Real Data on NAEP scores in DC over the past 20 years

I would like to remind you that Michelle Rhee’s and Richard Whitmire’s claims that she single-handedly boosted the NAEP scores in DCPS, way in excess of anything that happened previously, are bogus.

Michelle Rhee and Richard Whitmire aren’t left with very much to brag about concerning her supposed accomplishments in DCPS.

  • The ‘Capital Gains’ project was a total failure – even according to the data provided by Harvard professor/entrepreneur Roland Fryer (who has also run a massive randomized experiment in NYC showing that paying teachers money for higher student test scores was counterproductive)
  • Bringing in an outside agency to run Dunbar SHS was a total failure
  • The situation with the least-trained, least-experienced teachers staffing most of the roughest, lowest-income schools in DCPS is worse now than ever
  • The situation with special education is the usual mess
  • There are more central-office employees than ever, and they make more money than ever
  • It’s clear that the enormous sums she spent on consultants haven’t done a damned thing
  • The teachers are totally demoralized
  • Real teaching has been replaced by 100% test-prep, all the time
  • The method that her favorite principals employed to raise test scores involved simple cheating: long hours of meticulous erasing of wrong answers, after the students and teachers had left the buildings

So let’s look at a few graphs of how NAEP scores have changed over the past 20 or so years, so you can see for yourself whether the 3 years of Rhee made much of a difference.

First, please look at a graph of the average 4th grade DCPS ‘Scale Scores’ on the Math NAEP:

As you can see, they have been rising more-or-less steadily since about 1996.

Next, look at a graph showing the percentage of students “Basic” or above (which really does mean ON GRADE LEVEL)  and “Proficient” or above (which really does mean ABOVE GRADE LEVEL) in math since about 1992. Again, you can see that these percentages have been pretty steadily rising since about 1996. Once again, SuperWoman’s presence apparently didn’t make a huge change.

Next, let’s look at the average scale score for DCPS 8th graders on the NAEP reading test:

Here the record doesn’t go back as far, but besides the drop in 2003 and 2005, the overall trend has been upwards.

I’ll post a few more graphs tomorrow. Right now, I am too tired to keep going.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. As always Guy, great job.
    One big I noticed about the Bee Eater is the absence of Brian Betts.
    He was the posterboy in the summer of 2009, the rock star principal lured from Montgomery County.

    That summer, Rhee lied to Jay Mathews of the Post and John Merrow of PBS’s Learning Matters, and told them the scores at Betts’ school Shaw Middle, went up.

    As efavorite noticed, the scores in fact went down.
    efavorite got Merrow to issue a correction on this point.


    • Good point. Betts was given tons of extra resources, and the fact that he had a reckless propensity to hire anonymous young men/boys for sex (which eventually got him murdered) was ignored. But he could do no wrong according to Rhee — and as you point out, despite all of the extra resources, the scores at Shaw indeed went down.

      Another Rhee initiative that was totally ignored in Whitmire’s book was the “Capital Gains” program, which Rhee ballyhooed as one of her greatest initiatives. If you’ve forgotten about it, it’s because this experiment to get DCPS middle-school kids to do the right thing by paying them ended up being a total failure, and was therefore swept under the rug and ignored. When I asked Whitmire about this discrepancy at Politics and Prose, he essentially denied that it even existed.


  2. Guy I hope you dig into the details by subgroup. The last NAEP boosts were illusory and when broken up by sub-group there wasn’t an increase, the overall increase was based on an increase in the percentage of test takers that were in better performing subgroups. We also should see if we can get info on which schools were tested. Langdon was in the schools tested and is the best performing title 1 school in the city. Which kids are tested can really skew the results.

    On Capital Gains, it was also sad that this was even tried. There was good scholarship before we ran this program that kids that get money incentives like these can outperform kids not getting them, but when you remove the cash bonuses their performance goes down.


  3. […] 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 […]


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