Twelve More Testing Goals Assessed Today — How Many Did Rhee Succeed At?

Part Fourteen of Many

Once again, we are today comparing promised goals with actual results. This time, it involves the black-white, hispanic-white, and poor-nonpoor achievement gaps on the 2012 DC-CAS.

Once again, Rhee and her enablers don’t fare very well when you compare promised performance to actual performance.

You may recall that Michelle Rhee boasted that if she was able to fire low-performing, incompetent, veteran (read: “black”) teachers, she would be able to shrink those gaps to unprecedented and and almost undetectable levels. For example, she promised that in secondary math, by 2012, there would only be an 11.1% gap in the proficiency rates of students eligible for free-or-reduced-price lunches, and those not eligible for them.

But to quote John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

In fact, that gap was really about twice as wide as the prediction: 21.8%.

Here is the summary table showing how Rhee and her successors and enablers at the helm of DCPS and the DC Government failed in closing any of the twelve gaps that I’m measuring today:

2012 dc-cas ach gaps b-w, h-w, p-np actual +promised

To explain: the greenish column is what Rhee promised to the billionaires’ foundations and Natwar Gandhi and so on. The pink column is what actually occurred. In every case, a small number is a Good Thing, at least to me, because I’d like to see things be more equal in society. However in every pair of numbers, the promised result is a lot lower than the actual result.

For example, the black-white elementary reading gap was promised to be 31.7%. Unfortunately, it was 57.5%. And the secondary black-white reading gap was supposed to be 38.2%, but was actually 52.1%. And so on.

To repeat: Not a single one of these twelve goals was met. Which means that out of 74 goals, she and her band of ‘reformers’ have met one-and-a-half of them which is about a 2.0% success rate; or a failure rate of 98.0%.

corrected failure rate out of 74

Would you hire or trust anybody with a failure rate of NINETY-EIGHT PERCENT?

Me neither.

However, apparently Vincent Gray would, since he can fire Kaya Henderson any time he wants to.


After this installment, there will only be two gaps to go. For me, part of the fun of this was that I really didn’t know how many of these goals had been attained or not. Yes, I had seen Erich Martel’s calculations, and if I recall correctly his results are about the same as mine, so far; but before I began crunching and uncovering these numbers, a little bit at a time, I was convinced he must have made errors. (I just fixed one above: I accidentally added 14 to 62 instead of adding 12 to 62, giving the wrong number of assessed goals. Not that it actually mattered – to the nearest tenth of a percent, 1.5 out of 74 it rounds off to the same result as 1.5 out of 76!)

In my naivete, I just didn’t think it was possible that that Rhee & Henderson could have failed as badly as they apparently did, with absolutely nobody in the media or government paying any attention to it at all. Or anyone else besides Erich and me.

But Erich was right — the failure rate is nearly 100%, and the media, government and public studiously pay no attention.


The saga so far:

  14. (this one)


Once again, let me credit my colleague Erich Martel for coming up with the idea of going back to the original promises and seeing if they were kept or not, and sharing his findings with me. These calculations are generally my own, so if you find any mistakes, don’t blame him. Blame me.

You can find the original spreadsheet for 2012 DC-CAS scores here,  and the original letters containing the promises here.


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…

News from The Washington Teachers’ Union: National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education in DC

Those who are unhappy with the direction of education here in Washington DC, here is a meeting that I think will be worth attending. I plan on being there and hope to have some hard questions ready for Vincent Gray and David Catania, as well as other mayoral candidates both of whom are wrong on some very important points regarding education.

Please come and we can also talk with each other and get to see each other’s faces again.

Here is the blurb from Liz Davis:

National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education in DC
(Event Location:  Eastern High School, 1700 East Capitol St., NE)On Monday, December 9, 2013, over 300 District teachers, school parents, faith community members and organizations such as ours, will gather for a forum and discussion of important issues affecting public education in our city. All mayoral candidates have agreed to attend.
Local unions supporting all school workers (principals, teachers, teacher’s aides, cafeteria workers and custodians) have signed on to participate and support this important Town Hall meeting.

The forum will focus on the  attached “Principles that Unite Us”—which express the common vision for public education that is shared by teachers, parents and community organizations here in the District and across the nation. In scores of cities around the country, December 9th  will be a National Day of Action, when community groups, parents and local leaders are coming together to reclaim the promise of public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic

Mayor Vincent Gray and all other mayoral candidates will participate in a moderated panel discussion addressing the importance of community voices in education policy and practice. Each candidate will have an opportunity to make a two-minute presentation at the beginning of the
discussion that should answer the question: What steps would you take as Mayor to make community voices matter in public education and increase stakeholder engagement?

We hope you will join us! The success of our schools and our children
depend on it!

In unity,

Liz Davis
Elizabeth Davis, President
Washington Teachers Union
1825 K Street, NW Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20006
Office Tel (202) 293-8611
Fax (202) 293-8633

Published in: on December 6, 2013 at 11:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Unreconstructed Caucasia Residents Writing in Fenty

Something I haven’t seen discussed.  Here are the DC BOEE results:

Carlos Allen 2042
Faith 1341
Omari Musa 659
Vincent C. Gray 90552
WRITE-IN 27874
Total 122,468 100.00%

Notice: about 23% of the electorate wrote in a candidate’s name. I am willing to bet that those were almost all for Adrian Fenty, and were almost all cast by white voters, particular those living in “Upper Caucasia”.

I am not alone in thinking this is a disturbing development: a fairly large fraction of the DC voting population, probably overwhelmingly white, apparently rejected the fact that Fenty was overwhelmingly trounced in the Democratic primary in September. And they chose to write in a candidate’s name, probably Adrian Fenty. I have read some of the incredibly racist and tea-party-sounding denunciations of Gray – with no evidence whatsoever to back them up – on comment boards for the WaPo and other places, and it it highly disturbing to me. They very much sound like the folks who accused Obama of being a Muslim, foreign-born socialist who was elected by nobody at all and who was going to take away their guns and Medicare and replace the latter with gummint-run socialized medicine.

All that being said, I am also disturbed that Vince Gray seems to be ingratiating himself in the educational field with the same group of billionaire busybodies who think they have the right to help destroy public education.

Published in: on November 4, 2010 at 1:21 am  Comments (2)  
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