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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“Michelle Rhee” is to “Data” as “Counterfeiter” is to “Dollar Bill”

There are very few public figures who have a looser connection with the truth, with facts, and with data, than Michelle Rhee.

(In plain English: I think she is a major liar and distorter. There is not an educational statistic that she won’t twist.)

But she’s coming to DC next week as a featured panel member of something called the Data Quality Campaign, along with Arne Duncan, another educational DEformer who is unfortunately head of the US Education Department. The event details are here: it takes place 1:30 to 5pm at the Renaissance Washington Hotel next Wednesday 1-18-2012 on the south edge of Mount Vernon Square here in DC. It appears that the panel will advocate national, multiple-choice testing for all students in all grade levels and for all subjects in all months of the year and firing and paying teachers and making all educational policy based on those results.

A dumber idea than that is hard to imagine. It also is a huge waste of many billions of dollars — money that will go to just a handful of enormous testing-and-publishing companies. These funds will be lost forever to local schools and school districts, parents, teachers, and students, and will instead go to enrich some of the 1% who run this country.

I think it would be a great thing if some folks went there and showed the public that there are a number of people who think that Rhee is a propagandist for untruth, and that there are few things less useful for teachers and students than making educational policy based on stupid, nationally-composed multiple-choice tests and being locked into a national curriculum. (Don’t laugh: they even just now came out with national standards for sex education. I am not making that up.)

Registration is free: use this link.

Rhee has an amazingly long history of distortions; where I first found my jaw dropping was when I read her resume, where she claimed to have been in the Wall Street Journal and on TV during the mid-1990’s when she was a TFA temporary teacher in a for-profit charter school experiment that failed in Baltimore. When she claimed that she took an entire elementary school class from below the 20th percentile to above the 90th percentile on a nationally-normed test, I simply could not believe it. Nobody in history has ever accomplished anything like that without some sort of fakery.

Sure enough, when I later found a careful study on that failed educational experiment, my suspicions were confirmed. No such miracle happened at all at Rhee’s school (Harlem Park ES) or in her grade. What happened instead was that Rhee’s grade instead had an inordinate number of kids who scored at a “1” level, meaning that their scores were so low that they simply weren’t counted. As a consequence, I conclude, the average of the scores of the remaining students had a modest increase. The lead analyst for the UMBC study agreed with the conclusions I drew. Rick Hess of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, a personal friend of Rhee, predictably disagreed.

As you also may have heard, Rhee promoted Wayne Ryan, the principal of Noyes, based on what proved to be utterly fallacious, doctored increases in student scores at that school. (Ryan was allowed or “encouraged” to quietly resign after the news of the cheating came out, but that was after Rhee quit when her patron, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost an election because she earned the hatred of most of the electorate in Washington, DC. You can see a good summary of much of Rhee’s record at RheeFirst. I uncovered a fair amount of her lies and distortions in the pages of this blog. (BTW thanks to WordPress, this blog has a pretty good search engine if you want to look stuff up; it’s at the upper right-hand corner of this page.)

Anybody interested in making a stink at this conference? Anybody else interested in pointing out that there is another way (or many other ways) of improving education in America?

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 10:35 am  Comments (1)  
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The Wicked Witch Ain’t Dead. She ain’t even gone.

The Sarah Palin of American Education

Congratulations to Nathan Saunders for unseating George Parker.

I hope that Saunders becomes an effective advocate for progressive, integrated, fair, free and public universal education.

Published in: on December 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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