What Exactly Were the Differences Between Cheating in Atlanta Under Beverly Hall and the Cheating in DC Under Michelle Rhee?

We all know that administrators and teachers in DC and in Atlanta cheated in order to keep their jobs and gain large cash bonuses. In one city, scores of teachers were indicted, some plea=bargained, some went to jail, and the chief died of cancer. In the other city, only a couple of whistle-blowers lost their jobs, but the chief went on to fame and fortune while all the other culpable parties kept their bonuses.

But why is it that only in Atlanta were teachers and administrators indicted and convicted, but nowhere else?

What difference was there in their actual behavior?

To me, the answer is simple: in DC, officials at every level, from the Mayor’s office up to the President of the US and the Secretary of Education, were determined to make sure that Michelle Rhee’s lying and suborning of perjury and lies would never be revealed, no matter what.

Read for yourself part of the official documents in Atlanta (I’m quoting from The Answer Sheet) and see if you can find any real differences in behavior between what happened there and what happened in DC.

“A[tlanta] P[ublic] S[schools] principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated. When principals and teachers could not reach their targets, their performance was criticized, their jobs were threatened and some were terminated. Over time, the unnreasonable pressure to meet annual APS targets led some employees to cheat on the CRCT. The refusal of Beverly Hall and her top administrators to accept anything other than satisfying targets created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.

“To satisfy annual targets and AYP, test answer sheets were altered, fabricated, and falsely certified. Test scores that were inflated as a result of cheating were purported to be the actual achievement of targets through legitimately obtained improvements in students’ performance when, in fact, the conspirators knew those results had been obtained through cheating and did not reflect students’ actual academic performance.

“As part of the conspiracy, employees of APS who failed to satisfy targets were terminated or threatened with termination, while others who achieved targets through cheating were publicly praised and financially rewarded. For example, teachers who reported other teachers who cheated were terminated, while teachers who were caught cheating were only suspended. The message from Beverly Hall was clear: there were to be no exceptions and no excuses for failure to meet targets.

“Beverly Hall placed unreasonable emphasis on achieving targets; protected and rewarded those who achieved targets through cheating; terminated principals who failed to achieve targets; and ignored suspicions CRCT score gains at schools within APS. As a result, cheating became more and more prevalent within APS, until by the time the 2009 CRCT was administered, cheating was taking place in a majority of APS’s 83 elementary and middle schools. This was substantiated by GOSA’s erasure analysis, which identified 43 APS elementary and middle schools with at least one out of four classrooms within those schools having a statistically improbable number of erasures changing wrong answers to right answers. GOSA’s erasure analysis identified an additional 9 APS elementary and middle schools as having at least one out of five classrooms with a statistically improbable number of erasures changing wrong answers to right answers. Confessions by dozens of APS employees subsequently confirmed what GOSA’s statistical analysis indicated; widespread cheating occurred on the 2009 CRCT.

“It was further a part of the conspiracy and endeavor that targets achieved through cheating were used to obtain financial and other rewards for many of the conspirators.

“It was further part of the conspiracy and endeavor that targets achieved through cheating were used by Beverly Hall to obtain substantial performance bonuses.

“It was further part of the conspiracy and endeavor that Beverly Hall and other conspirators would interfere with, suppress and obstruct investigations into cheating using various methods. Conspirators would refuse to investigate reports of cheating; suppress and deny the existence of reports of cheating; fail to act upon APS investigators’ conclusions that cheating was occurring; suppress and deny the APS investigators’ conclusions that cheating was in fact occurring; fail and refuse to provide complaints of cheating to the Governor’s Special Investigators, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office; and intimidate witnesses with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of criminal offenses to law enforcement officers. When questioned by the Governor’s Special Investigators and law enforcement officers, many of the conspirators made false statements some under oath denying their knowledge of and participation in the cheating.”

An inspiring interview with Diane Ravitch

Read it here.

A quote:

[Interviewer]: My biggest disappointment with Barack Obama is his education policy. He had Linda Darling-Hammond as his consultant during the 2008 election, and we get Arne Duncan.

[Diane Ravitch]: That was bait and switch. The greatest disappointment of this entire situation, which I consider to be a direct assault on the very principle of public education in America, is Barack Obama. In the state of the union, the president said that he didn’t want teaching to the test, but he wants teachers who don’t get the test marks to be ousted. He pretends to be completely detached and almost as though he doesn’t know what Arne Duncan is doing. Arne Duncan is doing what Barack Obama wants him to do, and they are doing what the Wall Street hedge-fund managers want them to do. They are pushing a privatization agenda, there’s no question about it. Obama always said if the unions were under assault, he would put on those walking shoes. Did you see him in Madison, Wisconsin? I didn’t. In fact, I was in Madison, Wisconsin to speak at the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, and I happened to be there right in the middle of that great demonstration. On Twitter I was exchanging tweets with Justin Hamilton, Duncan’s press secretary at the time, and I challenged him to march together around the State House. Arne and the president were in Miami with Jeb Bush celebrating the turn-around of Miami Public High School, which in a month received notice it was going to be closed. I mean, it was all a sham. We are surrounded by so many frauds, hoaxes, and shams. Arne has been a leader in perpetuating the hoaxes, and the president has been right there by his side. Arne Duncan is a guy who’s dedicated to persuading people that Michelle Rhee is right. He’s the worst Secretary of Education in our history.

Listing of Educational Bloggers

This is a list of the blogs maintained at the present time by some fellow-activist teachers and others.

Enjoy!

BLOGGER NAME BLOG NAME BLOG WEBSITE
A Teacher on Teaching A Teacher on Teaching http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/
Aaron Barlow Aaron Barlow http://academeblog.org/author/aaronbarlow/ or http://audsandens.blogspot.com/
Accountable Talk Accountable Talk http://www.accountabletalk.com/
Adam Bessie Automated Teaching Machine http://adambessie.com/
Alan Singer Alan Singer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/
Alexandra Miletta Alexandra Miletta http://alexandramiletta.blogspot.com
Alice Mercer Reflections on Teaching http://mizmercer.edublogs.org
Allan Jones Allan Jones https://www.facebook.com/groups/1398276720427252/
Amy Moore Amy Moore http://www.desmoinesregister.com/topic/065294af-047d-4b86-beb4-0d401eb82096/
Andy Spears Tennessee Education Report http://tnedreport.com/
Ani McHugh Teacherbiz http://teacherbiz.wordpress.com
Ann Policelli Cronin Ann Policelli Cronin http://reallearningct.com/
Anne Tenaglia Teacher’s Lessons Learned http://teacherslessonslearned.blogspot.com/
Anthony Cody Anthony Cody http://www.livingindialogue.com/
Arthur Getzel The Public Educator (aka liberalteacher) http://thepubliceducator.com/
Arthur Goldstein NYCEducator http://nyceducator.com/
Arthur H. Camins Arthur H. Camins http://www.arthurcamins.com/
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley VAMboozled http://vamboozled.com/
Aurelio M. Montemayor Parent Leadership in Education http://parentleadershipined.blogspot.com/
Badass Teachers Association (Marla Kilfoyle, Melissa Tomlinson) Badass Teachers Association http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/ and http://www.badassteacher.org/
Barbara Madeloni Educators for a Democratic Union http://www.educatorsforademocraticunion.com/
Barbara McClanahan readingdoc http://readingdoc.wordpress.com/
Betsy Combier Parent Advocatees http://www.parentadvocates.org/
Big Education Ape Big Education Ape http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/
Bill Betzen School Achieve Project http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/
Bill Boyle Educarenow http://educarenow.wordpress.com/
Bob Sikes Scathing Purple Musings http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/
Bob Valiant Defend-Ed http://defend-ed.org/
Bonnie Cunard Continuing Change http://gatorbonbc.wordpress.com/ orhttp://bonniecunardmargolin.weebly.com/
Bonny Buffington BBBloviations http://www.bbbloviations.blogspot.com/
Brett Bymaster Stop Rocketship http://www.stoprocketship.com
Brett Dickerson Life At the Intersections http://www.brettdickerson.net/
Brian Cohen Making the grade blog http://www.bncohen.com/
Brian Redmond rsbandman http://rsbandman.wordpress.com
Bruce Baker School Finance 101 http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/
Bruce Bowers Reflections on teaching and learning www.tremphil.com
Carol Burris Carol Burris http://roundtheinkwell.com/ and Answer Sheet
Chaz Chaz’s School Daze http://chaz11.blogspot.com/
Chris Cerrone Children should not be a number http://www.nystoptesting.com/
Chris Guerrieri Jaxkidsmatter http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/
Chris Thinnes Chris Thinnes http://chris.thinnes.me
Christian Goering Edusanity http://www.edusanity.com/
Christopher Martell On Social Studies and Education http://christophermartell.blogspot.com
Christopher Tienken Christopher Tienken http://christienken.com/blog/
Christopher Wooleyhand Common Sense School Leadership http://christopherwooleyhand.edublogs.org
Claudia Swisher Claudia Swisher http://fourthgenerationteacher.blogspot.com/
Cynthia Liu K12NN News Network http://k12newsnetwork.com/
Dan McConnell Truth and Consequences http://dan-mcconnell.blogspot.com/
Daniel Katz Daniel Katz http://danielskatz.net/
Darcie Cimarusti Mother Crusader http://mothercrusader.blogspot.com/
David Chura Kids in the System http://kidsinthesystem.wordpress.com/
David Cohen InterACT:  Accomplished California Teacher http://accomplishedcaliforniateachers.wordpress.com/
David Ellison A Teacher’s Mark’s http://ateachersmarks.blogspot.com/
David Greene DCG MENTORING https://dcgmentor.wordpress.com 
Debbie Forward PFF Faculty Lounge http://pfffacultylounge.wordpress.com/
Deborah McCallum Big Ideas in Education http://bigideasineducation.ca/
Deborah Meier Deborah Meier http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
Demian Godon Reconsidering TFA https://reconsideringtfa.wordpress.com/
Derek Black Education Law Prof Blog http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/education_law/
Diane Aoki The Teacher I Want to Be http://dianeaoki.blogspot.com/
Diane Ravitch Diane Ravitch http://dianeravitch.net
DOE Nutes DOE Nuts Blog http://nycdoenuts.blogspot.com/
Don Russell Lifting The Curtain http://liftingthecurtainoneducation.wordpress.com/
Dora Taylor Seattle Education http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/
Doug Martin Doug Martin http://www.schoolsmatter.info/ 
Edward Berger Edward Berger http://edwardfberger.com/
Elizabeth Rose Yo Miz http://yomizthebook.com/
Francesco Portelos Educator Fights Back  or Don’t Tread on Educators http://dtoe.org/ or http://protectportelos.org/
Fred Klonsky Fred Klonsky http://preaprez.wordpress.com/
Gary Rubinstein Gary Rubinstein https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/
Gene Glass Education in Two Words http://ed2worlds.blogspot.com/
George Schmidt Substance News http://www.substancenews.net/
George Wood George Wood http://www.essentialschools.org/
Gerri Songer Gerri Song http://gerriksonger.wordpress.com/
Glen Brown Teacher Poet Musician http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/
Good Morning Art Teacher Good Morning Art Teacher http://goodmorningartteacher.blogspot.com/
Greg Mild Plumberbund http://www.plunderbund.com/
Guy Brandenburg Guy Brandenburg https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/
Helen Gym Philadelphia Public School Notebook http://thenotebook.org/blog
Jack McKay Horace Mann League Blog http://blog.hmleague.org/
James Arnold Dr. James Arnold http://drjamesarnold.blogspot.com/
James Avington Miller, Jr The War Report on Public Education http://thewarreportonpubliceducation.wordpress.com and http://bbsradio.com/thewarreport
James Boutin An Urban Teachers Education http://www.anurbanteacherseducation.com/
James Chascherrie Stop Common Core in Washington State http://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/
James Hamric Hammy’s Education Blog http://edreformblog.wordpress.com/
Jan Resseger Jan Resseger http://janresseger.wordpress.com/
Jane Nixon Willis Staying Strong in School http://stayingstronginschool.blogspot.com/
Jason France Crazy Crawfish http://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/
Jason L. Endacott EduSanity http://www.edusanity.com/
Jason Stanford Jason Stanford http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-stanford/
Jeff Bryant Jeff Bryant http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/
Jen Hogue V.A.M. It! http://valueaddedmeasureit.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Berkshire EduShyster http://edushyster.com/
Jesse Hagopian Jesse Hagopian http://iamaneducator.com/
Jessie Ramey Yinzercation http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/
Jill Conroy The Indignant Teacher http://theindignantteacher.wordpress.com/
Jo Lieb Poetic Justice http://poeticjusticect.com/
Joe Bower For the love of learning http://www.joebower.org/
John J. Viall A Teacher on Teaching http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/
John Kuhn EdGator https://edgator.com
John Young Transparent Christina http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/
Jonathan Lovell Jonathan Lovell’s Blog http://jonathanlovell.blogspot.com/
Jonathan Pelto Wait, What? http://jonathanpelto.com/
Jose Vilson Jose Vilson http://thejosevilson.com/
Joshua Block Joshua Block http://mrjblock.com/
Julian Vasquez Heilig Cloaking Inquity http://cloakinginequity.com/
Justin Aion Relearning to Teach http://relearningtoteach.blogspot.com/
Karren Harper Royal Edutalknola http://edutalknola.com/
Katie Lapham Critical Classrooms https://criticalclassrooms.wordpress.com/
Ken Derstine Defend Public Education http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/
Ken Previti Reclaim Reform http://reclaimreform.com/
Kenneth Bernstein Teacher Ken http://www.dailykos.com/user/teacherken
Kevin Welner Kevin Welner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-welner/ andhttp://nepc.colorado.edu
Lani Cox The Missing Teacher http://lanivcox.blogspot.com/
Larry Cuban Larry Cuban http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/
Larry Feinberg Keystone State Education Coalition http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/
Lee Barrios Geauxteacher http://www.geauxteacher.net/
Leonard Isenberg Perdaily http://www.perdaily.com/
Leonie Haimson Class Size Matters http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/
Levi B Cavener Idahospromise http://idahospromise.org/
Linda Thomas Restore Reason http://restorereason.com/
Lisa Guisbond Fairtest http://www.fairtest.org/
Lloyd Lofthouse Crazy Normal the classroom expose http://crazynormaltheclassroomexpose.com/  or http://lloydlofthouse.org/
Lucianna Sanson The War Report on Public Education https://thewarreportonpubliceducation.wordpress.com/
M. Shannon Hernandez My Final 40 Days http://myfinal40days.com/
Maria Rosa THE INSURGENT TEACHER BLOG http://theinsurgentteacher.blogspot.com/
Marie Corfield Marie Corfield http://mcorfield.blogspot.com/
Marion Brady Marion Brady http://www.marionbrady.com/
Mark Naison With a Brooklyn Accent and Dump Duncan http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com/ and http://dumpduncan.org/
Mark Weber Jersey Jazzman http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/
Martha Infante Martha Infante http://dontforgetsouthcentral.blogspot.com/
Matt Farmer Matt Farmer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-farmer/
Mel Katz The Education Activist: From Student to Teacher https://theeducationactivist.wordpress.com/
Melissa Westbrook Seattle Schools Community Forum http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/
Mercedes Schneider Deutsch29 http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/
Michael Klonsky Michael Klonsky http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/ and http://schoolingintheownershipsociety.blogspot.com/
Michelle Gunderson Education Matters https://www.facebook.com/michelle.gunderson.education.matters
Mike Deshotels Louisiana Educator http://louisianaeducator.blogspot.com/
Mike Rose Mike Rose’s Blog http://mikerosebooks.blogspot.com
Mike Warner Education Under Attack http://educationunderattack.info/
Minnsanity Minnsanity http://minnsanity.wordpress.com/
Morna McDermott Education Alchemy http://www.educationalchemy.com/
Mrs. Fanning LA Woman http://fanninglawoman.blogspot.com/
Ms Kate Ms Katie’s Ramblings http://mskatiesramblings.blogspot.com/
Nancy Bailey Nancy Bailey’s Education Website http://nancyebailey.com/
Nancy Flanagan Teacher in a Strange Land http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/
Nicholas Tampio Nicholas Tampio http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicholas-tampio/
Nikhil Goyal Nikhil Goyal http://nikhilgoyal.me/
Norm Scott Ed Notes Online http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/
Ogo Okoye-Johnson Ogo Okoye-Johnson http://ogookoye-johnson.net/
OK Education Truth okeducationtruths http://okeducationtruths.wordpress.com/
Outside The Box Outside the Box http://teacher-anon.blogspot.com/ 
Patrick Walsh http://raginghorse.wordpress.com/
Paul Horton Education News http://www.educationviews.org/author/paulh/
Paul Thomas The becoming radical http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/
Peggy Robertson Peg with Pen http://www.pegwithpen.com/
Perdido St School Perdido St School http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/
Peter DeWitt Peter DeWitt http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/
Peter Goodman Ed in the Apple http://mets2006.wordpress.com/
Peter Greene Curmudgucation http://www.curmudgucation.blogspot.com/
Phillip Cantor Sustainable Education Transformation http://phillipcantor.com/
Rachael Stickland Student Privacy Matters http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/
Rachel Levy All Things Education http://allthingsedu.blogspot.com/
Ralph Ratto Opine I will http://rlratto.wordpress.com/
Ray Salazar The White Rino http://www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino
Rob Miller View From the Edge http://www.viewfromtheedge.net/
Rob Panning-Miller Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota http://pejamn.blogspot.com/
Robert Cotto Jr. The Cities, Suburbs & Schools Project http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/
Robert D. Skeels Solidaridad http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/
Russ Walsh Russ on Reading http://russonreading.blogspot.com/
Ruth Conniff Public School Shakedown http://www.publicschoolshakedown.org/
Sam Chaltain Sam Chaltain http://www.samchaltain.com
Sara Roos Sara Roos http://redqueeninla.com/
Sarah Blaine Parenting the core http://parentingthecore.wordpress.com/
Sarah Darer Littman Sarah Darer Littman http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com
Sarah Lahm Sarah Lahm http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/eyes-education
Save Public Education Save Public Education
Sharon Higgins Charter School Scandals http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/
Shaun Johnson Chalk Face http://atthechalkface.com/
Sherman Dorn Sherman Dorn http://shermandorn.com/wordpress/
South Bronx School South Bronx School http://www.southbronxschool.com/
Stephanie Rivera Teacher Under Construction http://teacherunderconstruction.com/
Stephen Dyer 10th Period http://10thperiod.blogspot.com/
Stephen Krashen Stephen Krashen http://www.schoolsmatter.info/ and http://skrashen.blogspot.com/
Steve Hinnefeld Steve Hinnefeld http://inschoolmatters.wordpress.com/
Steve O’Donoghue Steve O’Donogue http://www.counterintuitive.com/
Steve Strieker One Teachers Perspective http://oneteachersperspective.blogspot.com/
Steven Singer Gad Fly On the Wall Blog http://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/
Stu Bloom Live Long and Prsoper http://bloom-at.blogspot.com/
Sullio The Pen is Mightier than the Person http://sullio.blogspot.com/
Susan DuFresne Educating the Gates Foundation http://educatingthegatesfoundation.com/
Susan DuFresne and Katie Lapham Teachers Letters to Bill Gates http://teachersletterstobillgates.com/
Susan Ohanian Susan Ohanian http://www.susanohanian.org/
TB Furman tbfurman http://www.tbfurman.us/
TC Dad Gone Wild http://norinrad10.wordpress.com/
Teacher Reality Teacher Reality http://teacherreality.com/
Teacher Tom Teacher Tom http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
Ted Cohen Newark Schools For Sale http://NewarkSchoolsForSale.wordpress.com
The Assailed Teacher http://theassailedteacher.com/
The Teaching Nomad The Teaching Nomad www.theteachingnomad.com/blog 
Tim Slekar Busted Pencils http://bustedpencils.com/ 
Tom Aswell Louisiana Voice http://louisianavoice.com/
Tracy Novick Who-cester Blog http://who-cester.blogspot.com/
Ty Alper Ty Alper (SF School Board candidate) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ty-alper/ or http://www.tyalper.org
Urban Ed Urban Ed http://nycurbaned.blogspot.com/
Vanessa Vaile Precarious Faculty Blog http://www.precariousfacultyblog.com/ or http://nationalmobilizationforequity.org/
Wag the Dog Wag the Dog http://vigornotrigor.wordpress.com/
Walt Gardner Walt Garnder http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/
Wayne Gersen Network Schools http://waynegersen.com/
Wendy Lecker Wendy Lecker http://www.stamfordadvocate.com
Xian Barrett Xian Barrett http://newvoicestrategies.org/
Yohuru Williams Yohuru Williams http://www.yohuruwilliams.net/
Yong Zhao Education in the Age of Globalization http://zhaolearning.com

Has Educational Rhee-form succeeded or failed in Washington DC Public Schools?

Bottom line conclusion from my last bunch of posts (see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6)

Mayoral control of schools in DC, aka Educational Deform à la Rhee, has been an expensive failure, and it was foisted on us under false pretenses.

How can I make that conclusion?

Very simple.

This Rhee-form has fulfilled none of its promises, even on its own terms.

Its backers (Gray, Rhee, Henderson, Duncan, Bloomberg et al) claim that it’s been a great success.

But if you look at the graphs, it is clear that if the regime of Rhee and Henderson is going in the right direction, then so was the previous DCPS regime under superintendents Janey and his predecessors.

Any good trends have continued mostly unchanged.

Remember that we were promised incredible gains in test scores? Compared with the ‘bad old days’ when teachers actually had the right to due process before being fired? And back when poor DC students still had recess and PE and art and music libraries? And compared to the evil era when their teachers weren’t required to waste nearly the entire year on scripted test-prep lessons?

None of those incredible gains show up in the data, any more than they did when Michelle Rhee wrote all those lies in her resume. (I mean, why does ANYBODY listen to a liar like that, or to Rob Ford, or to Michael Millken or Bernie Madoff or the CIA/EPA liar?)

Anybody claiming that the last six sets of NAEP  TUDA scores show brilliant success for educational Rhee-form is engaging in wishful thinking or lobbying.

What’s more, my previous posts (and those of several other researchers and commentators) have shown that there is essentially no correlation between Value-Added scores and anything else. So that’s a failure, even on its own terms: it predicts nothing, it doesn’t help teachers teach better, and is essentially a random-number generator that clearly has done nothing to improve educational outcomes in DCPS, even though it costs taxpayers many, many millions of dollars and consumes a tremendous amount of time – something teachers and other staff have far too little of.

Mayoral control  has lived up to exactly NONE of its promises of closing the achievement gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, or of improved testing outcomes for the students of the District of Columbia any better than did the pre-Rhee superintendent-and-school-board system.

Trends are almost exactly the same now as they were before Mayor Fenty got control of the schools and appointed that serial self-promoter, liar and distorter of facts, Michelle Rhee, as chancellor of DC public schools, where she led an assault on the system which has fired or forced out many thousands of teachers, producing a revolving door of constantly churning teachers who are in turn forced out or fired. What’s more, Rhee-form has turned over half the public school system to private operators with no accountability (some of them brazen criminals) and track record of success except by exclusion and undemocratic practices. Rhee-form has also subjected all students in DCPS to a stultifying test-prep regime where arts, music, social studies and recess are banned and principals themselves can be canned at any time and are under incredible pressure to cheat and get rid of teachers.

From everything I have seen, it is not at all difficult to be doing your job as a teacher just fine, and end up with a mysterious numerical score known as IVA based on some unexplained formula that gets them fired. People have confessed to me that they were wholly unable to teach at all because kids were figuratively running wild in their classrooms, yet they got great “Value-Added” scores anyway. Teachers who became National Board Certified, a tremendous accomplishment, told me of some years (but not others) getting IVA scores so low that it would put their job at risk.

Anybody claiming that the data trends before 2008 look different from the ones after 2008 is engaging in wishful thinking.

So, if Kaya Henderson and Vincent Gray and Arne Duncan claim that the current policies are causing recent gains, then they logically must conclude that the previous policies were producing the same results, and should have been continued as well.

It’s a big, expensive lie that has had real consequences.

Students are wasting nearly an entire school year under stultifying, scripted lessons preparing for an ever-lengthening regime of utterly stupid and poorly-prepared but highly secret standardized tests whose manufacturers are responsible to no-one except their billionaire CEOs. In fact, for the high-stakes tests, it’s considered cheating for the teachers even to analyze the tests after they are given, and results aren’t available until the end of summer, even though it’s a machine-scoreable test which in theory could have a good part of it be graded and fully tabulated in mere seconds… that is if the publishers actually knew what they were doing and weren’t busy lobbying among themselves as to what mathematical and sleight of hand tricks they would play with the data to make it come out the way that the politicians they want…

What About those NAEP TUDA Scores for DC?

You may have read the article in today’s Washington Post where Education DEformer-in-chief Arne Duncan claimed that the DC NAEP TUDA scores were “great examples for the rest of the country of what can happen when schools embrace innovative reforms and do the hard work necessary to ensure that all students graduate ready for college and careers.”

Oh, really?

Let’s remember that those “innovative reforms” started with the 2009-10 school year, though Chancellor Rhee took over at the beginning of the 2007-8 school year and fired a few hundred teachers the next school year.

Whichever date you use, a casual glance at the graphs published by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in their Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) shows that all those expensive billionaire-directed reforms have had nearly no effect in the District of Columbia, except for one: gap between the haves and have-nots is growing wider, not smaller. Otherwise, trends that began in 2002 or 2003 have pretty much continued.

It makes me wonder: Is Arne Duncan merely stupid and can’t even read simple graphs, or is he just a highly-paid liar and shill for the billionaires who have succeeded in hijacking our school system and in eliminating tenure for teachers, eliminating art, recess, PE and music for millions of inner-city students?

You decide, after looking at these graphs which I lifted from the NAEP TUDA website. The “Pre-Rhee” and “Post-Rhee” markers and some color and labels for clarity were added by me. Otherwise, I didn’t change a thing, and I didn’t have to do any complicated digging or perform any statistical tricks whatsoever to find these graphs.

First, let’s look at how students in DC Public Schools fared at the fourth and eighth grade, in reading and math, as compared with each other. Meaning, how did kids at the 75th percentile (top quartile) do, compared to the kids at the median (50th percentile), and compared to the kids at the 25th quartile (bottom quartile), over the past decade or so.

4th grade naep dcps math tuda 2003-2013 by quartile

That was for fourth-grade math. All three of the green lines slant mostly up to the right, meaning their scores are improving, which is generally a good thing. But do you honestly see any big difference between the pre-Rhee years and the post-Rhee years? The only real difference I see is that the gap between the top scorers is getting gradually wider, which is NOT a good thing. The gap used to be about 39 points but is now 52 points.

The next one is for fourth-grade reading.

4th grade naep dcps reading tuda 2003-13 by quartile

I’m not even going to complain that the bottom-quartile students are now scoring slightly lower than they were in 2009, since I know there is a lot of small random variation from one year to year because of the small sample sizes. However, NAEP themselves claim that the reading scores for the 25h- and 50th-percentile kids this year are NOT significantly different from what they were going back 6 to 8 years. And we can see that the gap between the top scorers and  bottom scorers seems to be a lot wider now.

Some great progress, huh? Definitely worth subjecting teachers to a random-number-generator called IVA in order to fire them randomly for that!

Now let’s look at 8th graders:

8th grade naep dcps math tuda 2003-2013 by quartile

 

That previous graph was for 8th grade math students in DC public schools. Do you see any great changes in trends from the pre-Rhee era to the post-Rhee era. I surely don’t. Was this “change” worth getting rid of democratic local control of the school system?

Lastly, in this post, let’s look at the same sort of graph for 8th grade reading:

8th grade naep dcps reading tuda 2003-13 by quartile

Here, the big trend seems to have been a fairly large drop-off in scores for the bottom quartile right after Rhee was anointed Chancellor, but those scores have almost reached the levels of 2002. Otherwise, no significant changes.

So, let me repeat the question:

Is Arne Duncan merely stupid, or just a liar?

 

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 11:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Arne Duncan as a Ridiculous Spin-Meister

From EduSanity comes a finely crafted response to last week’s attempts by Arne Duncan to belittle and denigrate his critics. Here is an excerpt:

In the “real world” Minister Duncan doesn’t even have a background in education.  Duncan became CEO of the Chicago Public Schools because he’s from Chicago and played basketball with Barack Obama back in the day.  He hasn’t taught a single public school child – rich or poor – in his life. It takes some serious gumption to stand on his soapbox filled with no experience and tell others like me what the “real world” of education is like.

Duncan then takes hypocrisy to all new heights when he accuses us of focusing on “false debates”, because as Education Secretary he doesn’t actually engage ANYBODY in a substantive debate.  He appears on friendly television shows and fields softball questions from fawning reporters.   He answers questions on Twitter for an hour each week – picking only those questions that allow him to spew his rhetorical propaganda while he ignores questions that require substance.  He stands behind the podium and laughs like Baghdad Bob at the silliness of those who oppose him and the power of the federal government. He refuses to actually engage in any sort of substantive debate with anybody who is actually qualified to question his reforms.  This I can promise you:  Put Arne Duncan on camera with me and a moderator and this armchair pundit would make him look like Sarah Palin looking for Russia out her window.  It will never happen.

Arne the Education Secretary is playing the role of Arne the politician.  If you look at his quotes above with a critical rhetorical eye you will see that Arne is not trying to bring American citizens and American educators together, he is trying to divide us.  Many of the so-called “armchair pundits” he is referring to are practicing classroom teachers.  These are the “courageous” educators who risk their jobs to stand up to the classist, racist and divisive education policies that Duncan and his corporate cronies have foisted on American school children.  These “armchair pundits” are busy filling backpacks with bags of cereal and granola bars on Friday afternoons because their students may not get a meal over the weekend.  These “armchair pundits” know that poverty is not an excuse – it is a reason. 

Published in: on October 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

More signs of the bankruptcy of the current edu-DEformers

Two news articles show the desperation and moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the current crop of educational deformers.

(No, not their bank accounts: those are doing just fine.)

First:

Arne Duncan says that we who criticize his utterly disastrous educational blunders are armchair pundits who are destroying everything he stands for. I would retort that I have more DECADES in the classroom than he has actual weeks teaching school, and I think he is referring to me and the vast majority of other teachers who vehemently disagree with his take on what good education is like; many of us are highly critical, in writing, of his misguided faith-based goofball ideas.

If an unstandardized, rich, full education with lots of arts, music, sports, and foreign languages, led by teachers who are trusted is good enough for him, his kids, the children of the 1%, and the Obama kids, then it’s good enough for the kids who live in poverty. Test prep is not education. Yet what Duncan is promoting is impoverishing the education that our browner and poorer kids are getting.

I recommend reading Anthony Cody’s transcription of Duncan’s remarks, and what Cody has to say about them.

Second:

The leadership of the ‘oldest charter school in Washington DC’ has been indicted for scamming the public and their students out of some three million dollars.

Here are a few paragraphs from the City Paper blog by Loose Lips:

The scheme allegedly centered around two for-profit companies: Exceptional Education Management Corporation (EEMC), which was owned and incorporated by Options CEO Donna D. Montgomery, and Exceptional Education Services at Options Public Charter School (EES), a company that was incorporated by Hayward, the chair of Options’ board of trustees. The companies had other ties to the school, too—Options paid for their office space, which they shared, according to the attorney general.

At one point in April 2012, according to the attorney general’s complaint (embedded below), Hayward signed off on a $159,000 loan to EES. Later that year, she allegedly agreed to a $981,250 transportation agreement between the school and EES—a hefty deal for the latter, considering that another company had been paid only $70,000 for a similar contract a year before.

The largest unusual contract Hayward was allegedly involved in went to EEMC. In February 2013, Hayward agreed to a $2,801,721 payment to EEMC as a “management fee,” according to the attorney general’s complaint, even though the contract had not been open for competitive bidding.

Options was expected to receive around $13.5 million last fiscal year, with most of it coming from the District, according to Nathan. Hayward, like Options’ administration, didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment.

While Hayward is named in the lawsuit, her alleged involvement pales to that of her co-defendants. Jeremy L. Williams, a member of the school’s board of trustees, is accused of sending confidential emails to warn the school’s officials of incoming inspections while he was still employed as the chief financial officer of the Public Charter School Board. Another, Options CEO Montgomery, was allegedly paid $425,000 in one year. By comparison, the CEO of D.C. Prep,  ranked as one of the city’s top charter schools, made $142,162 in 2012. Nathan’s complaint also points out that $425,000 is more than twice Mayor Vince Gray‘s salary.

You can also read about it elsewhere, such as in the Washington Post, whose editorial staff is trying to figure out whom to throw under the bus and how to whitewash the whole thing.

Let me also add that it is utterly typical of many, many charter schools that their executives and boards of directors receive unbelievable salaries, equal to those of 5 to 10 teachers. For doing what? Radiating “excellence” a couple of times a week while they steer sweetheart contracts to their friends and cronies?

And why do ‘hostile takeover’ specialists like Carl Icahn get to run charter schools?

Published in: on October 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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Ravitch Critiques the Current Education Privatization Movement and Offers Suggestions for a Different Way

For a clear summary of the evidence showing that not a single one of the currently fashionable methods of ‘reforming’ public education has worked, then read the first twenty chapters of the latest book by Diane Ravitch, “Reign of Error”, published today by A.A. Knopf.

This book gratifies me because it lays out in a concise and organized manner much of what I and a number of other education bloggers have been trying to point out for the last four or five years. Ravitch’s clear prose is a masterful summary of the evidence that the bipartisan “reforms” being committed against public education are not only ineffective by the yardsticks held up by these ‘reformers’, but are also resegregating our schools and foisting an inferior education onto our poorest kids.

On the other hand, if you prefer to see a clearly-laid out set of suggestions for a more sensible way to fix our school system, then this is still the right book to read! In chapters 21 through 33, she lays out a logical and sensible way to really fix our schools.

Keep in mind, as you read the book, that the “reformers” of public education have been in charge in some of our largest cities for about 20 years now. For example, Paul Vallas ran Chicago Public Schools from 1995-2001, and Arne Duncan ran them from 2001-2009; since then they are under the control of mayor Rahm Emanuel. They did such a WONDERFUL job that Chicago just found it necessary to close down dozens of schools and fire thousands of teachers and other employees. Joel Klein ran New York City’s public schools from 2002 to his departure to head Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Michelle Rhee and her crony Kaya Henderson have run DC Public Schools since 2007.

Those school systems remain in crisis, despite the claims of our wealthiest citizens (Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family and a bevy of hedge fund managers) that those leaders were producing piles of ‘excellence’ while having almost no teaching experience or school leadership credentials.

If you doubt my claims, all you need to do is look at the graphs and tables in Ravitch’s appendices.

It stokes by own vanity to find a couple of my own blog columns cited on pages 150-151, wherein I had delved into the data on Michelle Rhee’s mythical successes in Baltimore from 1992-1995.

(Rhee has since admitted making the numbers up, but chuckled that they didn’t matter. She has no shame! I also discovered that a possible reason for the increases that were noted at her school and grade level may have been due to two facts: (1) Her school and her grade had one of the greatest attrition rates over those two years of any of the schools in the study; and (2) her grade at her school also had one of the largest percentages of students who scored so low on the CTBS that their scores weren’t even counted!)

Here are the headings and summaries for chapters 5 – 20 of Reign of Error:

5: The Facts About Test Scores

Claim: Test scores are falling, and the educational system is broken and obsolete.

Reality: Test scores are a their highest point ever recorded.

6: The Facts About the Achievement Gap

Claim: The achievement gaps are large and getting worse.

Reality: We have made genuine progress in narrowing the achievement gap, but they will remain large if we do nothing about the causes of the gaps.

7. The Facts About the International Test Scores

Claim: We are falling behind other nations, putting our economy and our national economy at risk.

Reality: An old lament, not true then, not true now.

8. The Facts About High School Graduation Rates

Claim: The nation has a dropout crisis, and high school graduation rates are falling.

Reality: High school dropouts are at an all-time low, and high school graduation rates are at an all-time high.

9. The Facts About College Graduation Rates

Claim: Our economy will suffer unless we have the highest college graduation rates in the world.

Reality: There is no basis for this claim.

10. How Poverty Affects Academic Achievement

Claim: Poverty is an excuse for ineffective teaching and failing schools.

Reality: Poverty is highly correlated with low academic achievement.

11. The Facts About Teachers and Test Scores

Claim: Teachers determine student test scores, and test scores may be used to identify and reward effective teachers and to fire those who are not effective.

Reality: Test scores are not the best way to identify the best teachers.

12. Why Merit Pay Fails

Claim: Merit pay will improve achievement.

Reality: Merit pay has never improved achievement.

13. Do Teachers Need Tenure and Seniority?

Claim: Schools will improve if tenure and seniority are abolished.

Reality: There is no basis for this claim.

14. The Problem with Teach for America

Claim: Teach for America recruits teachers and leaders whose high expectations will one day ensure that every child has an excellent education.

Reality: Teach for America sends bright young people into tough classrooms where they get about the same results as other bright young people in similar classrooms but leave the profession sooner.

15. The Mystery of Michelle Rhee

(no sub-headings for this chapter)

16. The Contradictions of Charters

Claim: Charter schools will revolutionize American education by thei freedom to innovate and produce dramatically better results.

Reality: Charter schools run the gamut from excellent to awful and are, on average, no more innovative or successful than public schools.

17. Trouble in E-Land

Claim: Virtual schools will the promise of personalized, customized learning to every student and usher in an age of educational excellence for all.

Reality: Virtual schools are cash cows for their owners but poor substitutes for real teachers and real schools.

18. Parent Trigger, Parent Tricker

Claim: If parents seize control of their school, they can make it better.

Reality: There is no evidence for this claim.

19. The Failure of Vouchers

Claim: Students who receive vouchers for private and religious schools will experience dramatic success.

Reality: There is no evidence for this claim.

20. Schools Don’t Improve if They Are Closed

Claim: Schools can be dramatically improved by firing the principal, firing half or all of the teaches, or closing the school and starting fresh.

Reality: There is no evidence for this claim.

Next, I’ll give the headings of the chapters laying out solutions.

Reactions to John Merrow’s recent piece on E.D. Hirsch

It is an odd mixture, but I hope you will glance at the short post, on the occasion of Don’s 85th birthday.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/Yr6hEI
Thanks,
John

====================================

Thanks for this, John.

I have very mixed reactions to EDHirsch — not all necessarily at the same time.

About a decade or so, I thought EDH was just plain wrong, but decided I should read what he had to say, so I did just that. It was a painful experience, but I had to admit he made a lot of very convincing points. I wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post about that time, in an article that was mostly critical of what I saw a poorly-thought-out and clearly never-tried out math curriculum  that was being foisted on the students of DC by administrators who had no clue. I think I concluded by endorsing his effort over what was being tried in DCPS at the time – long before charter schools started spreading like fungus or mushrooms.

In any case, my opinion is that Hirsch is worth reading, but he’s a very powerful, logical, and persuasive writer, and if you immerse yourself in his work without having time to discuss it with friends or acquaintances or colleagues or students, you may find yourself being won over by Hirsch, simply because you were unable to argue back with actual data and facts (not just rhetoric). Some of what he argues is correct, but I disagree with him that it is really possible to come up with a single, standard curriculum for everyone, and I also think that a number of educational experiments that he condemns as utter, outright failures have actually been successful at times.

(I should go back and look at my copy and see if I write any comments in the margin. )

In any case, if I had it to do today, I would probably withdraw the endorsement I made at the time, unless I had a chance to visit one of the Core Knowledge schools myself and see how they do it. CK schools may not be perfect, and probably wouldn’t suit me or my wife or my kids, but it might be a pretty good.way of teaching that doesn’t do too much harm, and produces some good results. It seems from your piece, John, that the CK model seems to be working at the schools you visited, and seems well-organized and providing a reasonable education.

Which is about the best one can hope for!

We are not all going to agree  on one and only one perfect way of raising or educating children. Disagreements on what should be emphasized and what should be discouraged are part of what make us human.

That’s fine.

However, what’s not fine is to cheat and abuse kids, and, unfortunately, that’s happening a lot. It should not be the case that the children of the rich and near-rich get an excellent education, with small classes, teachers who aren’t being micro-managed, and lots of ‘extras’ like art, music, sports, drama, and project, but the children of the poor and near-poor, particularly but not exclusively minorities, get a lousy one. Irony of ironies, those ‘extras’ are being removed from the education of those poor students — in the name of improving it! Influential “reformers” like Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg say it’s a wonderful idea to have 50 to 100 students in a room with a single, inexperienced and untrained teacher who has no plans to stick around in the teaching profession. What planet do these nuts come from? Have they ever taught a class themselves?

Oh. They never have. That explains a lot. Neither did Arne Duncan.

Unfortunately, it appears from the objective facts that a good number of organizations that claim to be all for the children seem to be mostly focused on increasing profits for a tiny handful of corporate billionaires, following some arbitrary educational philosophy that has exactly ZERO experimental support and which has FAILED to achieve any of the miraculous results they boasted they would achieve, not even raising test scores. In other words, kind of like latterday, educational snake-oil salesmen, and what they are proposing is quite demonstrably NOT WORKING. If you want examples, look at my blog as well of those by Valerie Strauss, Diane Ravitch, EduShyster, and anybody else we point to on our blogs.

And one of their biggest pitch-ladies, Michelle Rhee, who actually did teach for a while in Baltimore, has been proven to be a serial fabricator of facts. Or, in plain English, a big fat liar, as I and you, John, and many other people have repeatedly shown. Every claim Rhee made about her supposed successes in Baltimore are demonstrably false. (Whether she ate a bee or not, I don’t know and I don’t care.)

I don’t put E.D.Hirsch into that category of Rhee-ly big liars, because I have no evidence of any phoniness or fraudulence on his part. (Then again, I haven’t looked. Has anyone?)

But I have one big question, the answer to which I have no clue, again because I’ve never looked:

What kind of attrition rates for cohorts are there at the schools modeled by EDH? 

(That’s an enormous indictment of even the highest-flying charter schools: they find that they have the exact same difficulty that the regular, urban public schools (RUPS) have been increasingly unable to solve: RUPS are forbidden from expelling, suspending, or otherwise sanctioning in any way the most difficult-to-handle, violent, mentally disturbed students. Teachers have in fact been disarmed of the weapons they need in the classroom: the promise that if a student is seriously disruptive, the student will be removed by another adult and will face very unpleasant consequences that the kid and his/her family actually care about, up to and including removal to another institution that’s much less free. There is absolutely no disciplinary support behind teachers in most non-magnet public schools. And, sorry, NRA, a teacher carrying a gun is the absolutely worst solution I can think of for this problem. I mean, a teacher is ALWAYS considered to be in the wrong if he/she happens to come into any physical contact whatsoever with a student – whether to straighten a collar, remove a “kick me” sign from the back of an unsuspecting patsy, congratulating a student with a pat on the back or head, god-forbid! actually hugging a student for ANY reason, or trying to stop a fight. I know of a number of cases just like this, and could give you lots of details if you cared to listen for a few hours. What the charter schools DO have, and here in DC they use it liberallty, is the right to get rid of students. They have many subtle and not-so-subtle ways of doing it; if public schools could do it, they would be a lot more orderly than they are today. It’s quite difficult to manage a class with just one or two out-of-control students when you have neither administrative nor family support. I honestly assure you that this happens in many public schools and also in some charter schools I have visited.)

So, if a charter or alternative school claims that they are achieving superior results in test scores and attendance and graduation and college acceptance rates, in comparison with the exact same population that’s in the regular public schools, they are simply lying. For one thing, you have to look at the attrition rates. I know a little bit about my few  strengths and many weaknesses as a teacher over my 30 years teaching in public schools in DC. You may find it hard to believe that a lot of my students actually went on to college, even Ivy League in a number of cases I know about — and some went on to jail. Some went on to productive lives doing all sorts of things. Most, of course, I have no idea, but I do run across some of them from time to time.

 

Guess what, no surprises: a strong correlation between family income & education on the one hand and student achievement on the other. (Academic achievement and actual smarts for life are two different things: many of my kids were way smarter than I was at many things — some that I know of even ended up doing much more mathematics or sciences than I ever did, at much deeper levels, so that I can’t follow what they are doing at all. Others were soooo good at emotionally manipulating a situation in ways I seldom could anticipate.

 

Teaching in south Anacostia (DC) is quite different from teaching in Chevy Chase (DC) – and that was as true 35 years ago when I started as it is today. You don’t think I tried to overcome that? I did, I tried as hard as I possibly could, and I failed.

We’ve all failed. Nobody has won.

Yet.

Any “reformer” who claims that the gap has been overcome that gap is probably referring to a charter or private school where the truly emotionally disturbed kids, the ones most affected by what it means to be poor and black or Hispanic in America, the violent and disruptive crazies, have been either made to shape up or ship out. Or never entered in the first place.

We in the public schools have lost the “ship out” solution.

Why? Is it the intention of the today’s ruling class — as publicly advocated by wingnuts like Jerry Fallwell — that the public schools must fail?

——————–

To restate my question, what in fact do they do at Core Knowledge schools about the attrition problem?

Guy Brandenburg, Washington, DC 
https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/
http://home.earthlink.net/~gfbranden/GFB_Home_Page.html
============================


From: John Merrow <jmerrow@learningmatters.tv>
To: John Merrow <jmerrow@learningmatters.tv>
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:26 PM
Subject: Some thoughts about E.D. Hirsch, Jr and the randomness of life–an odd mixture

It is an odd mixture, but I hope you will glance at the short post, on the occasion of Don’s 85th birthday.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/Yr6hEI
Thanks,
John
John Merrow
Education Correspondent,
PBS NewsHour, and President,
Learning Matters, Inc.
My blog:
The Influence of Teachers:
Follow Learning Matters:

If the tests by which all of education is to be measured by are garbage, then so are the results

On this blog I have reprinted examples of what I see are crappy test items and dissected them, hoping to show readers that those items neither made sense nor measured what they are purported to measure.

However, I never worked inside the testing industry itself, so I don’t have direct experience of making up BS test items on an industrial scale.* My own experience, however, is that EVERY test — no matter how good — has validity and reliability problems. This passage shows that the tests on which all US educational decisions are supposed to be based are, in fact, ridiculously badly made from the beginning, and cannot possibly measure what they pretend to measure, are unreliable, and thus utterly invalid.  (Plus the tests are snatching at least potentially valuable class time away from our students, while enabling a handful of big corporations like Pearson (more on which below) are raking in huge dividends because they control almost the entire education market.)

============================

This comes from an interview published by Diane Ravitch ( http://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/27/11990/ )

Rebecca Rubenstein: Since your book was published in 2009, has the “standardized” testing industry improved?

Todd Farley: Not the slightest bit. There was a story in The New York Times in 2001 about how test-scoring was a wildly out-of-control industry, which quotes various employees—not me!—as saying that they faced “too little time, too much to do, not enough people.” It implies the industry was doing a terribly suspect job. Since then, the industry is about a hundred times bigger, but those problems mentioned in the Times article or in my book have never been addressed. The industry has simply grown exponentially, and there are hundreds of millions of dollars to be earned by companies that are completely unregulated—to repeat, completely unregulated, so whatever Pearson et. al. tell us, we’re supposed to say “thank you very much” and just write them a staggeringly large check—but of course things haven’t gotten any better.

In my time in test-scoring, we never had enough temporary employees to do the work; we always had too much to do and too little time to do it; and there were always financial punishments looming over our heads if we didn’t get things done. We cut whatever corners we could to get it done (I’m sorry to say). Today the work load is a hundred times bigger and the money to be made is a hundred times bigger, but the system didn’t work to begin with and of course it doesn’t work now.

The same is true in the test development business. When I worked for one publisher as a test developer, it was always a madcap race to get tests written on time, and we faced absurd deadlines and pressure to do so. The reality is that quality was always secondary to the bottom line when developing tests, and then when the Common Core standards were introduced, and tests and products needed to be written for them, our deadlines became laughably absurd; I was once involved in the development of 200 tests in two months, which I think is literally more tests than ETS has produced in its entire existence. With the Common Core standards released, all the companies knew all the other companies were racing to finish their tests and products first, so quality became even worse than secondary. It became tertiary, or “fourthiary,” or whatever. Subcontractors who had been fired for poor work were rehired; item writers were hired off Craigslist; test developers with neither teaching experience nor test development experience were given full-time jobs. It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, companies like Pearson are for-profit enterprises. They want to make money. They want to make money, so of course they do a crappy job, because the quality of the work is never anywhere near as important as their desire to make a profit, and there’s always too much work and too little time to do it.

continue reading …

A comment: I was at first skeptical of the “200 tests” mentioned being more that the ETS has created in its entire existence. But I think he may be right: The SAT is essentially one, or two, or three tests, depending on how you look at it; it just gets revised a little bit each year. Reading, Math, and Writing. Plus, there perhaps a couple of score different Advanced Placement (AP) tests and Achievement tests in different subjects; they get revised every year, at least they do in the field of math (which I follow, of course) and others.

But what Pearson is doing now is essentially trying to replace the teacher in every single grade level, for every single course, by making the entire curriculum driven by the tests and pre-tests and practice tests and test prep material provided by them.  Yes, I do mean all of third grade. Yes, I do mean 6th grade science, music appreciation, and geography and PE. Every class. And if you count every single course or subject area that a student might be measured by from Pre-K-3 all the way up to graduating from high school, that might in fact be roughly 200 brand-new test series! Not just end-of-course tests, by no means. A different corporate multiple-choice test every month or two!

All this corporate educa-crap is just that: crap forced down the throat of public school kids and ONLY kids in public schools.

And it won’t improve a damned thing. Except for corporate bottom lines.

Of course the children or grandchildren of Michelle Rhee, Michael Bloomberg, Arne Duncan, Eli Broad, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, and Barack Obama will never, ever be subjected to such a poor excuse for an education.

Oh, no.

That’s just for the poor black and latino and white kids who are in high-poverty regions; the only way they can opt out is to go to a charter school which might be doing any damned thing and is almost sure to be even more segregated than the nearest public school, if that’s even possible.

This is progress?

====================

* My students and I often found mistakes on tests and quizzes and assignments I made up. I used to congratulate the student and give him/her/them a point when they pointed out an error. ETS and Pearson’s responses have been rather different. Remember the famous talking pineapple question? And do you recall that essentially no-one has ever been able to explain, line by line, number by number, exactly how ANY single teacher’s VAM numbers were calculated? Has any school district ever released data showing how well VAM and supposedly ‘scientific’ classroom observation data correlate with each other? (Hint: they don’t!!)

Once again, let me urge the leadership of the Washington Teachers’ Union, and teacher unions elsewhere, to enlist a good statistician with his/her feet on the ground, and poke holes in VAM. It’s all a tissue of fabrications.

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