Part Sixteen and Final
Today we look at the black-white and hispanic-white achievement gaps in the Washington, DC public school system, which has now been under mayoral control for seven full years.
My four graphs and tables today will show how laughably pitiful their claims of success really are.
You will see that the achievement gap is pretty much unchanged since the year I retired (2009), but the gap between Rhee’s promises and reality has been getting wider and wider.
A lot of their promises had to do with closing the ‘achievement gaps’ between white and more-affluent students on the one hand, and black, white, and impoverished students on the other hand. As you probably are aware, standardized test scores are very strongly linked to family income and educational levels. You may not be aware that the white population of Washington DC is generally very well-educated.and fairly affluent (unlike rural white populations in, say, West Virginia or Kentucky). Washington has the highest-scoring white student body in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the widest gap between the scores of white students and of hispanic or black students.
However, Michelle Rhee and her minions promised spectacular reductions in those gaps, as measured by the relative percentages of students scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ on the DC-CAS among white students, hispanic students, black students, and students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches (versus those not eligible).
What I found is a complete and utter failure to make any progress whatsoever since 2008 or 2009 — the year that Rhee twisted the arms of every single principal in the school system to come up with miraculous gains, and when many of those principals (and teachers) engaged in cheating to boost the scores.
As usual, don’t just take my word for it. Look at the following four graphs and check my sources if you like.
With these graphs and tables, low numbers are GOOD because that means that the gap between white students on the one hand and black or hispanic students on the other is getting smaller. High numbers are BAD because the gap is getting bigger.
You will notice that each graph has a solid black line — that represents what really happened.
Each graph also has a dotted red line. It represents how much Rhee et al promised that things would improve.
I don’t exactly know what they were smoking when they made those promises, but it seems like they were hallucinating that by WILL alone, and by replacing all the veteran teachers and administrators with untrained, unqualified and inexperienced newbies from TFA or TNTP, they would achieve miracles.
Again, see for yourself.
First we look at the gaps between the scores of black and white students, in math, on the DC-CAS, from 2007-2014.
Since 2009, the year that Rhee and many principals were outed as cheaters by a lengthy series of reports in USAToday, you can see that there has in fact been no progress in closing the gap. The prediction is the red, dotted line. The actual performance is the black line, which is essentially horizontal after 2009.
Now let’s look at the black-white achievement gap in reading:
In this case, the gap between the scores of black and white students — as shown by the solid black line — has actually been growing slightly wider since 2008! As in the previous graph, the totally imaginary promises of Rhee and Henderson are the red, dotted line – a line which got farther and farther away from the truth every single year. Some accomplishment, Rhee and Henderson and Gray!
Thirdly, we look at the gaps between hispanic and white students in math:
We see here that the black line has been wiggling up and down since 2009, with the result that the gap for 2014 is almost exactly the same as the gap in 2009, while we were promised miracles. Once again, there is a very important gap that is getting much wider: the gap between the prediction and reality.
My last table and graph for the day concerns the achievement gap for reading, between hispanic and white students.
As you can see, this achievement gap is now actually a bit wider than it was in either 2008 or 2009. And the gap between those promises and reality got steadily wider and wider.
Some people have told me that I’m being unfair, because Rhee and Henderson, under mayoral control, have been making tremendous progress in raising test scores and in closing the achievement gaps. I hope that this post sets the record straight: they have in fact made NO progress in closing the achievement gaps, and their predictions became more and more laughable as time went on.
Can someone explain to me why Kaya Henderson still has a job as chancellor of DC public schools?
This is my last post in this series of articles.
I’ve been examining the promised, miraculous gains that were promised in the troubled Washington, DC public school system to see whether any of those 78 promised goals were reached.
Rhee and Henderson actually accomplished one and a half out of that 78 goals.
It is true that there have been steady improvements on the scores of DCPS students (all groups) in math on the NAEP — but those improvements began in the 1990s, a decade before Mayor Adrian Fenty got the wacky idea of hiring a totally unqualified sociopathic liar (Michelle Rhee) as Chancellor. There were also some fairly large gains in DC-CAS test scores during the first two years it was given, but that’s normal. As far as I have seen, any time any school district adopts a new standardized test, students’ test scores plummet the first year, but then rise after a year or two, as the teachers and students get used to the new format.
The saga so far: