What About Rhee’s and Fenty’s Claim of Stopping the Decline in DCPS Population?

It looks like it’s more of the usual Rhee-and-Fenty lying propaganda. Or poppycock. Or choose your own, preferred, expletive.

When making comparisons like this, it’s best to compare apples to apples, watermelons to watermelons, and horseshoes to horseshoes. Thus, if we want to see if the population of DC public schools is going up or going down, it’s best to compare the same grades. Especially when enrollment has been recently opened up, by DC Council legislation, to a much larger population in certain other grades (namely, certain grade levels earlier than grade 1).

Well, that’s what I’ve done here. Look for yourself.

As you can see, the number of students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 in the regular public schools dropped by about another 640 students from 2009 to 2010. So much for Michelle Rhee’s claim of having stopped the hemorrhage.

In fact, under the Kanzler’s reign, the total population in the tested grades dropped by about 5,470 students, out of a total of about 26,200. That means that under her watch, She-Who-Can-Do-No-Wrong has presided over a drop of nearly 21% (my calculator says about 20.9%) in the tested population of DC public schools.

Nice going, Michelle R! (I am being sarcastic.)

I, for one, certainly hope that you keep your promise to quit once Fenty is replaced by Gray as mayor. (There, that’s my prediction for who is going to win today’s Democratic mayoral primary.) Unfortunately, that means that you will get an even bigger national stage on which to spread your pernicious ideas.


Notes on data:

Other than the caveat below, I have no reason to doubt this data. Like the other data, it’s from the NCLB-OSSE-DCPS site, and I calculated the number of students in the charter schools by subtracting the number of regular public school students from the number of kids in all publicly funded DC schools. You do have to do quite a bit of work to massage all this data into a spreadsheet. Here is the link to mine; feel free to peruse it or do what you like.

I realize that there are some students who are in neither category: those who attend out-of-town special-education boarding schools and those who are transported daily to more-local private special-education schools, all at public expense. I am hoping that their numbers are not great enough to throw off my calculations; so far I haven’t figured out where their NCLB data is hiding.

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm  Comments (4)  

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  1. For what it’s worth, this means that as the Pre-K’ers move up, DCPS enrollment will rise, so I’m not sure what your point is. Why would you choose to highlight a lagging indicator (enrollment in grades 3-10) instead of a current or leading one?

    Are you gloating that three plus years ago, before Mayoral control, that DCPS had declining numbers of new entrants? It sort of undermines your anti-Rhee arguments.


    • No. Rhee’s claim is that she’s turned around the enrollment declines in DCPS. It’s simply not true. Just like the rest of her claims.

      Also, those kids who are now 3 years old, whether or not they are enrolled in public pre-school, stay home with mom or dad or a baby-sitter, or go to a public or private or public day care center – those kids are going to turn 6 no matter what happens (barring a sudden epidemic or mass murder – both unlikely). Why you call their eventual coming-of-age-to-enroll-in-first grade or kindergarten a ‘leading indicator’, I am not sure.


      • Ok, if you agree with me that the enrollment in pre-K this year tells us (more or less) what enrollment will be in Kindergarten next year, in grade 1 in two years, Grade 2 in three years, etc. then why aren’t you seeing that it’s a leading indicator of future enrollment?

        A leading indicator means that if DCPS enrollment increases, it will first show up in the entry grade, i.e. entry grade enrollment will show a greater percentage increase before total enrollment.

        If you truncate the grades included in the calculation by only including tested grades, you will get a lagged indicator, because the entry grade is not included. A lagged indicator means that it tells us more about what happened three or four years ago than what has happening since then.

        An examples of a leading indicators of a building recession is architect billings.

        An example of a lagged indicator of a building recession is new construction deliveries.

        Now do you understand why it’s not very interesting to focus on just enrollment in tested grades?


      • Yes, I understand the concept reasonably well. However, I disagree.


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