8th Grade TUDA NAEP Reading Results Also Show No Miracles Under Rhee, Henderson et al.

This post concerns the 8th grade NAEP TUDA reading scores for DC and other large cities.  As you may recall, according to Michelle Rhee’s authorized biographer and friend, here is how Rhee claims she could tell if an applicant for a principal position was good enough:

“What’s good to Rhee? If they arrived at their previous school with 20 percent of students reading on grade level and when they left, the number was 70 percent.” (page 132 of The Bee Eater)

Also recall what Rhee claimed to have done in Baltimore: “Over a two-year period, moved students scoring at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.”

Keep that standard in mind when you see these graphs and tables.

First, where are DCPS students right now, after more than 4 years of Rhee/Henderson’s “radical reformist” regime? Way down near the bottom of the pack as measured by percentages of students “below basic”, according to NAEP:

But, you say, surely that pitiful figure of 54% of 8th graders reading on a “below basic” level has been getting better under Rhee and Henderson? Guess again, or else look at this graph for DCPS 8th grade reading results over time, and you will see that just the opposite is true, since it’s now worse than in 2002, 2003, 2007, or even 2009:

Now let’s look at those trends in DC again. As you can see, NAEP TUDA 8th grade reading scores are, in fact, slightly LOWER in 2011 than they have been AT ANY TIME while the TUDA study has been going on:

You can see also that while the scores for higher-income kids dropped in 2011, the gap between the richer and poorer students widened by quite a lot in 2009, and is unchanged in 2011 (in both years, it’s 31 points, as opposed to 15 to 21 points during the earlier years).

And let’s look at the gaps between scores of various ethnic groups in DC over time at the 8th grade reading level:

In the graph above, we lack a lot of scores for white students for many years, simply because there were not enough white DCPS students tested at those points in time to satisfy statistical reporting requirements. However, it is clear that the arrival of the protegees of Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg has NOT benefited any of the 8th grade groups shown: not Hispanic students, not Black students, and not White students.

You might be thinking, “Well, perhaps these gaps are bad in DC, but they are worse elsewhere?”

Pretty much, NO. There are only two cities with larger 8th grade reading achievement gaps between the rich and the poor on the NAEP: Austin and Fresno.

Now let’s look at the gap between scores of white and black 8th graders in various cities, below. As you can see, DC’s gap (circled) is by far the widest such gap: 58 points.

And for Hispanics and whites?

(/sarcasm on) We beat Fresno and Austin! Yippee! DC has the biggest gap! (/sarcasm off)

Published in: on December 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. While I appreciate this extensive data meant to prove a point, sometimes I’d like to see a more comprehensive picture of what is going on in both the cities and students’ lives. What is the correlated crime rate, economic data, unemployment, etc? What’s going on in the student’s life on test day?

    When I pitched in for a class in a low income area as an Emergency Substitute for 1/2 year, I was told that my test scores had risen, and it was implied that I was the reason for the improvement. As I had basically spent the bulk of my time on classroom management, and attempted teaching English against all odds, (with a variety of mixed methods, none of which I thought were working) I honestly didn’t think I had all that much effect. On test day, there is a lot more going on in students’ lives than just the test: sleep, nutrition, immediate family situations, circadian rhythms, etc. Don’t these basically unmeasurable factors count?

    I also think that while continuing to prove other educators wrong is par for the course in this profession, and it’s frustrating for newcomers who want to figure out who and what to follow in order to best contribute. Must I take sides?


  2. You have been nominated for the “Versatile Blog Award”.

    Please visit here: http://theassailedteacher.com/2011/12/19/versatile-blogger-award/


  3. It was obvious to me as a resident of the NE side of Washington DC that Rhee had a clear preference for providing qulity programs in the NW quadrant of the city while simply closing down schools in other parts of the city. Her clear goal was charters for black and brown children and she made sure that DCPS began to provide less and less. in NE,SE and SW,

    What is happening is really no more complicated than the purposeful undermining of quality education of many to benefit narrow and elitist agenda of Reformers who are beholden to their narrow national agenda rather than residents of the city who pay their salary.

    Thus under Rhee/Henderson we’ve received a lot of lip service and very little real substance. The NAEP scores say it all loud and clear,
    I’m glad my son will be in high school next year and heading out of the DC school system.Personally I’m fed up with people pimping children for their own personal gain..


  4. Reading this complaint about analysis of Rhee’s “legacy”, http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2011/12/dcps-you-cant-really-weigh-rhees-reign-wo-charters.html,
    he brings out that charters were dropped from TUDA in 2009.
    If so, I wonder if the DCPS scores you pulled reflect the shift of students to charters.
    Regardless, in the end, Rhee did not have a positive effect on test score growth.


  5. A through analysis of Rhee’ legacy, What I got is that the ethnic background and low family income are the major causes for lower scores, often.


    • No school has to my knowledge in the US been able to completely counteract the close correlation between socioeconomic status and school achievement. Lots of attempts have been made; some progress has been made. Whatever it is that Rhee and company have done in DC, that gap as not at all narrowed right now in DC. For whatever reason, that gap here in DC is steadily widening, as measured in lots and lots of ways (i have lots of such graphs on my blot) the longer Rhee’s legacy remains in command.
      It’s frightening how counterproductive her trend has been.


  6. Hey, where is asian? Asian is smarter than white. White is not really smart.


    • The reason I didn’t include Asian-and-Pacific-Islanders students in DC is that there are so few of them; same reason for not including Native Americans (‘Indian’) or migrant students.
      Despite the fact that your comment seems to me sounds quite racist, facts and economics are stubborn. The “white” (pinkish, really) population of DC is on the average very highly educated and has a relatively high income level. Look it up yourself on the NAEP and TUDA results and you will discover that the white population of students in Washington DC has the highest scores of any such subgroup anywhere in the entire USA. Many of our Asian students in DC are very recent immigrants, and their parents may or may not have had much education back home.
      I believe that all people are very smart, regardless of ethnicity etc — just in different ways.


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