At long last, a 90-90-90 school right here in DC !

My title has nothing to do with a walnut — or is it just “nut”? — who is trying to run for President.

Instead, it has been claimed by some that there are quite a few schools wherein 90% or more of the students are poor, 90% or more of them are black or Latino, yet 90% or more of these same students score at the very highest proficiency levels on official competency tests. Thus, 90-90-schools.

The fact that nobody seemed to be able to produce an actual list of such schools didn’t diminish the true believers’ faith. Their belief was that any school could accomplish this miracle if only it was staffed with brand-new, inexperienced teachers who had “snap”. “Snap” is a term popularized by Richard Whitmire, the fawning biographer of Michelle Rhee.

Well, I found a 90-90-90 school, right here in DC!

Twenty-one out of 22 students, or about 95%, of the kids there who took the DC-CAS are Black or Latino, according to OSSE-NCLB data.

The same fraction is “Economically Disadvantaged”.

Now, guess what fraction is officially at the VERY HIGHEST LEVEL on the DC-CAS, namely “Advanced”, in Reading in 2011?

Not just 21/22.

No, all 100% of the students are in the “Advanced” category.

Both in reading and in math!

There is no elite public school in the city – not even in upper NW – that has ever reached those numbers. No charter school comes near.

Mind you, this is a special education school. If it’s anything like Sharpe, a lot of these kids have multiple handicaps, including physical ones.

At the Mamie D. Lee special education school, in case you were wondering, the staff administers the test VERY differently than is done in normal schools. But somehow, I kinda doubt these numbers. Just because some of them look a bit like Dr. Steven Hawking doesn’t necessarily mean they are as smart as him…

In fact, let me quote from the principal of the school:

School Mission

  • The Mamie D. Lee School community will promote excellence in instruction and student achievement by providing a comprehensive educational program, emphasizing a collaborative approach, thereby meeting the needs and interests of students with mental retardation, thus ensuring an equal opportunity for success, independence, and productivity in our society.
  • This school is best known for its stellar Vocational Program
  • Special education programs designed specifically for students with language or speech impairment, limited intellectual functioning and multiple disabilities.
  • 91-100% of students receive special education services.

If 100% of the students at a school for students who are mentally retarded and have limited intellectual functioning, and/or other disabilities, are scoring “advanced” on the DC-CAS, I suggest that there is something wrong with how the test was administered.

So, now do you believe in 90-90-90 schools, or are you a reactionary?

(Anybody like to comment on this?)

Published in: on December 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Your post was sent out 12 hours beforeI write this comment.With results like that, I’d bet none of the students had their hands on the tests. It’s amazing that no DC school administrator noticed this miracle and sent in the fire fighters before the place could spontaneously ignite. I’ve always believed that public schools could be improved bit your story shows us how hard a task it will be.


  2. I can’t believe they still call students “mentally retarded”.


    • “Limited intellectual functioning” and what used to be called “mental retardation” are the same thing. I thought everyone called it “having a cognitive disability” these days.


      • One of the weird things about education is that it appears to be mandatory for folks to use the latest jargon / terminology. If you use the old version, then you are considered to be retarded. Sorry, inferior. Sorry, having a cognitive disability. Sorry, behind the times. No, just plain evil and stupid.


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