Answers to the Latest Quiz on the Baltimore-Rhee “Miracle”

Here are the answers:

(1) There is not a single Baltimore Edison/EAI/Tesseract school at which students in math jumped from the 13th percentile to above the 90th percentile, in either CTBS reading or math, at any grade level, during the period 1992 through 1995.

(2) The school where Michelle Rhee taught was school O (with a yellow background).

(3) The ones that were run by Tesseract/EAI/Edison were schools J, L, O, R, and S. The regular Baltimore public schools were schools K, M, N, P, and Q.

If you group the two sets of schools, results appear to be about a wash.

This study is pretty conclusive evidence that Michelle Rhee was flat-out lying in her resume, in her testimony about her resume, and in her interview last month in the Washingtonian magazine.

Here are the graphs again, with the names of the schools written in:

If we were to use the criteria of Jason Kamras, Eric Hanushek, and Michelle Rhee, then Rhee should have been fired after the first year or two.


Why does this resume flap still matter?

Simply because this person, who is proven to be a repeated liar, continues to nearly dominate the national discussion about “reforming” public education. (read: destroying public education) She has absolutely no shame about lying to the public with an absolutely convincing demeanor. Perhaps she believes her own lies. If that was the only problem, nobody would care. But there is a problem: she is succeeding in demonizing teachers in general and in steering the public away from the real changes that need to happen in the American public educational system, and towards changes sought by the same billionaires who are plundering the entire planet, widening the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us, and who recently threw millions of Americans out of work.

PS: here is my data source.

Now a Quiz on the Baltimore Rhee CTBS Math Miracle

You have another quiz, this time to see if you can deduce what school Michelle Rhee performed her Baltimore CTBS mathematics miracle in. As I have pointed out in previous posts, Rhee claims that she took her students from the 13th percentile (extremely low) to above the 90th percentile (you can’t go higher than 99th percentile) on national standardized tests in “academics” – so that, presumably, includes mathematics.

I randomly chose 5 of the seven Tesseract/EAI/Edison schools, and also five of the eight comparison-group regular public schools. For each school, I converted the NCE scores to percentile ranks for the 2nd grade in years 1992, 1993, and 1994, and for the 3rd grade in 1995. Finally, I again used a random-number generator to scramble up the order of the schools.

So, you have two challenges:

  1. In which of schools J-S did Michelle Rhee work this miracle? (Remember, there were only two third grade sections during her final year teaching, and she was team teaching [perhaps with the other third-grade teacher] so the jump should be extreme!)
  2. Which ones were regular public schools, and which ones were run by the for-profit EAI/Tesseract/Edison corporation? (Five are in one group, and five in the other.)

Here is the data (which I double-checked this time):

Small technical note: you cannot add, subtract, divide, multiply or take averages on percentiles. You can do all of that with NCEs, but NCEs are a lot harder to understand for most people than percentiles are. Rhee gave her results in terms of percentiles, so I am following suit.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm  Comments (6)  
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I have a puzzle for you: Can You Spot the Baltimore-Rhee Miracle of 1993-1995?

Is Michelle Rhee a liar, or is she honest? You decide.

You remember that Michelle Rhee said that when she taught for three years in Baltimore, after a bit of a rough spot during her first year, she brought her students from the very bottom to the very top, right? If that’s true, then it should be really easy to spot those scores, especially since there were exactly TWO third-grade classes at her Baltimore school during her final year, and she says that she team-taught with the other second-grade, later third-grade, teacher during those last two years. (Or maybe there were two teachers in her class – I can’t tell from her account.) But no matter. A jump that large should be really, really obvious.

In last month’s Washingtonian Magazine, she told an interviewer:

In my second year of teaching, we took them from the bottom to the top on academics, and what I learned from that experience was these kids were getting screwed because people wanted to blame their low achievement levels on the single-parent households and on the poverty in the community. In that two-year period, none of those things changed. Their parents didn’t change.

“What changed?
“What we were doing with them in school.”

And as I pointed out in my previous post, her official resume says “Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90% of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.” (emphasis added by me)

Here comes the puzzle.

I looked up the CTBS reading scores for nine different schools in Baltimore for the period 1992 through 1995. I converted all of the CTBS NCE reading scores in the second grade for 1992, 1993, and 1994, and for the third grade in 1995 into percentile ranks, because that is the measurement that Rhee refers to. The CTBS is, as far as I can tell, the only nationally-standardized test that was given in Baltimore. The MSPAP, which was also given during at least some of those years, is a Maryland state-wide test, and so far, I haven’t found scores on the MSPAP for 1995.

Here are the graphs showing the CTBS reading scores in nine different schools (or clusters of schools) during the years Michelle Rhee claims to have worked her miracle. I included all of the seven Tesseract/EAI schools, including Harlem Park where Rhee taught, and I also included some of the regular public schools that were officially designated as comparison schools in the study that was supposed to figure out whether Edison was doing a good job or not.

I will NOT tell you which graph is Harlem Park. It’s your job to figure out which one it was.

Hint: Rhee was still in college for SY 1992. She worked at Harlem Park for SY 1993, 1994, and 1995. She taught second grade for the first two years, and then apparently followed the students into the third grade for SY 1995.

Let’s look at the graphs:

OK, boys and girls. Which school was it? A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, or I?

(No more hints today. I’ll give the identities of these schools tomorrow.)


Error notice: I noticed this morning that I had accidentally inverted the percentile ranks and NCE scores in several places, which made some of these graphs wrong and the question harder to answer. It is now fixed, but I wish I was a better proofreader. I apologize to all.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 3:04 am  Comments (5)  
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One Way to Raise Test Scores: Get Rid of the Special Education Students

The easiest way to raise average test scores in a class or a school is to eliminate the ones who present problems: those requiring special education services, recent immigrants with little English ability and little education in their home country, and so on. If you eliminate the students who are often difficult to teach and who tend to have low scores, then you can look like a winner, because your average scores will rise — and those of your “competitors’ will fall. Without doing anything about our national problems.

(Ain’t educational competition grand?)

Judging by what the for-profit Tesseract/EAI company did in Baltimore back in the first half of the 1990’s, when they were awarded a contract to run seven elementary schools, it looks like they may have done just that. (But their scores STILL weren’t anything to brag about!).

Why do I bring this up? Because recently-departed Chancellor of DC Public Schools, Michelle Rhee, supposedly performed various miracles in one of those Tesseract schools, starting in 1992-1993 and going through SY 1994-5. The name of the school? Harlem Park.

See for yourself:

As you can see, the percentage of students eligible for Level 4 special education services in the two official comparison groups of regular public schools, grades 1-5,  stayed pretty constant during the entire 4-year experiment: somewhere between 6% and 8% of their students were identified as Level 4 special education.

Not so in the seven Tesseract schools, though. The percentage for the entire group of EAI schools went from 8% SPED to 2% SPED, which means that the proportion of students in those schools eligible for special education services dropped by three-fourths!!!

At Harlem Park, too, the proportion of students in special education during that time period dropped drastically – by 70%.

Did this weeding-out of Special Education students have anything to do with Chancellor Rhee’s alleged miracle? (remember: she claimed on her official resume that she

“[t]aught in Harlem Park Community School, one of the lowest-performing elementary schools in Baltimore City, effecting significant measurable gains in student achievement. Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90% of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.“) [emphasis added by GFB]

Stay tuned for more results.

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