Has Mayoral Control of Schools in DC Succeeded or Failed? A 10-year Record of Data

In the past few posts, (#1, #2, #3) I’ve merely cut-and-pasted graphs or text that the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCESpublished two days ago on their website as part of what has become a very widespread, longitudinal survey of statistics illustrating educational progress or problems in the large urban school systems of the USA; this one was called the NAEP TUDA.

The only modifications I did to the graphs were cutting out the ‘fine print’ that few of my readers would look at anyway, and adding some notations and color for clarity.

(BTW, if you want to look at the fine print, go right ahead! It’s all findable at that same website.)

This time, I actually lifted a few digital fingers and asked the NCES web site to produce some simple tables of longitudinal and cross-sectional data for DCPS and a few other cities. Nothing complicated: I just wanted to see how black, white, and Hispanic  students have been faring, along with those in special education and immigrant kids learning English for the first time, compared with ‘regular’ kids, and compared with tbejr counterparts among alloother large public urban school systems. Then I had Excel plot the data. Here are my first two such graphs, exploring whether mayoral control of schools (and all that went along with that, such as eliminating tenure and turning education over to private corporations) helped or hurt.

I think the results are obvious.

Here goes:

4TH GRADE math naep tuda scale scores for black, white, hisp - nation + DCPS

 

Lots of information in this first graph, but you have to pay a little attention.

(1)    Notice how high white students in DCPS score on this graph (solid red line, at the top). Those students, some of whose siblings I’ve taught at Alice Deal JHS/MS, are the highest-scoring subgroup that I know of in the entire NAEP/NCES/TUDA database. Overall, they continue to do well, and in the fourth grade, for math, the only departure from a straight-line trend was 2007. Their rate of growth in test scores exceeds that of white kids in all urban public school systems, probably because white kids in DC overwhelmingly come from professional, educated families. We don’t have any trailer parks or other sizable population of white working-class kids in DC, ever since the massive “white flight” of the 1960s. (You have to go elsewhere to find characters like those on “Honey Boo Boo”!)  In any case, overall, no real change pre-Rhee to post-Rhee, other than the fact (not apparent in this graph) that the proportion of white students at most grades has vastly increased in DCPS: in a word, because of gentrification. In any case, white kids in DC continue to score a lot higher in 4th grade NAEP math than white kids in other public urban school systems (dotted green line near the top).

(2)    Among Hispanic students, it appears that the trends after 2008 in DCPS for fourth-grade math students aren’t so favorable to the pro-mayoral-control side of the argument: from 2003 through 2009, their scores were increasing at a pretty amazing rate (solid purple line) until they matched the scores of Hispanic students in all US urban school systems (dotted purple line). After that year, those scores went down or leveled off. Again, no miracle.

(3)    Among black students at this grade level, if the trends for 2003-2007 had continued, the bottom orange line for black 4th-graders in math would be a bit higher than it is now, largely because there was in fact no growth from 2009 to 2011.

(4) It’s a bit harder to see, but the hispanic-white and black-white achievement gaps at this grade level continues to be a lot larger in DC than it is in the nation’s urban school systems. Twice as wide, in fact. So, again, no sign of success.

Overall: no evidence here whatsoever of any of the promised miracles. In fact, if anything, growth was a little worse, overall, after Rhee, than it was before Rhee.

Now let’s look at achievement levels for 4th grade math students with disabilities (ie special education), ELLs (English Language Learners) and those in regular education, both here in DC and in all US urban public school systems. Here, I chose to plot the percentages of students who are “Basic” or above, rather than the average scale score. You could plot scale scores yourself, if you like.

pct students basic or above DCPS and nation by disability - 4th grade math NAEP TUDA

(A score of “Basic” on the NAEP corresponds to “Proficient” on the DC-CAS and other state-administered NCLB and RttT tests.)

Notice that most of these lines show an overall upward trend for this period. The top line (dotted, green) is the percent of all public-school, regular-education students in urban public school systems who score “Basic” or above on the fourth-grade math NAEP. The  solid, maroon/brown line represents the same measurement for regular 4th-grade math students here in DC. Notice that both the dotted green and solid brown lines are going up pretty steadily, with no particular change in trend on either side of the vertical orange line. Which means that mayoral control seems not to have changed  to past trends one way or the other.

The olive-colored, dotted line represents percentages of fourth-grade students of English as a second language in all of our urban public schools. As you can see, the trend is a slow but steady increase. However, in DC public schools, since 2009, the corresponding line (solid, sky blue) is trending downwards. Why? I have no idea, but it’s not a favorable argument for continued mayoral control, since before Fenty and Rhee took over DCPS, the trend was certainly upwards.

With special education students, I used a dotted purple line for all national urban public school students, and a solid orange lines for those in DC public schools. I have no idea why the percentage of 4th-grade math students scoring “Basic” or above went down across the nation’s cities after 2008, while it had been going up modestly but steadily before that date. Clearly, the trends in special-education scores in DCPS are even more mysterious: a continuation of past trends in 2009, a fairly large drop in 2011, and a fairly large increase in 2013. In any case, if you were to extrapolate the orange pre-Rhee line past the central line, I suspect you’d come to about  the same place we are in right now (2013).

Again, this is evidence that all the churn, upheaval, anguish, money, and curriculum impoverishment of the past 6 years in the District of Columbia has all been for naught. We would have gotten the same results with the system we had in place beforehand.

 

My conclusion: any progress in DCPS appears to be a continuation of trends that show up very clearly as going back ten years, well before the DC city council, with the blessing of Congress, abolished the school board and handed control of the public schools over to a chancellor appointed and responsible to a mayor.

Published in: on December 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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Graphs and Analysis of Trends in DC (regular and charters) from EdCORE to the DC Auditor

When the DC Mayor and City Council passed the law that got rid of the DC Board of Education and turned over the schools to the Mayor and his Chancellor, they also required there to be an audit, supposedly to see if things improved.

An audit has now been prepared by a group called EdCORE and submitted to the DC Auditor for the years 2006-7 through 2010-11, and it’s not very pretty.

So you won’t hear much about it, except, probably, from me.

Basically it shows that overall, there has been very little progress, even though the EduDeformers have been very successful in getting their way:

  •  Constant churn of teachers and administrators;
  •  Wholesale elimination of experienced personnel;
  •  Both parents and teachers have lost any ability to fight back against what they perceive as bad ideas;
  •  Near-collapse of regular public school system as parents, seeing no options, flee to charters that advertise constantly.

After six years now of the Rhee-Fenty-Henderson-Gray regime, let’s see what we get. Not much.

First, let’s look at the overall percentages of students scoring at or above the proficient level in both reading and math, as reported on the DC-CAS. The authors of the report caution repeatedly and strongly that since we know that there has been a lot of cheating by adults on the DC-CAS, these numbers may not be reliable at all.

I would also like to add that the very first year that DCPS used the DC-CAS was during SY 2006-7, at which point scores dropped drastically from previous years, when we had been using a different test altogether (The Stanford-9). It is common knowledge that when a school system starts using a new test, scores drop across the board, until teachers have learned how to prepare students for the new test; after a year or two, the scores rise a bit, then often stabilize.

That looks like what’s happened in DC, both in the regular public schools and in the charter schools.

In any case, there is no evidence of enormous progress in either one of these graphs; note that scores are essentially flat for the last three reported years. (Kind of a pity that they didn’t report on 2011-12.)

overall bb and P or A on dc-cas 2006 to 2011

The second graph shows the percentage of students scoring in the Below Basic category, which is the lowest level. Since 2008-9, there has essentially been no significant progress…

BY WARD

I’ve tried to make the next two graphs clearer than the ones given in the report. They show what percentage of students scored ‘proficient’ or better in the various wards of the city. If you know anything about Washington DC, you know that it’s mostly a very segregated town, both by income and by race. The very poorest students live in Wards 7 and 8, on the east bank of the Anacostia River, and are almost 100% African-American. The wealthiest and whitest and best-educated families live in wards 3 and 2.  (I live in Ward 5, which currently has no public middle schools at all!)

Since Rhee & Henderson and their cronies have replaced the vast majority of teachers and administrators in DC, replacing all of us with inexperienced, untrained, but “excellent” Teach for America temps and so on, then they must have CRUSHED that achievement gap between Ward Three and Ward Eight (i.e., between Spring Valley & Chevy CVhase DC on the one hand, and Barry Farms and Congress Heights on the other)?

Nope. See for yourself. I color-coded the wards. Do you see any real narrowing of those gaps? I don’t.

percentage of students at or above prof in reading by WARD

The next graph shows the percentage of students who are at the lowest reading level, “Below Basic”. If you understand real estate values, it is no surprise that the ward with the most expensive homes (Ward 3) continues to have the smallest fraction of students at the bottom reading level. And no surprise that the ward with the least expensive houses and apartments (ward 8) has the highest percentages of students at the bottom reading level.

It’s the same pattern all over the world, not just here in the US.percent below basic - reading - by ward

Next: teacher and administrator churn…

Report from EdCORE to DC Auditor’s Office Gives More Evidence that the Emperor (the EduDeformers) wear no clothes

I began looking at the  EdCORE report {GWU, Mathematica, A.I.R. et al} to the DC Auditor’s Office on the DCPS system from 2006 up until 2011 on my iphone while I was riding the subway late last night, and found evidence that if a teacher is unfortunate enough to teach in a high-poverty school, they are much, much more likely to get low IMPACT and IVA scores, get fired, transfer out, and/or quit.

Couldn’t get much more than a peek, however.

I also noticed that brand-new teachers generally get lower IMPACT scores and so on, no matter where they teach.  And that huge numbers of DC teachers and administrators now have 3 years or less of actual teaching experience.

While scores are pretty much flat.

But remember the Educational Deformista’s own argument: after all, it’s not poverty or distressed family life or anything else that is causing record chronic unemployment and the de-industrialization of America along with those pesky record profits and wealth increases for the rich.

No, it was supposedly us veteran teachers who had all conspired to go into teaching precisely so we could be lazy, get cushy no-work jobs, get rich with our extravagant pension funds and health benefits, though in fact we supposedly do our best to hold poor kids back. {according to the Deformistas and their allies in the media}

{Actually, that’s what bank presidents and such do, innit? While they claim they are hard at work, they are sitting around in splendid offices either playing with a computer or schmoozing with others in their stratum or out having fabulously expensive vacations — which of course are written off as business expenses, because they continue to play around on their computers and schmooze with other wealthy types, planning on how to bend or make the rules so they become even richer… And when they quit one company to go to another one, they bget tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and stock options and so on as a ‘platinum parachute’…. The ratio of income and wealth in the world and in the US between the captains of finance and the common people is higher now than ever before — Third World standards.

But supposedly, Gates and Jobs were worth every penny, right? We must certainly agree that none of the rest of us have any creativity. Only a handful of people had the smarts to build successful bandwagons by guessing which way they could steer public opinion towards their inventions… (sarcasm implied) While there are lots and lots of people inventing stuff and trying to keep poor kids and widows and orphans out of misery by either educating them or making sure they get social services or medical services — we don’t count. If we have poor clients, it’s because we made them poor. Right? (sarcasm again)}

And according to that brave billionaire’s saga, if we veteran teachers and social workers were all were replaced by Teach For America and its clones (dc teaching fellows, NTP, “Broad jump academy” etc) with absolutely no training or experience, and if sufficiently many DC and other urban public schools are closed down, denigrated, starved, and disorganized rapidly enough to force most of the kids into the [almost-equally-unsuccessful-by-their-own-measuring-srick charter schools [remember, the ones that are supposedly successful have absolutely astronomical pushout or dropout or attrition rates, as has been abundantly documented)] …. well, if the Deformistas like Henderson, Rhee, Kopp, the Koch Brothers, various hedge fund managers like DFER, the Waltons, and Bill Gates got their way like that, the prediction by Erik Hanushek and others was that all of the scores for poor urban kids of color would go up like crazy. Why, don’t you know, since they had at least three years in a row of brand-new, inexperienced but ‘excellent’ teachers (since their previous veteran, un-excellent teachers generally retired, quit, or got fired based on a random-number-generating scheme, then poor black and hispanic kids would completely crush that achievement gap between then and the kids attending St. Albans or Sidwell or Maret or Groton or Phillips Exeter or TJ Science Academy in Arlington or the Bronx HS of Science, and we would see enormous numbers of poor urban HS grads would now entering the Ivy Leagues on full scholarships in record numbers.

Isn’t that right?

No?

It ain’t happening?

Yes, but scores for black and hispanic kids are increasing, in general!!

— True, they’ve been generally going up since the mid-1970s, when the government first started measuring this. The gaps have grown a LOT smaller in that time, especially right up to the year when “A Nation At Risk” was published — 1983. At that point, the gaps between poor kids and the non-poor stopped narrowing, pretty much. At some grade levels and subjects, black and hispanic kids are now scoring higher than non-poor white kids back in the 1970 or 80s, which is a signicant amount of progress.

BUT all the good trends happened WAY before the billionaires started trying to control public education in an utterly undemocratic manner, completely bypassing any public input.

These days, as the report noted, the only way for the public to change education policy is to vote out a mayor or a president.

Unfortunately for that argument, both parties, once they get into power, follow almost exactly the same policies on education. Show me how Gray and Henderson have differed in anything except abrasive rhetoric from Fenty and Rhee when it comes to education. Hated NCLB under Bush and that education fraud from Texas? Vote them out, and you get even morer of the same, four times as badly, under Obama and Duncan!

Percentages of poor urban kids at first-tier universities continues to slide, you say? It’s more of the kids of the wealthy there, partly because of certain financial changes …. while college loan debt is actually now LARGER than ordinary credit card debt? And it can essentially NEVER be written off, even if you file for bankruptcy? (said in a fake-naive voice)

Say it ain’t so, Joe! (fake-naive, sarcasm)

But none of those rosy predictions by the Deformista that has come true. Scores are flat. And profits and wealth for the 1% of 1% are way, way up. And so are futures in EduBusiness shares and funds in general…

When the DCAuditor site comes back up I’ll have more to say.

More on Gaps – This Time, 8th Grade Math NAEP TUDA

This year, the 8th grade math NAEP TUDA results are the only place where the scores in DCPS appear to be going up, but the gap between the top students and bottom students is getting significantly larger.

(Wait until we look at the reading results…)

If you need a little background information, take a look at yesterday’s post for a bit of explanation of what the percentiles mean.

I begin with a graph and table of the gaps in 8th grade math for all US public school students from 2003 to 2011.

As you can see, these scores, which are for all US 8th grade students in public schools, have been slowly but steadily rising since 2003. The gaps between the highest-achieving and lowest-achieving students have been fairly steady or else getting a bit smaller, if you look at the gap between those at the 75th percentile and those at the 25th percentile.

Now let’s look at a similar graph for students in large cities:

While these scores are also rising, I notice one thing that’s different from the previous graph: the kids at the 10th percentile in US large cities score extremely low. That’s the dark blue line at the bottom of the graph, separated from the other lines by a much larger gap than any I’ve noticed before. This phenomenon also shows up because the “90-10 gap” is much larger in this graph than in the previous one.

Now let’s look at the graph and table for Washington DC public schools. Recall that charter school students are excluded from this data starting in 2009.

Quite a different-looking graph, don’t you think? It’s almost like it’s beginning to open up to the right like a fan, because the top teal-colored line, which represents scores of the students at the top of the achievement scale (those at the 90th percentile), and the purple one just below it, are going up faster and faster, leaving the others behind. In 2009, after two years of Rhee, students at the 25th and 10th percentile dropped. To be fair, we don’t know if that drop is real, or is a result of the fact that so many students migrated to charter schools.

We do see that students at the 10th and 25th percentiles had their scores rise significantly in 2011 over 2009, so now they are a couple of points higher than they were in 2007, but that change is not statistically significant.

However, it is clear that overall, the gap in DCPS between the top scorers and the lowest scorers is widening. The 90-10 gap used to be 90 points back in 2003, but has risen to a new high of 107 points in 2011. The 75-25 gap has also reached a new high of 55 points, climbing from 48 points.

Now let’s look at the large city 200 miles to our northeast. I am referring to New York City, of course.

Unlike in DC, where we saw the lines getting farther apart as we move towards the present, in NYC the lines get closer together, which means that the gap between the high-achievers and low-achievers is getting smaller.

But not in a good way.

What is happening in New York’s public schools is that the scores of the students at the top and middle actually dropped over the past 2 years, while the scores of the students at the very bottom (10th percentile) continued to rise. That’s one way to narrow the gap, but it’s the wrong way.

So much for educational miracles happening under undemocratic control of the schools by Mayor Bloomberg! (Remember please that Bloomberg was the person who recommended Michelle Rhee to Adrian Fenty as another miracle-maker.)

Finally, let’s look at Atlanta.

Here we see a pattern that’s different from what we saw elsewhere. The various colored lines seem to be moving just about in lockstep with each other. The gap between the highest and lowest achievers hasn’t changed by much.

—————

Now go back and look at all of those scores.

Have the students in DC miraculously overtaken students in other large cities, or the nation, as essentially promised by the education DEform crowd? No.

Are they on the road to doing so? Heck, no.

Have Rhee, Fenty, Henderson, Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and Vincent Gray delivered any educational miracles in DC or New York? Definitely not.

Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 11:02 am  Comments (1)  
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