More Failures to Deliver on Promises by Michelle Rhee and Her Acolytes

Part Eight of Many

As you may recall, Michelle Rhee made a whole lot of promises about the types of improvements in test scores that she could deliver if she was given free reign to fire administrators or teachers in the DC Public School system as she saw fit and give bonuses to those who increased test scores according to her mandates.

I’ve been looking into those 78 numerical goals, using the original documents and with prodding from my former colleague, Erich Martel (we are both retired DCPS teachers).

Up until now, out of 14 measurable goals that I have waded through, I have shown that she delivered on exactly one and a half of those promises.

I just now finished crunching the numbers for the 2011 DC-CAS to see how her promises fared concerning the ‘achievement gaps’. That term refers to the differences in the percentages of various groups that score at or above the ‘proficient’ label on the local NCLB standardized test, the DC-CAS.

Bottom line for today? Out of twelve measurable goals that I analyzed and that she promised, on the 2011 DC-CAS, in exchange for 64.5 million dollars, she and her successors achieved exactly NONE of them.

Not one.

So her score (and that of Kaya Henderson, her chief henchperson and successor), is now 1.5 out of 26, which is roughly six percent.

goals met so far 1+half out of 26

Six percent!

And falling!

Here is a table showing how Rhee and the rest of DCPS central administration failed to meet any of the goals on this round:

achievement gap promises and actual results for 2011 dc-cas

For example, and starting from the top, Rhee et al promised that in elementary reading, in 2011, the black-white proficiency gap in 2011 would only be 36.7%. In fact, it was 53.5% by my calculations,* and even higher than it was in 2007 when she was hired as chancellor!

She also promised that for elementary reading, the Hispanic-white gap would only be 30.1% but it was really 43.7%, again higher than it was in 2007!

Likewise, the promise was that the gap between the proficiency rates of poor students (i.e., those eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) and the non-poor, or non-disadvantaged, in elementary reading would only be 21.2%. However, it was really 31.5% — once again, higher than it was in 2007.

(If you aren’t clear on this, the general idea is that big gaps between proficiency rates of white and black students, or between white and hispanic students, or between poor and non-poor students, are bad. Lowering those gaps is good. I certainly agree with the goal. I just don’t think that Michelle Rhee had any clue as to how to go about doing it, but she was a really good huckster.)

In secondary reading (which I take to be grades 7, 8, and 10), the situation was much the same. A promised gap of 43.2% between black and white students was really 49.7%, the same as it was in 2009. The gap for hispanic vs white secondary students was promised to be 31.8% but was really 37.7%. The poor-nonpoor gap was promised to be 18.3% but was really 21.9%.

I won’t bore you with all six of her failures in the math department — you can read the table for yourself, keeping in mind that the salmon-colored boxes are the actual results, which are higher (and thus worse) than the very optimistic predictions that Rhee and her henchpeople made to the four billionaires’ foundations.

As I’ve asked many times before:

With an almost continuous legacy of lies, broken promises, and failures to deliver on anything, why does anybody listen to Michelle Rhee? And why does Kaya Henderson have a job as DCPS chancellor?


* Here is the gist of how I calculated this: according to OSSE documents, there were 9132 African-American students tested in DCPS in reading in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 in 2011. Of them, about 3234 tested as ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’, which works out to 35.4% (about a third) being scored ‘passing’ according to the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Among White non-Hispanic students in DCPS in the same grades, same subject, there were 1,226 students tested, of whom 1,090 were ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’. That works out to 88.9% ‘passing’ among white students. If you subtract 35.4% from 88.9%, you get a ‘proficiency gap’ of about 53.5%. For comparison, the same gap in 2007 was 53.7%.

All of the calculations were done in the same manner, and I can post the spreadsheets on Google Drive if anybody is interested. If anybody finds any errors, their contribution will be cheerfully acknowledged and this page will be corrected, with credit.


Next time, I plan to look at the 2010 DC-CAS, then the ones for 2012 and 2013. Many apologies for not going in order.


  1. The saga so far:
    8.  (this one)


    Once again, let me credit my colleague Erich Martel for coming up with the idea of going back to the original promises and seeing if they were kept or not, and sharing his findings with me. These calculations are generally my own, so if you find any mistakes, don’t blame him. Blame me.

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  1. […] in 2007 when they laid out 60-some goals they said they would meet by 2014. As you may recall from looking at my blog or what Erich Martel wrote on the topic, their success rate in meeting those goals (regarding things […]


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