Double-Digit Increases and Decreases in NCLB Pass Rates: Real or Fraudulent?

A lot of DC public and charter schools have had a lot of double-digit year-to-year changes in their published proficiency rates from 2008 through 2012.

Of course, that sort of change may be entirely innocent, and even praiseworthy if it’s in a positive direction and is the result of better teaching methods. However, we now know that such changes are sometimes not innocent at all and reflect changes in methods of tampering with students’ answer sheets. (And we also know that DC’s Inspector General and the Chancellors of DCPS are determined NOT to look for any wrong-doing that might make their pet theories look bad.)

Whether these are innocent changes, or not, is for others to decide – but these schools’ scores are worth looking at again, one way or another. If it’s fraud, it needs to be stopped. If double-digit increases in DC-CAS pass rates are due to better teaching, then those methods need to be shared widely!

What I did was examine a spreadsheet published by OSSE and Mayor Gray’s office and examine how the percentages of “proficient” students in reading and math at each school changed one year to the next, or from one year to two years later for the period SY 2007-8 through SY 2011-12, five full years. I then counted how many times a school’s listed percentage of “proficient” students went up, or went down, by ten or more percentage points, from one year to the next, or from one year to two years later.

One charter school, D.C. Preparatory Academy PCS – Edgewood Elementary Campus, had ELEVEN double-digit changes from year to year or from one year to two years later. All were upward changes. Perhaps these are really the results of educational improvements, perhaps not. I have no way of knowing. If it’s really the result of better teaching, great! Let their secrets be shared! If it’s not legitimate, then the fraud needs to end.

Two regular DC public elementary schools, Tyler and Hendley, both had TEN double-digit changes measured in the same way. Both had four increases of 10% or more, and both had six decreases by the same amount.

Six schools had NINE double-digit changes. After the names of each school, I will list how many of these were in the positive and negative directions (i.e., up or down). Here they are:

  1. Burroughs EC (3 up, 6 down)
  2. D.C. Bilingual PCS (8 up, 1 down)
  3. Kimball ES (2 up, 7 down)
  4. Meridian PCS (5 up, 4 down)
  5. Potomac Lighthouse PCS (6 up, 3 down)
  6. Wilson J.O. ES (2 up, 7 down)

Thirteen schools had EIGHT double-digit year-to-year changes in proficiency rates. I will list them similarly:

  1. Aiton ES (0 up, 8 down)
  2. Barnard ES (Lincoln Hill Cluster)  (2 up, 6 down)
  3. Cesar Chavez PCS – Capitol Hill Campus (6 up, 2 down)
  4. Coolidge SHS (3 up, 5 down)
  5. Hospitality PCS (4 up, 4 down)
  6. Houston ES (3 up, 5 down)
  7. Ludlow-Taylor ES (5 up, 3 down)
  8. Noyes ES (1 up, 7 down)
  9. Raymond ES (1 up, 7 down)
  10. Roots PCS- Kennedy Street Campus (5 up, 3 down)
  11. Septima Clark PCS (8 up, 0 down)
  12. Thomas ES (4 up, 4 down)
  13. Washington Math Science Technology (WMST) PCS (4 up, 4 down)

Eighteen schools had SEVEN double-digit year-to-year changes:

  1. Booker T. Washington PCS (4 up, 3 down)
  2. Brent ES (7 up, 0 down)
  3. Community Academy PCS – Butler Bilingual (7 up, 0 down)
  4. Garrison ES (2 up, 5 down)
  5. Hearst ES (0 up, 7 down)
  6. Imagine Southeast PCS (6 up, 1 down)
  7. LaSalle-Backus EC (1 up, 6 down)
  8. Leckie ES (2 up,                 5 down)
  9. Marie Reed ES (2 up, 5 down)
  10. Martin Luther King ES (3 up, 4 down)
  11. McKinley Technology HS (7 up, 0 down)
  12. Payne ES (5 up, 2 down)
  13. Ross ES (6 up, 1 down)
  14. Sharpe Health School (4 up, 3 down)
  15. Takoma EC (0 up, 7 down)
  16. Tree of Life PCS (3 up, 4 down)
  17. Turner  ES at Green (3 up, 4 down)
  18. Two Rivers Elementary PCS (7 up, 0 down)

 

Seventeen schools had SIX double-digit year-to-year changes in proficiency rates:

  1. Bruce-Monroe ES at Park View (2 up, 4 down)
  2. Burrville ES (1 up, 5 down)
  3. C.W. Harris ES (2 up, 4 down)
  4. Center City PCS – Capitol Hill Campus (6 up, 0 down)
  5. Center City PCS – Trinidad Campus (5 up, 1 down)
  6. Cesar Chavez PCS – Bruce Prep Campus (6 up, 0 down)
  7. D.C. Preparatory Academcy PCS – Edgewood Middle Campus (6 up, 0 down)
  8. Ferebee Hope ES (1 up, 5 down)
  9. Friendship PCS – Blow-Pierce (2 up, 4 down)
  10. Friendship PCS – Collegiate (4 up, 2 down)
  11. Kenilworth ES (5 up, 1 down)
  12. Luke C. Moore Academy HS (4 up, 2 down)
  13. Mamie D. Lee School (4 up, 2 down)
  14. Roosevelt SHS (3 up, 3 down)
  15. Simon ES (3 up, 3 down)
  16. Stanton ES (3 up, 3 down)
  17. Winston EC (1 up, 5 down)

Let me caution my readers: Just because there are double-digit changes does not in itself mean there is fraud. Student populations can change in average socioeconomic status or composition for all sorts of reasons. Teaching staff and administrators can also change – and so can teaching methodologies, and sometimes entire schools move from one location to another one, with somewhat unpredictable results for good or for the opposite.

However, documented news articles in USA Today and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which I have referenced in this blog, have shown convincingly that some of the large swings are definitely due to massive amounts of erasures of incorrect answers, or improper coaching of students during the test by administrators or teachers.

If the increases in pass rates are in fact legitimate, then the rest of the teachers in DC need to know what those secrets are!

In any case, there should be further scrutiny to figure out what is causing such large swings in scores at so many schools.

Note: I got my data here: http://osse.dc.gov/release/mayor-vincent-c-gray-announces-2012-dc-cas-results

Published in: on October 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I worked at Burroughs last year. As a staff we worked hard, and we were lucky enough to have small class sizes. The gains from last year were gotten the hard way.

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