Kaya Henderson Really Doesn’t Know How to Run a School System

DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson told the city two days ago, “I want to be clear. We know what we need to do, and we have what it takes to get it done.”

That is patently untrue.

Even by her own yardsticks, namely test scores, Henderson and her kind of ‘reform’ has so far been a complete failure; Continuing the churn-and-test-prep regime won’t make it any better

As I wrote in a comment on the article in the Washington Post:

All of Henderson’s boasts of continuous progress are completely bogus. 
 
If you look at the scores on the DC-CAS for every single subgroup, you can see that they have stagnated since 2009, which was the year before Rhee, Kamras and Henderson implemented their trademark reforms (IMPACT, TLF, VAM “merit pay” and eliminating seniority protections for teachers). The gaps between white students and hispanic or black students have NOT narrowed since that time. There were some increases from 2006-2009, but it’s not clear how much of that was due to adults cheating, or simply because students and teachers were adapting to a brand-new test. (You may recall that the DC-CAS was administered for the very first time in 2006, and the percentages of kids deemed ‘proficient’ dropped quite a bit in comparison to what they were under the old test, especially in math.) 
 
Also: out of the 78 measurable goals set by Rhee and four large foundations, in order to earn that $64.5 million grant in 2009, the DCPS leadership has achieved a mere one and one-half of those goals (and I’m being generous with the one-half). That is a success rate of TWO PERCENT. 
 
In other words, Rhee and Henderson have an almost perfect record of failure, none of which is publicized by the media (esp. not WaPo editorial staff) but is easy to see if you look at the official OSSE statistics and are willing to dig a little bit.  
 
I’ve done some digging and have made some pretty easy-to-understand graphs showing how much Rhee and Henderson have failed. Look at my blog, gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com , and in particular at http://bit.ly/10mna8c , http://bit.ly/10mneEY , and http://bit.ly/1ptal1K . 
 
After you read those blog posts, can you explain to me why Kaya Henderson still has a job? It is so clear that mayoral control has been a complete failure!

Final Listing of Completed and Failed Goals, But Some Analysis Will Follow

Part Fifteen of Many

 

Here we come to the last four of the 78 promises that Michelle Rhee made to get $64.5 million.

Did she and her successors reach any of these four last goals?

No.

As usual.

Even though they fiddled with the definition of “Free and Reduced-Price Lunches”, which almost surely made the numbers better than they would be otherwise, Rhee and Henderson have continued their long losing streak.

Today we look at the poor-nonpoor achievement gaps in 2013 for DC Public Schools.

More technically, we are comparing the percentages of students scoring at the “advanced” or “proficient” level in elementary and secondary math and reading. in two groups: those eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and those who are NOT eligible. The USDoE and most school districts use the data entered by parents on lunch application forms to decide not only who is eligible for the lunch subsidies, but also as a proxy for poverty or the lack thereof.

Unfortunately for consistency in our ability to measure things over time, in SY 2012-2013 DCPS allowed schools with a sufficient number of students who did qualify as poor, to declare every single child in the school as ‘economically disadvantaged’. It meant free school lunches for the students, which in theory is a good thing (if the food is actually edible, which is sometimes but not always the case), but does make our data-crunching harder by making the data for 2010, 2011, and 2012 not really comparable to that for 2013 — if you are serious about measuring the ‘achievement gap’ between the poor and the non-poor in DC Public Schools. A statistician has told me that this change also probably had the effect of reducing the apparent achievement gap.

You can see in the following table that once again not a single goal was reached:

final gaps -- poor-nonpoor 2013 dccas

So, for example, and as usual starting at the top line, Rhee promised that in 2013 the difference in the ‘proficiency’ rates of poor and non-poor students in DCPS in reading would be 26.7%. (Keep in mind that a reduced gap is a Good Thing.) However, the gap was actually much wider: it was 46.5%. In elementary math, we were promised a gap of 26.9%, but it was actually 43.5%. And so on. I notice that the gaps are smaller at the secondary level; I suspect that may have something to do with the re-definition of FRPL, but cannot prove it.

In any case, here is the grand total of all of these failures:

Successes: 1.5 (one and a half)

Failures: 76.5

Total number of goals measured: 78

Success rate: 1.9%

Failure rate: 98.1%.

Mayor Gray, why are you enabling our bungling and failing Chancellor, Kaya Henderson?

City Council, why aren’t you calling hearings?

-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

The saga so far:

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

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Once again, let me credit my colleague Erich Martel for coming up with the idea of going back to the original promises and seeing if they were kept or not, and sharing his findings with me. These calculations are generally my own, so if you find any mistakes, don’t blame him. Blame me.

You can find the original spreadsheet for 2012 DC-CAS scores here,  and the original letters containing the promises here.

 

Even More Missed Targets: DC-CAS Proficiency in 2010 and 2011

Part Ten of Many

Installment #10 in our lengthy saga of failures by the current and past Chancellors of the District of Columbia School system.

Today we look at overall proficiency rates in elementary and secondary math and reading on the DC-CAS for 2010 and 2011, which will add up to eight separate goals out of our grand total of 78.

(Up until now, out of 38 goals assessed, the dynamic duo of Rhee and Henderson managed to attain one and a half of them.)

Here is the summary table:

missed goals on dc cas proficiency

In this set of goals, a high number is good, because it means a higher proportion of students are ‘proficient’. Unfortunately for Rhee, Henderson and the various billionaire foundations, not a single one of these targets were met.

Not one.

In every single case, the ‘target’ was higher than the actual proficiency rate — and in some cases, the proficiecy rates actually declined a bit from 2010 to 2011, despite all the rosy predictions…

For example: in 2010, the promise was that 53.0% of all DCPS elementary students would be ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ on the DC-CAS in math. In reality, only 42.8% of our elementary kids met that standard. In 2011, the prediction was that 58% of all DCPS elementary students would be proficient or advanced in math on the DC-CAS, but in fact, only 41.8% were — and that was a decline of about 1% from the year before.

And the same sort of thing happened in every one of the eight categories measured here. In every single case, the predicted target was considerably higher than the actual result.

So with eight more failures out of eight more measurements, the total now is 44.5 failures and 1.5 successes, which is beyond pitiful: about THREE PERCENT success and 97% FAILURE.

failure rate out of 46

Again, why does Kaya Henderson still have a job?

And why didn’t these four foundations ask for their money back?

===================

My next task needs to be to investigate the results for 2012 and 2013, which will be a bit challenging because DCPS and OSSE completely changed the way data are reported. The new way looks all fun and interactive but — in my opinion — is a lot harder to extract actual information from. It might take me a couple of days.

The saga so far:

  1.  http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/did-any-of-michelle-rhees-promises-actually-work-in-dc/
  2. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/more-on-michelle-rhees-promises-concerning-dcps/
  3. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/what-rhee-promised-to-the-billionaires-walton-gates-et-al-but-didnt-deliver/
  4. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/two-more-promises-by-rhee-et-al-were-they-kept/
  5. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/ten-more-promises-from-rhee-henderson-company-were-any-of-them-kept/
  6. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/33-6-for-nearly-all-values-of-3-not-5/
  7. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5281/
  8. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/more-failures-to-deliver-on-promises-by-michelle-rhee-and-her-acolytes/
  9. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/another-day-another-bunch-of-failures-from-rhee-henderson/
  10. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/even-more-missed-targets-dc-cas-proficiency-in-2010-and-2011/ (this one)
  11. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/rhees-failures-in-dc-the-continuing-saga-2012-dc-cas/
  12. http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-long-list-of-failures-by-rhee-and-henderson-continued/

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Once again, let me credit my colleague Erich Martel for coming up with the idea of going back to the original promises and seeing if they were kept or not, and sharing his findings with me. These calculations are generally my own, so if you find any mistakes, don’t blame him. Blame me.

My Predictions for the 2014 DC-CAS Scores

Sometime this month, the Mayor of DC and the Chancellor of the DC Public Schools will make some sort of announcement on how DC public and charter school students did on the DC-CAS (Comprehensive Assessment System) – the test required by Federal law to be given to every single kid in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 10.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and I haven’t developed any sources willing to risk their jobs by leaking the results to me in advance, but I can make a few predictions:

1. If the results look bad, they will be released right before a holiday or a weekend (a basic public-relations tactic that all public officials learn).

2. If the scores as a whole look good, or if there is some part of the trends that look good, that will be highlighted heavily.

3. There won’t be much of a correlation between the trends on the DC-CAS scores and the National Assessment of Ednucational Progress, which has been measuring student achievement in grades 4 and 8 in reading and math since the 1970s by giving a carefully-selected sample of students in DC and across the nation a variety of different test items in math, reading, and a number of other areas.

4. Even though the DC-CAS results won’t be released to the public for a couple more weeks, clearly DCPS officials and Mathematica staff already have them; they have been firing teachers and principals and “adjusting” – with the benefit of hindsight – the rest of their evaluations to fit the DC-CAS scores and the magic secret formula called “Value Added Magic Measurement”.

You may ask, how can GFBrandenburg predict not much of a match between the DC-CAS and the NAEP?

By looking at the track record, which I will share with you.

I present the average scores of all DC students on both the DC-CAS and on the NAEP over the past quarter-century. The NAEP scores for the District of Columbia have either been pretty steady or have been rising slightly.

As far as I can tell, the statisticians at the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) who design, administer, and score the NAEP do a fine job of

A. making sure that there is no cheating by either students or adults,

B.  making up good questions that measure important topics, and

C. gathering, collating, and reporting the data in an honest manner.

On the DC -CAS, however, we have had many documented cases of cheating (see point A), I have shown that many of the questions are ridiculous and don’t measure what we teachers were supposed to be teaching (see point B), and I hope to show you that whatever they are doing with the scores does not seem to be trustworthy.

Exhibit number one is a graph where I plot the average scale scores of the students in Washington DC on both the NAEP and on the DC-CAS for fourth grade math:

naep + dccas 4th grade math comparison

Allow me to explain.

The bottom blue curve is what DC’s fourth-graders average scale scores were on the NAEP starting in 1992 and going on through 2013. As you can see, since 1996, there has been what appears like more-or-less steady improvement.

(It is very hard, in fact, to see much of a difference in trends before mayoral control over the DC schools and after that time. I drew a vertical black line to separate the ‘Pre-Rhee” era from the “Post-Rhee” era, since Michelle Rhee was the very first Chancellor installed in the DC schools, after the annual tests were given in 2007.)

(As noted,  the NAEP scale scores go from 0 to 500, but the DC-CAS scores go from 0 to 100. I decided that the easiest way to have them both fit on the same graph would simply be to divide the NAEP scores by 5. The actual reported NAEP scores are in the little table, if you want to examine them for yourself. You can double-check my numbers by looking around at the NAEP and DC OSSE websites — which are unfortunately not easy to navigate, so good luck, and be persistent! You will also find that some years have two different scores reported, which is why I put those double asterisks at a couple of places on those curves.)

But here’s what’s really suspicious: the DC-CAS scores, shown in red, seem to jump around wildly and appear to show tremendous progress overall but also utterly un-heralded drops.

Which is it?

Slow, steady progress since 1996, or an amazing jump as soon as Wonder Woman Rhee comes on the scene?

In my opinion, I’d much rather trust the feds on this. We know that there has been all sorts of hanky-panky with the DC-CAS, as repeatedly documented in many places. I know for a fact that we math teachers have been changing the ways that we teach, to be more in line with the 1989 NCTM standards and the ways that math is tested on the NAEP. It’s also the case that there has been significant gentrification in DC, with the proportion of white kids with highly educated parents rising fairly steadily.

Slow improvement in math scores, going back a quarter of a century, makes sense.

Wild jumps don’t seem reasonable to me at all.

On the contrary, besides the known mass cheating episodes, it almost seems like DC education officials get together with McGraw-Hill CTB, which manufactures the DC-CAS, and decide how they want to get the scores to come out. THEN they decide which questions to count and which ones NOT to count, and what the cut-off scores will be for ‘advanced’, ‘proficient’ and so on.

Next time: 8th grade math; and 4th and 8th grade reading.

=======

Links to my other articles on this:

Part One  (fourth grade math)— this one right here

Part Two (8th grade math)

Part Three (all reading)

2013 DC-CAS Scores Released (Sort of)

The DC Office of the State Superintendent has released a spreadsheet with overall proficiency rates in reading and math and a combination of the two for the  spring 2013 DC-CAS multiple-choice test. You can see the whole list here. and look for your favorite school, charter or public.

Overall, percentages of students deemed ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ seem to be up a bit from last year. At some schools, the scores went up enormously — which we know is often a suspicious sign.

But there are several major problems with this data:

(1) We have no idea whether this year’s test was easier, harder, or the same as previous years’ tests, since the manufacturer is allowed to keep every single item secret. The vast majority of teachers are forbidden even to look at the tests they are administering, to see if the items make sense, match the curriculum, are ridiculously hard, or are ridiculously easy.

(2) We have no idea what the cutoff scores are for any of the categories: “basic”, “below basic”, “proficient”, or “advanced”. Remember the scams that the education authorities pulled in New York State a few years ago on their state-wide required student exams? If not, let me remind you: every year they kept reducing the cutoff scores for passing, and as a result, the percentages of students passing got better and better. However, those rising scores didn’t match the results from the NAEP. It was shown that to get a passing grade on certain tests, a student only had to guess about 44% of the answers to get a proficient score — on a test where each question had four possible answers (A, B, C, D). (NYT article on this)

(3) In keeping with their usual tendency to make information hard to find, the OSSE data does not include any demographic data on the student bodies. We don’t know how many students took the tests, or what percentages belong to which ethnic group or race, or how many are on free or reduced-price lunch, or are in special education, or are immigrants with little or no English. Perhaps this information will come out on its own, perhaps not. It is certainly annoying that nearly every year they use a different format for reporting the data.

I think it’s time for a Freedom of Information Act request to get this information.

Details on those ‘Dozens and Dozens’ of Schools

As promised, I am posting the charts that I laboriously put together from data published by OSSE and a spreadsheet leaked to me, showing how unconvincing was the progress at the only 13 schools that WaPo reporter Jay Mathews could find that even vaguely resembled the ones that Michelle Rhee bragged about.

I am not going to look at the schools with large percentages of white students or at McKinley Tech.

First, here are my charts for Payne ES, Plummer ES and Prospect LC. I color-coded the chart much the way that Erich Martel does. That is, each diagonal sloping up to the right represents an individual cohort of students as they move from grade to grade, from year to year. Obviously I have no way of telling how many students transferred into our out of each cohort, but my experience in several DC public schools in all four quadrants indicates that students don’t move around all that much.

Thus, at Payne, under “Reading”, in the column for 3rd grade, in the row for 2010, you see the number 27. That means that at Payne, in the 3rd grade, in school year 2009-2010, about 27% of the students were ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ in reading according to their scores on the DC-CAS. The next year, most of those kids returned as fourth graders in the same school, and about 23% of them ‘passed’ the DC-CAS in reading because their answer sheets had enough correct answers for them to score ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’. Note, that cell is also blue. But the next year, 2011-12, the percentage of students ‘passing’ the DC-CAS doubled, to 46%. I find that jump worthy of a red flag. Either that teacher did something astounding, or the students are an entirely different group of kids, or else someone cheated (most likely not the students).

payne plummer + Prospect

 

Any time I saw a drop or rise of 10% or more from the year before for a single cohort, I noted my “red flag” by writing the  percentage of passing scores in bold, red.

Notice that at Plummer, the cohort in blue, in reading, went fomr 40% passing to 18% passing to 46% passing in the course of three years. The cohort in green in math went from 60% passing to 18% passing to  29% passing.

At Prospect, the cohort in yellow goes from 25% passing to 0% passing to 5% passing to 5% passing in reading. In math, the same group goes from 13% to 31% to 0% to 24% passing.

You see anything weird with that? I sure do.

Next come Thomson, Tubman, Hart, and Sousa:

thomson tubman hart + sousa

 

The only one of these schools with a chart not covered with ‘red flags’ is Hart.

Your thoughts? (As usual, the “comment” button, below the end of this story, is tiny. Sorry about that.)

 

Double-Digit Increases and Decreases in NCLB Pass Rates: Real or Fraudulent?

A lot of DC public and charter schools have had a lot of double-digit year-to-year changes in their published proficiency rates from 2008 through 2012.

Of course, that sort of change may be entirely innocent, and even praiseworthy if it’s in a positive direction and is the result of better teaching methods. However, we now know that such changes are sometimes not innocent at all and reflect changes in methods of tampering with students’ answer sheets. (And we also know that DC’s Inspector General and the Chancellors of DCPS are determined NOT to look for any wrong-doing that might make their pet theories look bad.)

Whether these are innocent changes, or not, is for others to decide – but these schools’ scores are worth looking at again, one way or another. If it’s fraud, it needs to be stopped. If double-digit increases in DC-CAS pass rates are due to better teaching, then those methods need to be shared widely!

What I did was examine a spreadsheet published by OSSE and Mayor Gray’s office and examine how the percentages of “proficient” students in reading and math at each school changed one year to the next, or from one year to two years later for the period SY 2007-8 through SY 2011-12, five full years. I then counted how many times a school’s listed percentage of “proficient” students went up, or went down, by ten or more percentage points, from one year to the next, or from one year to two years later.

One charter school, D.C. Preparatory Academy PCS – Edgewood Elementary Campus, had ELEVEN double-digit changes from year to year or from one year to two years later. All were upward changes. Perhaps these are really the results of educational improvements, perhaps not. I have no way of knowing. If it’s really the result of better teaching, great! Let their secrets be shared! If it’s not legitimate, then the fraud needs to end.

Two regular DC public elementary schools, Tyler and Hendley, both had TEN double-digit changes measured in the same way. Both had four increases of 10% or more, and both had six decreases by the same amount.

Six schools had NINE double-digit changes. After the names of each school, I will list how many of these were in the positive and negative directions (i.e., up or down). Here they are:

  1. Burroughs EC (3 up, 6 down)
  2. D.C. Bilingual PCS (8 up, 1 down)
  3. Kimball ES (2 up, 7 down)
  4. Meridian PCS (5 up, 4 down)
  5. Potomac Lighthouse PCS (6 up, 3 down)
  6. Wilson J.O. ES (2 up, 7 down)

Thirteen schools had EIGHT double-digit year-to-year changes in proficiency rates. I will list them similarly:

  1. Aiton ES (0 up, 8 down)
  2. Barnard ES (Lincoln Hill Cluster)  (2 up, 6 down)
  3. Cesar Chavez PCS – Capitol Hill Campus (6 up, 2 down)
  4. Coolidge SHS (3 up, 5 down)
  5. Hospitality PCS (4 up, 4 down)
  6. Houston ES (3 up, 5 down)
  7. Ludlow-Taylor ES (5 up, 3 down)
  8. Noyes ES (1 up, 7 down)
  9. Raymond ES (1 up, 7 down)
  10. Roots PCS- Kennedy Street Campus (5 up, 3 down)
  11. Septima Clark PCS (8 up, 0 down)
  12. Thomas ES (4 up, 4 down)
  13. Washington Math Science Technology (WMST) PCS (4 up, 4 down)

Eighteen schools had SEVEN double-digit year-to-year changes:

  1. Booker T. Washington PCS (4 up, 3 down)
  2. Brent ES (7 up, 0 down)
  3. Community Academy PCS – Butler Bilingual (7 up, 0 down)
  4. Garrison ES (2 up, 5 down)
  5. Hearst ES (0 up, 7 down)
  6. Imagine Southeast PCS (6 up, 1 down)
  7. LaSalle-Backus EC (1 up, 6 down)
  8. Leckie ES (2 up,                 5 down)
  9. Marie Reed ES (2 up, 5 down)
  10. Martin Luther King ES (3 up, 4 down)
  11. McKinley Technology HS (7 up, 0 down)
  12. Payne ES (5 up, 2 down)
  13. Ross ES (6 up, 1 down)
  14. Sharpe Health School (4 up, 3 down)
  15. Takoma EC (0 up, 7 down)
  16. Tree of Life PCS (3 up, 4 down)
  17. Turner  ES at Green (3 up, 4 down)
  18. Two Rivers Elementary PCS (7 up, 0 down)

 

Seventeen schools had SIX double-digit year-to-year changes in proficiency rates:

  1. Bruce-Monroe ES at Park View (2 up, 4 down)
  2. Burrville ES (1 up, 5 down)
  3. C.W. Harris ES (2 up, 4 down)
  4. Center City PCS – Capitol Hill Campus (6 up, 0 down)
  5. Center City PCS – Trinidad Campus (5 up, 1 down)
  6. Cesar Chavez PCS – Bruce Prep Campus (6 up, 0 down)
  7. D.C. Preparatory Academcy PCS – Edgewood Middle Campus (6 up, 0 down)
  8. Ferebee Hope ES (1 up, 5 down)
  9. Friendship PCS – Blow-Pierce (2 up, 4 down)
  10. Friendship PCS – Collegiate (4 up, 2 down)
  11. Kenilworth ES (5 up, 1 down)
  12. Luke C. Moore Academy HS (4 up, 2 down)
  13. Mamie D. Lee School (4 up, 2 down)
  14. Roosevelt SHS (3 up, 3 down)
  15. Simon ES (3 up, 3 down)
  16. Stanton ES (3 up, 3 down)
  17. Winston EC (1 up, 5 down)

Let me caution my readers: Just because there are double-digit changes does not in itself mean there is fraud. Student populations can change in average socioeconomic status or composition for all sorts of reasons. Teaching staff and administrators can also change – and so can teaching methodologies, and sometimes entire schools move from one location to another one, with somewhat unpredictable results for good or for the opposite.

However, documented news articles in USA Today and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which I have referenced in this blog, have shown convincingly that some of the large swings are definitely due to massive amounts of erasures of incorrect answers, or improper coaching of students during the test by administrators or teachers.

If the increases in pass rates are in fact legitimate, then the rest of the teachers in DC need to know what those secrets are!

In any case, there should be further scrutiny to figure out what is causing such large swings in scores at so many schools.

Note: I got my data here: http://osse.dc.gov/release/mayor-vincent-c-gray-announces-2012-dc-cas-results

Published in: on October 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , ,

An exercise in double-speak

Here is the text of the press release on investigating anomalies in the 2011 testing administration in DCPS. Notice what they say:

(1) It’s now 10 months after the test was given, and all they have done is finished with the “Request for Proposal” process, asking vendors to make bids to do some investigation. [I spoke just now with Marc Caposino (listed in the text below), and he said that his office would make a recommendation on Monday, but that after that it goes to Contracts & Proocurement.]

(2) Even though the publisher of the test itself, McGraw-Hill CTB, has other forensical statistical methods they are willing to provide to DCPS (for a fee), and they have had these for years, only now is DCPS beginning to wonder what other methods to use. [I asked Caposino why they didn't use an analysis of identical wrong answers as well; he said he wasn't in any of the focus groups or advisory panels, so he didn't know. He did say he had read "Freakonomics", though, and agreed that the investigation is taking way too long.]

(3) They don’t reveal who was on the panel. I’d like to talk to them. [MC said he'd send me the link that lists who was on those panels or focus groups, but it's in one of their prior press releases.]

(4) They claim the number of classes with cheating issues is minuscule. [I have my doubts. Ex-principals I've talked with at some length have told me that the pressure to cheat was huge. It seemed to me that if you didn't cheat, you were sure of losing your job.]

(5) They don’t point out that this cheating has affected both students and teachers in very negative ways, while the unscrupulous administrators or teachers who cheated have earned nice bonuses… [Again, we need to put both Wayne Ryan and Michelle Rhee in the hot seat in that interrogation room. Let them take the 5th amendment if they like. Let them! They both became wealthy and famous by cheating, or so it appears. They need to pay the price, just like any other white-collar criminal or embezzler!]

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

OSSE’s RFP Process for Test Integrity Vendor Comes to an End

Selection of independent vendor for test integrity investigations is underway

Contact: Marc Caposino, (202) 727-7207

Washington, DC – The OSSE request for proposal to investigate classrooms for test integrity closed Tuesday, February 7, and resulted in multiple bids. OSSE will make a recommendation for vendor selection by Monday, February 13, 2012 to the Office of Contracts and Procurement for final determination.

“We are committed to restoring and improving confidence in our standardized tests security and recognize that teachers and students are working hard on improving test scores. We believe wholeheartedly that the overwhelming majority of school leaders, teachers, and students are playing by the rules,” stated Hosanna Mahaley, State Superintendent of Education.

During the 2011 cycle, Phase One of OSSE’s enhanced test security protocols included, among others, adding seals to the test booklets, doubling the number of schools monitored by OSSE during test administration, and shortening the test booklet pick-up period.

Phase two of the enhanced security protocols was about strengthening and building community understanding and belief in the erasure analysis process, which has been broadly discussed in the local and national media. OSSE consulted with an independent advisory committee of national experts in the area of education assessment who recommended two new methods, bringing the number of analyses to 4 key measures used to test for anomalies in classrooms:

  • Unusual student-level gains in achievement from 2010 to 2011
  • Wrong-to-right erasure analysis
  • Within classroom variances (new)
  • Wrong-to-right erasure analysis for 2010 and 2011 (new)

The third and final phase of the enhanced process, as recommended by the national experts, is securing an independent third party to conduct follow-up investigations of the classrooms that were flagged for potential impropriety.

It is important to recognize that the subjects of all investigations are entitled to a fair and impartial process. The mere fact that a classroom has been flagged is not evidence of wrongdoing. At the end of the investigative process, schools with classrooms guilty of impropriety will be disclosed and scores will be invalidated.

This year’s analysis resulted in 35 (0.82%) classrooms being identified for further investigation out of 4,279 classrooms administering the DC CAS.

“The call for total transparency and accuracy demanded that we take the time to bring in an independent agency to put to rest any amount of suspicion regarding our student’s performance,” explained Hosanna Mahaley, State Superintendent of Education.

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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A couple of graphs on DCPS and DC Charter School Populations

A few preliminary results from the yesterday’s released DC-CAS data:

(1) The very fast rise in the charter-school population in DC seems to have nearly stopped at about 36% of the entire publicly-funded school population that is counted by DC-CAS.

(2) The population of DC public schools seems to be going up a little bit, BUT

(3) Most of that rise seems to be in the 10th grade, and we know for a fact that administrators “game” the 10th grade tests by sometimes holding students back in the 9th grade until they appear to be ready to pass the 10th grade; or else, they sometimes skip them over the 10th grade completely so they don’t have to take the test.

Published in: on August 3, 2011 at 11:46 am  Comments (4)  
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More Problems With DCPS Curriculum and DC-CAS

Upon taking a closer look at the DCPS standards and the DC-CAS, I submit that they should probably both be ignored by any teacher who actually wants to do right by students. If you are doing a good job teaching the things that students should actually know, it won’t make much difference on their DC-CAS scores. Conversely, if you teach to the DC-CAS, you are short-changing your students.

Case in point: Standards in Geometry and Algebra 1 ostensibly covered on the 10th grade DC-CAS. Recall that all 10th graders at this point in DCPS have supposedly finished and passed Algebra 1, and are enrolled in at least Geometry by 10th grade.

I have prepared a little chart giving the standards (or learning objectives) for Geometry: the ones listed in the DCPS list of learning standards, and the number of questions that I found on the page of released DC-CAS questions that supposedly address that standard. There is almost no correlation at all. In fact, if you threw a dart at the topics and chose them randomly, you would do a better job than the test-writing company did.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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