsoever since 2008 or 2009 — the year that Rhee twisted the arms of every single principal in the school system to come up with miraculous gains, and when many of those principals (and teachers) engaged in cheating to boost the scores.

As usual, don’t just take my word for it. Look at the following four graphs and check my sources if you like.

With these graphs and tables, low numbers are GOOD because that means that the gap between white students on the one hand and black or hispanic students on the other is getting smaller. High numbers are BAD because the gap is getting bigger.

You will notice that each graph has a solid black line — that represents what really happened.

Each graph also has a dotted red line. It represents how much Rhee et al promised that things would improve.

I don’t exactly know what they were smoking when they made those promises, but it seems like they were hallucinating that by WILL alone, and by replacing all the veteran teachers and administrators with untrained, unqualified and inexperienced newbies from TFA or TNTP, they would achieve miracles.

Again, see for yourself.

First we look at the gaps between the scores of black and white students, in math, on the DC-CAS, from 2007-2014.

promised and actual math black-white gaps, 2007-2014

Since 2009, the year that Rhee and many principals were outed as cheaters by a lengthy series of reports in USAToday, you can see that there has in fact been no progress in closing the gap. The prediction is the red, dotted line. The actual performance is the black line, which is essentially horizontal after 2009.

Now let’s look at the black-white achievement gap in reading:

promised and actual reading black-white gaps, 2007-2014

In this case, the gap between the scores of black and white students — as shown by the solid black line — has actually been growing slightly wider since 2008! As in the previous graph, the totally imaginary promises of Rhee and Henderson are the red, dotted line – a line which got farther and farther away from the truth every single year.  Some accomplishment, Rhee and Henderson and Gray!

Thirdly, we look at the gaps between hispanic and white students in math:

promised and actual hispanic-white math gaps, 2007-2014

We see here that the black line has been wiggling up and down since 2009, with the result that the gap for 2014 is almost exactly the same as the gap in 2009, while we were promised miracles. Once again, there is a very important gap that is getting much wider: the gap between the prediction and reality.

My last table and graph for the day concerns the achievement gap for reading, between hispanic and white students.

promised and actual hispanic-white reading gaps, 2007-2014

As you can see, this achievement gap is now actually a bit wider than it was in either 2008 or 2009. And the gap between those promises and reality got steadily wider and wider.

Some people have told me that I’m being unfair, because Rhee and Henderson, under mayoral control, have been making tremendous progress in raising test scores and in closing the achievement gaps. I hope that this post sets the record straight: they have in fact made NO progress in closing the achievement gaps, and their predictions became more and more laughable as time went on.

Can someone explain to me why Kaya Henderson still has a job as chancellor of DC public schools?


This is my last post in this series of articles.

I’ve been examining the promised, miraculous gains that were promised in the troubled Washington, DC public school system to see whether any of those 78 promised goals were reached.

Rhee and Henderson actually accomplished one and a half out of that 78 goals.

It is true that there have been steady improvements on the scores of DCPS students (all groups) in math on the NAEP — but those improvements began in the 1990s, a decade before Mayor Adrian Fenty got the wacky idea of hiring a totally unqualified sociopathic liar (Michelle Rhee) as Chancellor. There were also some fairly large gains in DC-CAS test scores during the first two years it was given, but that’s normal. As far as I have seen, any time any school district adopts a new standardized test, students’ test scores plummet the first year, but then rise after a year or two, as the teachers and students get used to the new format.

The sources I used to compile this data are here and here. My fifteen previous posts on this topic can be found here:

The saga so far:

  1.  https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/did-any-of-michelle-rhees-promises-actually-work-in-dc/
  2. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/more-on-michelle-rhees-promises-concerning-dcps/
  3. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/what-rhee-promised-to-the-billionaires-walton-gates-et-al-but-didnt-deliver/
  4. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/two-more-promises-by-rhee-et-al-were-they-kept/
  5. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/ten-more-promises-from-rhee-henderson-company-were-any-of-them-kept/
  6. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/33-6-for-nearly-all-values-of-3-not-5/
  7. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5281/
  8. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/more-failures-to-deliver-on-promises-by-michelle-rhee-and-her-acolytes/
  9. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/another-day-another-bunch-of-failures-from-rhee-henderson/
  10. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/even-more-missed-targets-dc-cas-proficiency-in-2010-and-2011/
  11. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/rhees-failures-in-dc-the-continuing-saga-2012-dc-cas/
  12. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-long-list-of-failures-by-rhee-and-henderson-continued/
  13. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/did-michelle-rhee-actually-close-those-achievement-gaps/
  14. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/twelve-more-testing-goals-assessed-today-how-many-did-rhee-succeed-at/
  15. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/final-listing-of-completed-and-failed-goals-but-some-analysis-will-follow/

Here is the ‘Smoking Memo’

Without any comment from me, here is the entire ‘Smoking Memo’.

erin dcps lawyer cheating memo page 1


erin dcps lawyer cheating memo page 2


erin dcps lawyer cheating memo page 3



erin dcps lawyer cheating memo page 4

The ‘Smoking Memo’ on Michelle Rhee’s EraserGate was leaked to John Merrow

The “smoking memo” has turned up.
The one that Michelle Rhee, Kaya Henderson, and Charles Willoughby didn’t want the public to see.

The one where the testing company expert told them all about the cheating and what steps they should take — none of which were taken.

That memo was leaked to John Merrow of Frontline. You really should read his entire article. It’s long, it’s got footnotes, and it’s excellent.



Teachers, parents, and concerned citizens should take the time to read this long, footnoted, in-depth follow-up by John Merrow (a journalist at Frontline) on the cheating scandal (by adults) in Washington, DC public schools, in particular at Noyes right here in Brookland.
The article points out several things:
(1) Rhee gave lots of money to adults who cheated
(2) She put impossible pressure on principals to cheat; they, in turn, put that pressure on their teachers
(3) The achievement gap between white and black students, and between poor kids and wealthier kids, increased on Rhee’s and Henderson’s watches; any increases in NAEP scores are continuations of trends that began under her predecessors; and DCPS students’s scores are still at the bottom of the nation
(4) Rhee, Henderson, Kamras, and IG Willoughby have steadfastly refused to investigate the cheating seriously and to do the sort of analysis that actually shows malfeasance
(5) Turnover among administrators and teachers in DCPS has turned a revolving door into a whirlwind
(6) The idealistic principal who followed Wayne Ryan at Noyes, and who was originally a great admirer of Rhee, found a lot of evidence of cheating there, but her whistleblower suit was dismissed, and she now runs a cupcake store
(7) Despite noises to the contrary by Rhee, the number of highly-paid central-office administrators has jumped; DCPS has the highest administrator-to-student ratio anywhere in the region
(8) Funds that should have been used to help students who were behind were, instead, used to pay illegitimate bonuses to dishonest adults.
Here is the URL:
A couple of key quotes:

” former DeKalb County District Attorney Robert … Wilson said that he had been following the DCPS story closely.  “There’s not a shred of doubt in my mind that adults cheated in Washington,” he said. “The big difference is that nobody in DC wanted to know the truth.”


It’s easy to see how not trying to find out who had done the erasing–burying the problem–was better for Michelle Rhee personally, at least in the short term.  She had just handed out over $1.5 million in bonuses in a well-publicized celebration of the test increases[9]. She had been praised by presidential candidates Obama and McCain[10] in their October debate, and she must have known that she was soon to be on the cover of Time Magazine[11].  The public spectacle of an investigation of nearly half of her schools would have tarnished her glowing reputation, especially if the investigators proved that adults cheated–which seems likely given that their jobs depended on raising test scores.

Moreover, a cheating scandal might well have implicated her own “Produce or Else” approach to reform.  Early in her first year she met one-on-one with each principal and demanded a written, signed guarantee[12] of precisely how many points their DC-CAS scores would increase.

It’s 2013.  Is there any point to investigating probable cheating that occurred in 2008, 2009 and 2010?  After all, the children who received inflated scores can’t get a ‘do-over,’ and it’s probably too late to claw back bonuses from adults who cheated, even if they could be identified.  While erasure analysis would reveal the extent of cheating, what deserves careful scrutiny is the behavior of the leadership when it learned that a significant number of adults were probably cheating, because five years later, Rhee’s former deputy is in charge of public schools, and Rhee continues her efforts to persuade states and districts to adopt her approach to education reform–an approach, the evidence indicates, did little or nothing to improve the public schools in our nation’s capital.

This story is bound to remind old Washington hands of Watergate and Senator Howard Baker’s famous question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” It has a memo that answers an echo of Baker’s question, “What did Michelle know, and when did she know it?” And the entire sordid story recalls the lesson of Watergate lesson, “It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup.”

That Michelle Rhee named her new organization “StudentsFirst” is beyond ironic.

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.


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.

Continue reading...

John Merrow also replies to a friend of Michelle Rhee

One of the tiny handful of DC parents who are deceived by Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson wrote another attack on the credibility of the good section of John Merrow’s PBS special on Rhee. It reads like a press release from Henderson’s office. Here is Merrow’s response:

Here’s PBS’s John Merrow’s Response

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your open letter to the PBS Ombudsman. Let me begin by addressing the timing of the statement by the USDE Inspector General. It was released just hours before our national broadcast, and it was only then that Frontline learned of Adell Cothorne’s legal complaint, which had been sealed from public view until it was released by the IG. Although it was too late to include this information in the body of the film, Frontline made extraordinary efforts to include detailed information about the USDE IG’s statement and Cothorne’s filing, and included links to documents in the coda to the film and on its web site.

While we had heard rumors of an investigation by the USDE IG, we were unable to confirm them and could not identify any DC educators who had been interviewed by the USDE IG. We understand now that she [the USDE IG] did her work ‘in tandem’ with the DC Inspector General.

You write ” . . . on six exams administered since allegations of cheating were raised, DC students continued to show steady progress rather than a system wide drop off as you would expect under increased testing security.” I would make two important points. First, the relevant comparison is not to the entire system but to the schools which were flagged for high erasure rates. If one examines the data for the 16 schools with erasure rates of 50% or higher, it is clear that heightened security had a significant impact.

The DC-CAS scores at Noyes, where 81% of classrooms were flagged for high erasures, are themselves circumstantial evidence that supports Cothorne’s allegation. Below are the Noyes DC-CAS scores over five years; 2011 represents the year that security was tightened.

  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Reading 44.14% 61.53 84.21 61.36 32.40
Math 34.24% 57.69 62.79 53.64 28.17


 That represents a drop of nearly 50 points in reading between 2009 and 2011, and a drop of roughly 34 points in math. Note also that in 2011 Noyes students were scoring belowtheir pre-Rhee level.

In all, data are available for 16 schools with erasure rates of at least 50%. DC-CAS reading scores rose in only two schools after security was tightened. Math scores rose in just 4 schools and declined in 12.

Here are three examples:

* At Aiton, (which, like Noyes, had been awarded large cash bonuses) scores in reading dropped from 58.43% proficient to 20.80%, well below pre-Rhee levels. In math, Aiton dropped from 57.87% to 16%, which is also below pre-Rhee levels.

* Raymond also received large bonuses from the Chancellor. Its scores in reading fell from 70% to 42.44%, and its math scores fell from 68% to 45.71%. The reading score is below pre-Rhee levels.

* Savoy went from 46.51% to 20.39% in reading and from 38.37% to 15.38% in math, also well below pre-Rhee levels.

Second, you reference ‘steady progress,’ and it is true that the DC-CAS scores have shown very slow but steady growth (a point made by Rhee in her final interview and shown in our film). That change is credible and consistent with what students of measurement say can be expected in schools that are making progress. However, hugegains and losses are greeted, quite properly, with skepticism by experts, although not by Rhee or her team.

Moreover, as noted in the film, DC schools continue to rank among the worst districts in the nation and have the absolute lowest graduation rate in the US.

The co-investigator of the cheating scandal in Atlanta, Georgia (where investigators had subpoena power and put those testifying under oath) told Frontline that they considered wrong-to-right erasures at a rate of three or more standard deviations away from the norm to be prima facie evidence of cheating. In some classrooms at Noyes, the rate was five or more standard deviations away from the norm, and yet this did not trigger an in-depth investigation.

‘In depth’ would mean erasure analysis and a search for patterns. This can reveal if the person doing the erasing corrected the easier questions or the more difficult ones. If the latter, that raises questions.

No erasure analysis was conducted by Caveon or the DC Inspector General or requested by Rhee.

You write: “Frontline implies that the DC Inspector General’s investigation was not credible and relies on Cothorne’s testimony to substantiate this point.” That is incorrect. We examined the IG Report carefully and reported the facts. Which are: The DC IG report did not examine DC-CAS results during Rhee’s first year, the year with the greatest number of erasures. He did not perform erasure analysis. He did not interview Cothorne. Individuals who spoke with him were not under oath. His report cites one instance where he heard conflicting testimony and simply accepted the word of one individual and rejected the other’s, but he provides no support for that decision. During his 17-month investigation he interviewed just over 50 people. 17 months is approximately 515 days, meaning that he interviewed, on average, one person every 10 days.

He did not examine other schools. In fact, the IG acknowledges that he eliminated one school, Wilson, because the current Chancellor convinced him that Wilson faculty and staff were working hard. However, Wilson’s scores dropped 19% in reading and 23% in math between 2009 and 2011, and 100% of its classrooms had been flagged for high erasures.

We requested an interview with the DC IG to discuss his report, including Cothorne’s charges, but that request was rebuffed.

After interviewing Cothorne, Frontline also attempted to interview Chancellor Rhee. It is accepted form in journalism for the subject of a program to be given ‘the last word,’ a final opportunity to respond to what others have said, and we wanted that to be the case in this instance. We negotiated with Rhee’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, who insisted on seeing written questions that we would be asking. Frontline submitted a number of written questions, which we will not release because they include references to other allegations not made public. Weingarten had indicated that Rhee would respond in writing and, at the same time, consider an on-camera interview. In fact, she did not respond in any way.

Frontline stands by the program, and I stand by what I wrote in Taking Note, my blog.

Frontline counters lies from Kaya Henderson

You’ve probably heard Kaya Henderson’s attempts to discredit Adell Cothone and John Merrow of Frontline. Let me reprint here what Frontline replied:

Response from Frontline’s Phil Bennett

In her statement, DC Public School Chancellor Kaya Henderson asserts: “PBS did not give DCPS the opportunity to respond to these specific allegations. PBS contacted DCPS about doing a documentary on education reform, but did not share any allegations of impropriety or offer DCPS the opportunity to refute any claims.”

This statement is misleading. FRONTLINE made repeated interview requests to current and former DCPS officials including Chancellor Henderson to discuss allegations of cheating — including the 2011 report by USA Today. In response to an email request for an interview, Henderson wrote to our correspondent, John Merrow, “I would prefer not to be interviewed further for your documentary.” It is unclear why Henderson wrote “further” since an earlier introductory phone call from Merrow was not an on-the-record interview. Merrow and Producer Michael Joseloff sought responses to Cothorne’s allegations from the DC Inspector General, who investigated allegations at the Noyes Education Campus (but did not interview Cothorne), and repeatedly from Wayne Ryan, Cothorne’s predecessor at Noyes and later her supervisor when he moved to the DCPS central office. Neither would agree to an interview. FRONTLINE also asked Michelle Rhee for a final interview after we had learned of Cothorne’s charges. She declined to answer a list of questions that we submitted in writing. We did not return to Henderson with a list of specific allegations after she declined our interview request. One reason for this was that the practices that Cothorne says she discovered at Noyes took root during Rhee’s tenure, not Henderson’s.

It is disingenuous for DCPS officials to suggest that they were blindsided by allegations of cheating at Noyes. They were given multiple opportunities to talk with us, and refused. Rather than address the serious questions raised by the film, many of them beyond the alleged cheating scandal, Chancellor Henderson chose to attack the messenger.

As for the question of whether Cothorne was interviewed by investigators twice, as Henderson asserts, we reported in the film that the DC Inspector General did not interview Cothorne about alleged cheating at Noyes, even though she was the principal of the school. This is accurate — neither DSPC nor the IG has challenged our reporting on this point. This is significant because DCPS cites the IG investigation as the most recent and thorough report on the allegations. We did not address in the film whether Cothorne was questioned by Caveon. When we interviewed Cothorne on camera, she told us she had not been interviewed by Caveon about the 2010 DC CAS (Comprehensive Assessment Test). On the morning of the broadcast, she told us that she had misspoken. She said then that she had been interviewed by Caveon, but was asked only about test security procedures and not cheating. She told us that she had not volunteered her charges of cheating because she feared retaliation. She told us that she had later reported her concerns to DCPS and was called to meet with a “higher up” (her whistleblower lawsuit indicates it was Wayne Ryan) prior to the Caveon interview and was warned off of the subject.

We do not know what Henderson is referring to when she says Cothorne was interviewed “twice by an independent investigator.” According to USA Today, Caveon’s interviews at Noyes about the 2009 DC CAS took place on Jan. 29 and Feb. 10, 2010. Cothorne did not become principal until July 2010.

On this subject, as with the film overall, we absolutely stand by the story we presented to viewers. “The Education of Michelle Rhee” is an exhaustively fair, thorough and accurate treatment of a tumultuous period in the DC public schools, the influence of which continues to be felt not just in classrooms in Washington but in the critically important national debate about the future of education.

More Data on the Fraud that Rhee and Henderson and Duncan Insist Never Happened at Noyes and Elsewhere

My colleague Erich Martel has done it again.

He dug around and found out how the numbers of students who were supposedly “proficient” at Noyes Elementary School (or Educational Center) jumped around crazily from year to year. He was nice enough to put these into color-coded tables so you can watch how the cohorts progress. Here are his tables, which I formatted for viewing on this blog:

pctgs of students prof in math + reading by grade and year


Let me try to explain what these charts mean.

The second chart has a diagonal in yellow, representing what I called “cohort L”. In the column labeled “4” for fourth grade, in the line for the year 2006-7, you see the number 29.6. This means that at Noyes, in Reading on the DCCAS, 29.6% of the fourth grade class was deemed “proficient” or “advanced” based on the marks on the test papers they turned in. The next year (SY 2007-8) , most of those same kids were probably back at Noyes with a different teacher, in the 5th grade. An unknown number of students transferred in or out. That year, the percentage of kids in that group who “passed” the DCCAS in reading fell to 5.6%, a very small percentage of the group. However, the next year when most of them are 6th graders, suddenly an astounding 93.3% of the students are proficient or advanced! That number falls to 57% the next year, and a bit under 40% the following year.

Do you believe and trust those numbers? I sure don’t!

Wherever there was a large jump or fall from one year to the next, Erich wrote the number in bold red.

The actual numbers of students in each grade level was fairly consistent from year to year at Noyes during this period of time. They eventually added a 7th and an 8th grade.

To put this into a little clearer perspective, I took Erich’s data and calculated how many students actually “passed” the DCCAS in math and in reading, and put them in a graph. I hope this is a little easier to follow.


num students profic in math by cohort and yhear at noyes


Look at the way those lines jump around!

Real students may be fidgety and jumpy, but their scores on yearly high-stakes tests like this, which many experts say are essentially IQ tests in disguise, do NOT jump around like this. Kids don’t suddenly jump from “Proficient” or “Advanced” to “Basic” or “Below Basic” unless somebody is fiddling with test scores.

It should be obvious to everybody who hasn’t already drunk Michelle Rhee’s Kool-Aid that this is yet more evidence of fraud.

num students profic in reading by cohort and year at Noyes

Published in: on January 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm  Comments (14)  
Tags: , , ,

More Evidence on Lies and Deceptions by Michelle Rhee, Kaya Henderson, and Wayne Ryan

Quite a few interesting articles and documents showing that the so-called ‘reforms’ initiated in Washington, DC public schools under Michelle Rhee were nothing but smoke and mirrors, subsequent to the Frontline special (which was 90% puff and 10% good solid investigative journalism, thwarted by lack of cooperation from most DCPS employees).



First, Frontline reporter John Merrow gave much more detailed information about what Noyes ES ex-principal Adell Cothorne said. His written report, very much worth reading, is here.




Second, Cothorne’s own suit against DCPS can be found here, as a pdf. I am posting below a few key paragraphs.




Third, Jay Mathews has his reaction to the additional information provided by Ms. Cothorne.




Fourth, we have an explanation from Mary Levy on Diane Ravitch’s blog as to why the investigative authorities chose not to do any real investigation at all into the rampant cheating that took place in DCPS to make it appear as if an educational miracle was taking place under the magic spell of Michelle Rhee.







As promised, here are some selections from  the lawsuit filed by Adell Cothorne, former principal who took over at Noyes and found the rampant cheating there. The alert reader will note that specific individuals are name

lawsuit 1

lawsuit 2
lawsuit 3lawsuit 4lawsuit 5lawsuit 6

Criticism by Teacher/Reporter on Michelle Rhee’s “Crocodile Tears” re Chicago Teachers’ Strike

Definitely worth reading:


Michelle Rhee wrote an op ed in the Washington Post on 9/28/12.
There are 512 comments.
Here are two that I wrote.  I couldn’t help but wonder at her short memory.

Chicago Teachers Strike Underscores Shift Among Democrats by Michelle Rhee

Washington Post, 9/28/12      http://tinyurl.com/9hnqr2t

Comments by Erich Martel

Dear Ms. Rhee, (Part I)

It’s always good to be reminded how “passionate” you are “about the rights of workers” as you continue to crusade unselfishly for the children and stand ever ready to counsel politicians on the make from either party.

Thanks to your acclaim, Chicago teachers and CTU President Karen Lewis and their many parent/ community supporters understood Mayor Rahm’s game.  They heeded the warning, “Beware of mayors bearing Michelle Rhee’s gifts.”  In the midst of a national election, they said, “Won’t Back Down.”

In your op-ed piece you made some statements that were rather surprising in light of your policies and practices back when you were our rock star chancellor in Washington , D.C.

First, there’s the 3-year cheating scandal, 2008-2010.  You were informed by CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing company for the NCLB standardized tests, that classrooms in 103 DC schools were flagged for statistically excessive Wrong to Right erasures. You hired Caveon for a review, but restricted its forensic reach.  If you profess to care about the achievement gap, why would you allow students and their parents to be misled with potentially false results?

The bonus awards, including federal Race to the Top grants, were based on inflated scores.  Tell Chancellor Henderson and State Supt. Mahaley to institute a full and independent investigation, like the one in Atlanta .

I was really surprised to see you write, “When kids do make it to college, roughly a third need remedial work because they weren’t adequately prepared by the K-12 system.”

Did you forget how you treated math and science education in DCPS – well, all education, really?  When you and Kaya Henderson were appointed to DCPS in June 2007, DC already had in place standards that received top ratings from the Fordham Institute. The next step was to convene teachers to write aligned curricula.  As the bridge between subject standards and coherent lesson plans, their absence made lesson planning burdensome, making teachers vulnerable to poor evaluations.

You did nothing, because your & your foundation patrons’ agenda to be the lightning rod of teacher and union blame by developing a high-profile teacher evaluation instrument to find teachers ineffective and difficult to challenge when unfairly applied.  In addition and in sync with the evaluation, the union contract had to be weakened, so you could use budget changes, school closures or program changes to mass terminate scores or more teachers at one time, regardless of their evaluations and general excellence.

“Roughly a third need remedial work” – Are you forgetting that you instituted afternoon “credit recovery” in all DCPS high schools (“no traditional homework” allowed) in 2008-09?  Students cut day classes to get an easier pass.  Content mastery was a joke. I described it on Fordham’s Education Gadfly: http://tinyurl.com/bwco5sm .  Your lite diplomas: the fast track to remedial college classes.

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Dear Ms. Rhee, (Part II)

You wrote, “The US is falling behind … in math and science.”  I’m surprised you finally noticed. I arranged meetings for you with leading reading researcher Louisa Moats and with math researcher Barry Garelick, whose writings described the advantages of Singapore math and how EveryDay Math (used by DCPS) impedes math fluency.  Did you meet with them?

In July 2009, you dissolved the city-wide science dept, fired its director & moved all teaching support staff to the “the teaching & learning framework,” allegedly the basis of the IMPACT teacher evaluation, that had to be ready by Sept 2009.

The year before, you arbitrarily transferred Wilson HS’s AP Biology teacher (the most effective in DCPS) to a disorderly middle school. In 14 yrs: 124 5s; 92 4s; 95 3s; 92 2s; 38 1s):  http://www.reinstatedrart.com/student.html In 6 weeks, a student-initiated petition secured over 500 current and former students and parents, who cited his formative role in college preparation & why some chose science and medicine, asked you to restore him to Wilson.  You refused.  Yes, you want parent trigger laws, when they suit your agenda. When parents and students spoke up for academic integrity, you would not “back down.”

Your crocodile tears about the obstacles facing black and Hispanic students contradict your performance.  I’m reminding you of the events prior to your and Asst Supt John Davis’s involuntarily transfer me from Wilson HS in 2010: due to “significant philosophical educational differences with the Wilson HS admin” (www.dcpswatch.com/martel ):

1.  You allowed 5-year hs players on DCPS athletic teams, compromising academic and athletic integrity and NCAA eligibility.

2.  Dec 2009:  After I sent you a 10-page faculty survey (89% participation) describing hallway disruption at Wilson HS, you sent the principal assistance:  Suddenly administrators were visible in the halls, actually stopping student disruption during class time.

3.  March 2010:  When I show the principal my strategies for preventing cheating (small fonts, scrambled pages – like the SAT), he accuses me of “creating an expectation that students will cheat.  They will rise to meet your expectations.”  He confirmed it to WPost reporter Jay Mathews:   http://tinyurl.com/yeew6zm  With all the cheating on the standardized tests reported to you, why didn’t you inform me and the principal that I was doing the right thing?  Do you condone cheating?  The principal is always right?

4. April 2010: I report to you & Henderson that the asst principal and several aides & deans (no parents) took 88 seniors (mostly Afr-Am) to the Bahamas during 3 school days, 2 wks before AP exams.  Many students are failing (8 w/ >200 unex absences!). Once there, students were unsupervised. ONLY the chancellor (YOU) can approve int’l trips.  I had reported similar problems the year before.  Why did you approve it w/o checking: Is Wilson special?  Afr-Am students don’t matter?


An Investigation Into Cheating by Adults In Philadelphia Public Schools

The recent whitewash job by Inspector General Willoughby in Washington, DC should be compared to the more thorough, yet still imperfect, investigations in Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Please read a recent article in Education Week and help call for an honest investigation of Erasuregate under Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson in DCPS.

A couple of passages from the Ed Week article:

The scope of the Philadelphia School District’s problem with suspicious erasures on state standardized tests is far more widespread than officials have publicly revealed.

But so far state and District investigators have launched deeper probes into suspected cheating at only a third of the 53 schools where strong evidence was found.

Confidential documents and information obtained by Newsworksand the Public School Notebook show that many of the 53 schools were flagged across multiple grades, subjects, and years for extremely high rates of “wrong-to-right” erasures on test answer forms. The documents include results from erasure analyses conducted in 2010 and 2011, which state officials have declined to make public.

In response to those findings, the District put in place tough new test-security measures last spring. The result was huge drops in scores at nearly all of the 53 schools, 

And from a different source:

Standardized test scores dropped precipitously in Philadelphia District schools this year, with most of the biggest declines occurring in schools under investigation for possible cheating and in the early grades.

Details on those suspicious Philly erasures, which are quite similar to those in Atlanta and DC.


Published in: on August 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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