I have a puzzle for you: Can You Spot the Baltimore-Rhee Miracle of 1993-1995?

Is Michelle Rhee a liar, or is she honest? You decide.

You remember that Michelle Rhee said that when she taught for three years in Baltimore, after a bit of a rough spot during her first year, she brought her students from the very bottom to the very top, right? If that’s true, then it should be really easy to spot those scores, especially since there were exactly TWO third-grade classes at her Baltimore school during her final year, and she says that she team-taught with the other second-grade, later third-grade, teacher during those last two years. (Or maybe there were two teachers in her class – I can’t tell from her account.) But no matter. A jump that large should be really, really obvious.

In last month’s Washingtonian Magazine, she told an interviewer:

In my second year of teaching, we took them from the bottom to the top on academics, and what I learned from that experience was these kids were getting screwed because people wanted to blame their low achievement levels on the single-parent households and on the poverty in the community. In that two-year period, none of those things changed. Their parents didn’t change.

“What changed?
“What we were doing with them in school.”

And as I pointed out in my previous post, her official resume says “Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90% of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.” (emphasis added by me)

Here comes the puzzle.

I looked up the CTBS reading scores for nine different schools in Baltimore for the period 1992 through 1995. I converted all of the CTBS NCE reading scores in the second grade for 1992, 1993, and 1994, and for the third grade in 1995 into percentile ranks, because that is the measurement that Rhee refers to. The CTBS is, as far as I can tell, the only nationally-standardized test that was given in Baltimore. The MSPAP, which was also given during at least some of those years, is a Maryland state-wide test, and so far, I haven’t found scores on the MSPAP for 1995.

Here are the graphs showing the CTBS reading scores in nine different schools (or clusters of schools) during the years Michelle Rhee claims to have worked her miracle. I included all of the seven Tesseract/EAI schools, including Harlem Park where Rhee taught, and I also included some of the regular public schools that were officially designated as comparison schools in the study that was supposed to figure out whether Edison was doing a good job or not.

I will NOT tell you which graph is Harlem Park. It’s your job to figure out which one it was.

Hint: Rhee was still in college for SY 1992. She worked at Harlem Park for SY 1993, 1994, and 1995. She taught second grade for the first two years, and then apparently followed the students into the third grade for SY 1995.

Let’s look at the graphs:

OK, boys and girls. Which school was it? A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, or I?

(No more hints today. I’ll give the identities of these schools tomorrow.)


Error notice: I noticed this morning that I had accidentally inverted the percentile ranks and NCE scores in several places, which made some of these graphs wrong and the question harder to answer. It is now fixed, but I wish I was a better proofreader. I apologize to all.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 3:04 am  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My money is on School J.


  2. Is it C? Tell us. Please. Did her appearance drop scores appreciably? And did her 3 years of experience finally start undoing the damage she had wrought?

    Why do we have to wait a whole day?

    I vote for C.

    I’ll be back tomorrow to check.



    • Wait a second – she supposedly brought her students to the VERY TOP!
      But, the facts are otherwise. Your guess is right on the money.


  3. I see a jump in school C but not to 90th, so…can’t wait to read your answer!


  4. Thank you for making this effort to expose Rhee’s (media enabled) lies.

    She is never challenged about the purported progress her students made while she had her cup of coffee teaching.

    That, and her admitted physical and emotional abuse of students (taping their mouths closed so that they bled upon removal), in a saner world would lead to her immediate shunning.


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