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!

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/

Trends in DC on the NAEP for 4th grade reading, black students only: regular DCPS, charter schools, and pre- and post-Rhee

Here is a graph showing how African-American 4th students have been doing over time in Washington DC public schools and charter schools. I have drawn a clear dividing line at year 2008, because the scores before that were under the influence of DC’s former school board and superintendents. After that time, DC has been under a chancellor answerable only to the mayor.

dc, dcps, dc charter, and national naep trends, 4th grade reading to 2013You may notice that the blue, black and purple lines separate after 2007. That’s because NAEP began reporting separate scores for DC’s regular public schools and for all publicly-supported schools, though not for the charter schools as a bloc. As a result, you have to do a little bit of linear algebra to calculate what the average scales were for the charter schools from 2009 onwards. (I used essentially the same equation that I did in the previous post. Please write me a note if you think I made an error.)

As usual, we can see that since the late 1990s and up until Rhee took over, the overall trend in all large cities, in the nation’s public schools, and in DC’s publicly-supported schools was upwards on this test. (Yes, I know, these are not scores that follow the same kids year after year, but for whatever reason, the group of kids answering these tests are in general getting more answers right every two years.) Before that, i.e. from 1992 to 1998, scores bounced around or went down.

After Rhee took over, those scores seem to have entered another bouncy period. In fact, in DCPS, the scores on this test in 2013 were only back up to the level of 2007. There is a clear demarcation between the scores in the charter schools (blue line) and the regular public schools. The line for the charter schools seems to follow the trend from 1998 to 2007.

If I knew nothing about the politics of EduDeform, I would wonder why the WaPo editorial board is claiming victory.

 

 

Trends in DC’s regular public schools and charter schools: 4th grade math NAEP, TUDA

I continue here in showing you the results of my calculations for how the charter school students and regular public school students in Washington, DC have been faring on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, since the 1990s.

Some of my previous columns were quite simple: I just cut and pasted graphs from the NAEP and NAEP TUDA results, or asked the built-in software for how white, black, hispanic, special education, or free/reduced-price-lunch kids did at the 4th and 8th grade in math and reading.

If you look at my previous graphs, you will notice that, on the whole, the trends AFTER 2007, when Michelle Rhee was installed as the very first DC chancellor, looked just about the same as the trends BEFORE that date.

Today, I did a little math to figure out how black fourth-grade charter school students did in math in DC, in comparison with their counterparts in other large cities, in the nation as a whole, and in the regular DC public schools.

The math goes like this: I figure that the DC state weighted average for any given group or grade level (say, 4th grade African-American students taking the math NAEP) equals the weighted average for regular DCPS at that grade level, times the enrollment at that grade level, plus the product of the charter school weighted average score at that grade level and the charter school enrollment at that grade level; all of that divided by the total enrollment.

Or, if Q = DC state average. and R = DC regular public school weighted average, and V = DC regular public school enrollment, and S = DC charter school weighted average, and W = DC charter school enrollment, and X = V + W = total enrollment in publicly-funded schools in DC, both regular and charter, then

Q = (R*V + S * W) / X

And since I could find everything except S in the literature, then I could simply solve for S. My result:

S = (X*Q – R*V)/W.

And here are my results:

dc, dcps, charters, national - black 4th graders, math, naep, 1996-2013

 

My conclusions?

For black students at the 4th grade in math, the post-Rhee trends in the charter schools are about the same as the trends in DC public schools were BEFORE Rhee was appointed. However, it looks like the trends overall in the regular public schools seem a bit worse.

If past trends had continued, and Michelle Rhee had not become chancellor, the overall educational results might have been very similar to what they are today — inequalities and inequities of course included, because we have lots of that here in Washington, DC.

By the way, if anyone finds a mistake in my work, please let me know by leaving a comment.

What I actually had time to say …

Since I had to abbreviate my remarks, here is what I actually said:

I am Guy Brandenburg, retired DCPS mathematics teacher.

To depart from my text, I want to start by proposing a solution: look hard at the collaborative assessment model being used a few miles away in Montgomery County [MD] and follow the advice of Edwards Deming.

Even though I personally retired before [the establishment of the] IMPACT [teacher evaluation system], I want to use statistics and graphs to show that the Value-Added measurements that are used to evaluate teachers are unreliable, invalid, and do not help teachers improve instruction. To the contrary: IVA measurements are driving a number of excellent, veteran teachers to resign or be fired from DCPS to go elsewhere.

Celebrated mathematician John Ewing says that VAM is “mathematical intimidation” and a “modern, mathematical version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.”

I agree.

One of my colleagues was able to pry the value-added formula [used in DC] from [DC data honcho] Jason Kamras after SIX MONTHS of back-and-forth emails. [Here it is:]

value added formula for dcps - in mathtype format

One problem with that formula is that nobody outside a small group of highly-paid consultants has any idea what are the values of any of those variables.

In not a single case has the [DCPS] Office of Data and Accountability sat down with a teacher and explained, in detail, exactly how a teacher’s score is calculated, student by student and class by class.

Nor has that office shared that data with the Washington Teachers’ Union.

I would ask you, Mr. Catania, to ask the Office of Data and Accountability to share with the WTU all IMPACT scores for every single teacher, including all the sub-scores, for every single class a teacher has.

Now let’s look at some statistics.

My first graph is completely random data points that I had Excel make up for me [and plot as x-y pairs].

pic 3 - completely random points

Notice that even though these are completely random, Excel still found a small correlation: r-squared was about 0.08 and r was about 29%.

Now let’s look at a very strong case of negative correlation in the real world: poverty rates and student achievement in Nebraska:

pic  4 - nebraska poverty vs achievement

The next graph is for the same sort of thing in Wisconsin:

pic 5 - wisconsin poverty vs achievement

Again, quite a strong correlation, just as we see here in Washington, DC:

pic 6 - poverty vs proficiency in DC

Now, how about those Value-Added scores? Do they correlate with classroom observations?

Mostly, we don’t know, because the data is kept secret. However, someone leaked to me the IVA and classroom observation scores for [DCPS in] SY 2009-10, and I plotted them [as you can see below].

pic 7 - VAM versus TLF in DC IMPACT 2009-10

I would say this looks pretty much no correlation at all. It certainly gives teachers no assistance on what to improve in order to help their students learn better.

And how stable are Value-Added measurements [in DCPS] over time? Unfortunately, since DCPS keeps all the data hidden, we don’t know how stable these scores are here. However, the New York Times leaked the value-added data for NYC teachers for several years, and we can look at those scores to [find out]. Here is one such graph [showing how the same teachers, in the same schools, scored in 2008-9 versus 2009-10]:

pic 8 - value added for 2 successive years Rubenstein NYC

That is very close to random.

How about teachers who teach the same subject to two different grade levels, say, fourth-grade math and fifth-grade math? Again, random points:

pic 9 - VAM for same subject different grades NYC rubenstein

One last point:

Mayor Gray and chancellors Henderson and Rhee all claim that education in DC only started improving after mayoral control of the schools, starting in 2007. Look for yourself [in the next two graphs].

pic 11 - naep 8th grade math avge scale scores since 1990 many states incl dc

 

pic 12 naep 4th grade reading scale scores since 1993 many states incl dc

Notice that gains began almost 20 years ago, long before mayoral control or chancellors Rhee and Henderson, long before IMPACT.

To repeat, I suggest that we throw out IMPACT and look hard at the ideas of Edwards Deming and the assessment models used in Montgomery County.

Latest NAEP Results

The NAEP is our only nation-wide, systematic, long-term test of what students in elementary, middle, and high school know how to do. The 2013 NAEP results were released yesterday. I have begun to do a bit of number-crunching and would like to share what I’ve found.

First of all, the increases in some of the scores in DC (my home town) are a continuation of a trend that has been going on since about 2000. As a result of those increases, DC’s fourth grade math students, while still dead last in the nation, have nearly caught up with MISSISSIPPI, the lowest-scoring state in the US.

You will have to strain your imagination to see any huge differences between the trends pre-Rhee and post-Rhee. (She was installed after testing was over in 2007.)

average scores in NAEP math 4th grade national by jurisdictions 1992-2013

Another important point is that we don’t know how much of these increases are due to improvements in regular public schools, in the charter schools, or in the private schools — data from all three groups of students are included.

And Gary Rubenstein does his usual excellent job, which you can see here

He looked at 4th grade AND 8th grade math and reading for DC and elsewhere. DC is still dead last in just about every respect, and has BY FAR the largest gap between the poor and the non-poor.

So, the Educational DEforms instituted by Rhee, Henderson, and their corporate masters have not produced the promised miracles.

Published in: on November 8, 2013 at 7:04 am  Comments (7)  
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More on Poverty and Segregation in DC Publicly-Funded Schools

According to the educational DEformers who have seldom (or ever) tried to teach in an inner-city or rural poverty-stricken, segregated school, all one needs to do in order to ‘smash’ the ‘achievement gap’ is to fire all the veteran, unionized teachers and hire new and inexperienced but somehow ‘excellent’ college grads, close the old ‘failing’ schools, and all will be peaches and cream and light and wonderfulness.

In DC, nearly half of all students now attend charter schools.

Many of those schools remain completely segregated both by class and by race, as I have shown, just as many of the regular public schools were (and are).

Well, how do these new charter schools do?

Actually, not very much better. Certainly the millennium has not come.

I present to you three graphs that I made using the stats released by DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education. On the x-axis, I added the rate of poverty and the rate of segregation to produce an index that goes from 0% (impossibly un-segregated with 100 or more equally-represented ethnic groups and no kids on free and reduced-price lunch) to 200% (which means 100% black and/or hispanic and 100% eligible for free or reduced-price lunch).

On the y-axis I graphed the average of the ‘pass’ rates in math and reading.

You will see that an enormous number of schools line up on the far right-hand edge of the graph. Those are the high-poverty, highly segregated schools. Only a very small fraction of schools (both regular public and charter) are anything else.

This graph is for ALL publicly-funded schools, both regular and charter:

poverty segregation and average dc-cas proficiency rate - 2013

 

Notice that the linear correlation between segregation & poverty on the one hand, and average achievement on the other, is fairly strong and negative. R-squared is 0.49, which means that the correlation coefficient R is about 0.7.

Next, let’s look at just the DC public schools:

poverty seg + avge dccas prof - regular dc public schools only

 

You will notice that the correlation is a bit higher: R-squared is 0.62, which means that R itself is nearly 0.8. Most of the high-poverty and high-segregation schools have proficiency rates between 10% and 55%.

And now let’s look at the same graph for the DC charter schools:

poverty seg + avge dccas prof - charter schools only

 

To their credit, the charter schools do appear to have a weaker correlation between my poverty&segregation index and test scores. R-squared is about 0.29, which means that R is a bit more than 0.5.

Do the charter schools seem to have some magic bullet, so that all of the schools with segregation & poverty indices of 190% or more are all scoring at the top of the charts? No way. The cluster of schools at the far right-hand end of this graph still score fairly low: between 18% and 65%, instead of between 10% and 55%.

Of course, we don’t exactly know how that happens. A difference that small can easily be obtained by rejecting incomplete applications and pushing out certain students.

You also can see that there are essentially NO charter schools with average proficiency rates over 85%, but there are ten such regular public schools.

If there are any requests to see my spreadsheet, I’ll post it as a Google Doc. Just post a comment. (Sorry, the comments button is really tiny and hard to see, but it’s under this text on your screen.)

 

A close look at a speech from Michelle Rhee

It is useful to look at the lies coming out of the mouth of Michelle Rhee, one of the main proponents of destroying public education. I just took down, verbatim, what Rhee said at a panel discussion chaired by Henry Louis Gates at Martha’s Vineyard in 2011. (Diane Ravitch was also on the panel.) How many lies, prevarications, and half-truths can you spot?

Here is the passage, starting at 11:22 on this Youtube video where MR is speaking her platitudes:

We as educators have not created a great case for ourselves. We have more than doubled the amount of money that we are spending per child over the last two [few? gfb] decades, and the results have not gotten better. Now if we had doubled the expenditures and the results had doubled as well, then that would have made a very easy case for us to go to politicians and say “If you cut our budget by this much then this is what will suffer,” but we haven’t done that. And you have school districts like Washington, DC and Newark where they are spending $22,000 a year per child, and the results are absolutely in the bottom of this nation. So we’re, it, it, to me the first order of operation is less about more money because I think that more money into a broken system is not going to deliver a different result. I think we have to change the fundamentals of how this system is working. I think we have had lots of conversations today about how to try to do that. But I think we need a fundamentally different system first before we can go and make a case to the taxpayers and other people about putting more money into it.

In fact, as I have shown repeatedly, there are a number of areas in which achievement in public education has gotten way, way better over the past few decades. NAEP scores in general are way, way up: black students today are scoring above where white students were scoring back then. Also, if you look at the growth in passing Advanced Placement scores over the past few decades, well, yes, we have way more than doubled the numbers!

passing + failing numbers of AP exams 1991-2011

If you look at the PIRLS comparisons of American and international students, our kids did rather well, as I showed here.

PIRLS 4th grade benchmarks reading by nation

Even DC NAEP scores have been going up pretty steadily for 20 years, as I showed in this post, and here, and elsewhere, but the black-white gap on those scores in DCPS got wider while Michelle Rhee was in charge.

Not a word of recognition that RHEE HERSELF WAS IN CHARGE OF DCPS while the black-white gap got to be #1 in the nation!!

Not a word of acknowledgement that Rhee, herself, rammed through all those enormous budget increases for central office 20-something failed ex-TFAers, for high-priced consultants, for a completely incomprehensible and untested Value-Added system for evaluating teachers, for poisoned bonuses for cheating teachers and principals, for lots more testing and fees to testing companies, and for other failed experiments like “Capital Gains”.

Things got politically hot in Washington DC for Rhee right before she gave this speech, since a majority of the population of DC thought that her ideas were toxic and counterproductive, so her benefactor (Fenty) lost, so she quit — to go on to make millions of dollars per year giving speeches at $50K per prattle, and through untraceable and unaccountable tax-exempt donations from the very tiny group of billionaires who are running public education today.

Those huge sums of money that Rhee wheedled out of politicians and billionaires didn’t go to students. They went to adults like Rhee!

Another point: I don’t think the main complaint is that schools and teachers aren’t getting enough money. The big problem is what we are doing with that cash: we are wasting it on paying huge sums of money to large corporations for idiotic and useless multiple-choice tests, on gimmicky and unproven high-tech schemes that make huge bucks for corporations, on consultants, and on high-priced experts and ‘coaches’. And on gimmicky charter schools that mostly do worse than the normal private schools. And on demonizing teachers.

Published in: on June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm  Comments (10)  
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Part 2: DCPS and DC charter school enrollments, 2011-2013

Let’s now look at what happened to the enrollment in the ordinary DC public schools, and in the charter schools, separately, over the same period (sy 2001/2 through sy 2012/13), so far.

Here is OSSE’s somewhat misleading graph for the regular DC public school system:

Once again, they are using a vertical scale that doesn’t go to zero, which exaggerates the amount of change. Just looking at the height of the bars, you might think that in 2010, there were only half as many students as in 2002. But that is definitely not the case: it was only a drop of about 32%. That’s serious, but not the same as a 50% drop.

Here is the same data, reformatted by me:

Here, the height of the bars is proportional to the enrollment. And you can see that in the years after 2008, there has been very little change one way or the other in the enrollment of regular DC public schools.

Now let’s compare that with the enrollment in the DC charter schools, which has seen a steady and dramatic increase. For once, the OSSE graph is NOT misleading!!!

The reason that the last blue bar on the right is over three times as tall as the first bar on the left is that, in fact, the charter school population during the current year (2012-13) is in fact nearly three and a half times as much as the charter school population was in 2001-2. That is explosive growth!

Now let’s look at market share, so to speak. What percentage of the students attending publicly-funded pre-K-12 schools in DC are going to regular public schools and what percentage are attending charter schools? The following graph, prepared by me, lets you see just that:

If you follow the trends, it would appear that in a few years, there will be more students in “public” charter schools in DC than in the regular public schools.

Reactions from our public officials? A quote from Mayor Vincent Gray: “One of the strongest indicators that our school system is improving is a steady increase in enrollment numbers – an increase I’m proud to see we have once again achieved,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “This marks the largest enrollment increase in the District’s public schools in 45 years.”

Again, factually correct, but rather an exaggeration. He and his superintendent of schools appear to starve regular DCPS classrooms, enlarge an already bloated and overpaid central office bureaucracy, while funneling cash via foundations to the charter schools. DC now has a larger percentage of its school-age population in charter schools than any other city except for Katrina-battered New Orleans, which mostly means that DCPS central administration remains utterly incompetent at running a school system.

Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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A Look at population trends in DC’s school population

I’m going my best to play it straight.

In the following fiew posts I will try to give you a clear look at how the publicly-funded student enrollment in Washington, DC has been trending over the past decade or so.

I’ll then make a few predictions of how I think things will continue in the next few years.

And then make some judgments on what these records mean.

I think that graphs are often one of the very easiest ways to make things clear, but as Darrell Huff wrote a long time ago in a classic work called “How to Lie With Statistics“, you can still use them in many ways to mislead if you want to.

Here is the very first graph given by DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education, or OSSE:

Looks like a huge jump, right? Maybe the latest enrollment is about twice as much as it was at its low point just after Rhee got here to save the day in 2008, right?

No.

It’s not such a huge jump.

And it’s for the regular DC public schools combined with the DC charter schools (privately run tho funded by taxpayers). Not just DCPS, which I’ll look at in a subsequent blog.

The scale is really misleading. The total population is in fact increasing, but (a) most of it seems to have occurred after Rhee left, and (b) from the current high of 80,854 from a nadir of 70,922 is only a 14% increase, or about one-seventh, not a doubling of population.

One’s eye wouldn’t trick one so if one used a scale that went all the way to zero on the vertical axis. (BTW, this is precisely one of Huff’s methods of lying with statistics!) So here is what I think is a fairer way to represent the data, with a scale that goes from 0 to 90,000.

You can see that over the past decade or so, there was a modest drop, followed by a modest rise. These are NOT huge changes, folks!

Is there something special and weird going on? Not really. The population of DC is rebounding somewhat, as well. Take a look at this graph prepared by Google and the US Census Bureau, not by me:

I hope it’s not a surprise that the school enrollment numbers and the total DC population of all ages do not move in lockstep! But, as a general rule, if you get more adults, they have a mysterious way of making babies, and those little’uns eventually do grow up and go to school somewhere!

Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 11:49 am  Comments (2)  
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