Please note that it was the TESTING COMPANY ITSELF that found all of these erasures over the past three years to be suspicious. They informed the State Superintendent of Education, who has exactly zero power in DC, so she asked Rhee and Henderson and their underlings to investigate. The latter group, naturally, stonewalled, and hushed the whole thing up.
As jaded and as cynical as some of you might think I am, I had no earthly idea that this evident fraud was so widespread. Naturally, Michelle Rhee has now said that she thinks that the USA Today investigation itself is an “insult” to teachers and students. I disagree. I think that everything that Michelle Rhee has done since she quit teaching in Baltimore has been an insult to parents, teachers, students, and honest administrators.
I think that the DC Inspector General’s office needs to investigate this fully and to indict the leaders who caused this fraud to happen.
There was a time that the IG office actually did their job and investigated serious crimes and official misdemeanors in DC; but apparently those days are over. In Atlanta, the investigation was far-reaching and has revealed widespread corruption. See this, this, this, and this. The way they got the ‘goods’ on the higher-ups was the usual: low-level teachers and counselors who did the cheating under orders or threats were offered immunity in exchange for truthful testimony.
Here is a link to the USA Today article. Lots of tables!
Is your school on the list?
By the way, classes were “flagged” as suspicious if the number of wrong-to-right erasures on a test was four or more full standard deviations above the mean. Four standard deviations (or ‘four sigma’) is a TREMENDOUSLY HUGE increase over the normal number of such erasures. For comparison, there are typically 2 or 3 such erasures on a single student’s test.
To put it in more familiar terms, think about the average adult man’s height in the USA: about 5 feet 9.5 inches. Anybody within about 3 inches of that (taller or shorter) is within one “sigma” of the mean – and this means, statistically, that about 68% of all adult males are between 5’7″ and 6’1″ – and that includes this writer.
So, ‘one sigma’ in terms of adult US male height is about 3 inches of variation in height.
To be over four sigma higher than the mean adult height is to be a giant. Here is a little table that will allow you to look at what it means. When you look at it, also try to think about the fact that there are just about one hundred million adult males in the US. (100,000,000) So to be one of those 3,200 people who are four sigma above the mean is to be, basically, a freak of nature. And there are only 28 people who are five sigma above the mean. And there are only TWO humans in the entire WORLD (over six BILLION people) who are 6 sigma above the mean. (Source is here.)
However, in DCPS, according to the testing company that scored the DC-CAS (not according to me!) we have HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of classes where the AVERAGE number of erasures is FOUR SIGMA above the mean.
There is only one reasonable explanation for this situation.