From my own personal experiences with the DC educational bureaucracies over the past couple of years, it appears that everything pertaining to cheating or other irregularities that might threaten the reputations or images of those in charge gets swept under the rug. No calls get returned on the topic at all. It’s all flushed out of sight, so the public will hopefully forget.
Ex-principal Ryan got promoted, with lots of publicity, because of sensational growth in student test scores at his school over time. When the USAToday investigative series showed conclusively that this “growth” was a result of long-standing, well-planned and -organized cheating by said principal, instead of students learning more, Ryan was allowed to, or was pushed to resign. Almost in secret, with the excuse given that he was pursuing other goals elsewhere…
I found out from the chief statistician at McGraw Hill CTB that this testing corporation has a whole slew of different forensic cheat-detection “packages” that they can sell to local school districts like ours. And apparently DC only purchased the one package and made the decision not to buy any other ones, even though there were lots of flagrantly suspicious cases every year.
If you have a hunch about something, but you are not sure, then you should get someone else to look at the evidence, or just look at the evidence in a different way. Common sense, right?
You shouldn’t just keep looking at the problem the same way.
In this case, DCPS or OSSE should have paid a few million or whatever it cost to have CTB McGraw Hill examine the same data using a different “package” from the publisher and have them look at all the evidence again. It’s not like looking at the data will damage the evidence (unless someone erases a lot of tapes or hard drives on purpose). I don’t think it would take a whole lot more than a few hours or days of computer time.
If the new cheat-detection comes to the same conclusion as the last one, then we can become much more confident in our judgements on cheating. Hiring Caveon is different: it’s hiring a company to whitewash the fence after the birds and pigs have crapped all over it.
It is worth repeating that as far as I can tell, DCPS has never ordered such forensic data analysis packages from the test manufacturer.
The only conclusion I can draw is that AT A MINIMUM a lot of individuals personally and collectively benefited from large scale cheating in DCPS, and also worked together to resist any inquiries that would prove cheating, as much as they could. There was no desire to seek out wrongdoing, partly because that sort of wrongdoing was precisely what gave Michelle Rhee her public reputation and a salary and speaking fees worth many millions of dollars by this point.
I also charge that some of the less widespread cheating irregularities have probably resulted in an unknown number of teachers being fired because they DIDN’T cheat. Instead, they received a class of students who had scored great on the tests the previous spring, but those scores in no way represented what the kids actually knew; their scores had been inflated by cheating. So the teacher the next year — if he or she doesn’t also cheat — is almost bound to lose his/her job, because the students’ scores will appear to tank on his/her watch. And that plummeting of test scores is about half of the evaluation…
There are a number of other nefarious conclusions one could draw, which may or my not be true, but a “cover-up” of cheating is a minimum point that I hope we all can agree on, and move from thence forwards to try to discover more details of exactly who cheated and how.
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