USA Today Shows That Many of the Big Test Score Jumps in DCPS Probably Are Due to Fraud

You MUST read this article in today’s USA Today.

The authors have dug deeply into the suspicious rises in test scores at many DC public schools under Michelle Rhee, and they conclude that a lot of those jumps were almost undoubtedly because somebody changed lots of students’ answers from wrong ones to right ones.

The only question in my mind is who actually did the erasures? Was it the principals themselves, afraid of losing their jobs? Their henchmen assistant principals, or the counsellors, under direct unwritten orders from those principals (and afraid of losing their jobs)? Or was it classroom teachers (also afraid of losing their jobs)?

The authors claim that mathematical probability of so many wrong-to-right erasures happening by chance is about the same as that of winning the Powerball lottery.

The article concentrates most of its focus on Noyes Elementary in Northeast DC, because of the sheer volume of suspicious erasures there. However, DCPS administrators refused to allow the reporters to speak officially to any administrators there, and even refused to allow them to talk to the firm which had been ineffectually investigating prior accusations of fraud.

A number of Noyes parents had for years been protesting to the Noyes administration and to DC School Board officials that their own children’s math and reading scores were suspiciously high. They didn’t feel that their children should be scoring in the “proficient” range if they were struggling with basic reading and writing. They were given the run-around by both the local school administration and by central DCPS administration, and eventually gave up. Some teachers quoted in the article confirmed that for many of their students, the test scores were obviously grossly inflated. The high scores, in any case, didn’t last once the students left the school.

Don’t get the impression that all of the problems happened at Noyes. Many schools had enormous jumps in scores, followed by large cash bonuses for administrators and teachers. Many of those same schools had huge numbers of suspicious erasures.

Also: don’t assume that current or past DCPS administration has any intention of actually digging down into this matter and finding out what really happened. They have been stonewalling this for years.

Meanwhile, at Sharpe Health special education school, and at St. Coletta’s Special Education charter school, well over 90% of the students scored proficient or advanced in both reading and math in the 2010 DC-CAS.

I guess pigs do fly after all.

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