Did Michelle Rhee Actually Close Those Achievement Gaps?

Part Thirteen Of Many

Here we look to see if Michelle Rhee lived up to her promises that she would close some of the ‘achievement gaps’ between privileged and underprivileged students in Washington, DC — all part of the set of targets that she put forth in writing in a series of letters between four billionaire’s foundations, DC Public Schools, and various DC financial authorities.

Specifically, did the gaps between white students and black ones get smaller as she predicted? Or between white students and hispanic students?

The short answer is, as usual in this series of columns, a very simple NO, at least not for 2013 – nor did she reach the goals she set in 2010 or 2011. (I’ll get to 2012 soon, I promise.)

Here is a summary table, showing that in eight target areas, Rhee and her successor Kaya Henderson did not come anywhere close to reaching those promised goals, even though they got almost complete freedom to fire teachers and administrators for almost any reason.

black-white and hispanic-white achievement gaps, dc-cas, 2013

In this situation, a low number is a Good Thing, because it means that the gaps between black and white students’ scores, or between white and hispanic students’ scores, are getting smaller. However, you will notice that in many cases, the gaps are twice or three times as wide as Rhee and her henchpeople promised the billionaires.

I’ll try to explain. Rhee promised that in 2013, the difference in percentages of white and black students who scored at the ‘advanced’ or ‘proficient’ level in reading in the elementary grades in DCPS would only be 26.7%. Unfortunately, it was really 56.9%. At the secondary level in reading, the prediction was that the black-white gap would only be 33.2%, whereas in reality it turned out to be 48.3%.

Moving to the hispanic-white achievement gap, Rhee promised that the gap at the elementary reading level would only be 20.1%, whereas actually it was 43.9%.

And so on.

In not a single one of these eight measurable areas did Rhee’s predictions even come close to reality.

So, adding these eight more failures, we now have an overall failure rate of one and a half successes out of 62 measured areas, for a current success rate of 2.5%, and hence a failure rate of 97.5%.

Let me emphasize that:

A failure rate of 97.5%.

failure rate out of 62

Why does anybody listen to Rhee or Kaya Henderson or anybody else involved in the Corporate Educational Deform movement?

Almost none of their promises pan out!


Sources: the  letters containing the promises here. and you can find the spreadsheet containing the scores for 2013 here. I calculated and then added up the numbers and percentages of kids scoring ‘advanced’ or ‘proficient’ at grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 for the ‘elementary’ totals that I report above, and those at grades 7, 8 and 10 for the ‘secondary’..



The saga so far:

  1.  https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/did-any-of-michelle-rhees-promises-actually-work-in-dc/
  2. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/more-on-michelle-rhees-promises-concerning-dcps/
  3. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/what-rhee-promised-to-the-billionaires-walton-gates-et-al-but-didnt-deliver/
  4. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/two-more-promises-by-rhee-et-al-were-they-kept/
  5. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/ten-more-promises-from-rhee-henderson-company-were-any-of-them-kept/
  6. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/33-6-for-nearly-all-values-of-3-not-5/
  7. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5281/
  8. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/more-failures-to-deliver-on-promises-by-michelle-rhee-and-her-acolytes/
  9. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/another-day-another-bunch-of-failures-from-rhee-henderson/
  10. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/even-more-missed-targets-dc-cas-proficiency-in-2010-and-2011/
  11. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/rhees-failures-in-dc-the-continuing-saga-2012-dc-cas/
  12. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-long-list-of-failures-by-rhee-and-henderson-continued/
  13. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/did-michelle-rhee-actually-close-those-achievement-gaps/ (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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