For Whom The Bell Tolls; It Tolls For Rhee

One of the benefits of the Common Core, supposedly, is that we can finally compare the performance of schools in different states.  Originally the dream was that a majority of states would sign on to use common tests from either the PARCC from Pearson or SBAC from Smarter Balanced.

Michelle Rhee-Johnston became chancellor of Washington DC schools in 2007.  As proof that a major problem in education is the absence of standardized test scores in teacher evaluation, Rhee-Johnston frequently said, in speeches, that when she came to DC, only 8% of 8th graders were proficient in math while 97% of teachers were rated as effective.

In a feature on the CNN blog in 2009, it said:

Her plan is ambitious: To completely transform the District’s system within eight years for its 50,000 children. The plan focuses on top-down accountability, quantitative results like standardized test scores and, ultimately, working to close what she describes as “the achievement gap between wealthy white kids and poor minority kids.”

“I think it’s absolutely possible within an eight-year period,” she said.

Reformers are always saying things like “Kids can’t wait.  We have to act with urgency.”  Ironically, though, they seem to have a near infinite amount of patience while watching the test scores in Washington D.C. stagnate after three years of Rhee-Johnston and then five years with her successor, Kaya Henderson, who generally continued the reform agenda that Rhee-Johnston began.

Reformers, particularly Arne Duncan, insist that the new common core tests will force us to “stop lying to ourselves” about how our students are doing.  As students in state after state bomb the common core tests, it serves, for them, as proof that the majority of schools in this country are ‘failing.’

A little over a year ago at a Teach For America event, former TFA Co-CEO Matt Kramer quoted Henderson in a Tweet about how DC was going to do on the new common core tests, “bring on the common core tests.  We are going 2 do not as bad as everyone else is going to do.  Keepin it real.”

Screen shot 2015-10-27 at 10.50.35 PM

Today the high school results for the most recent DC PARCC tests were released.  I should note that it is reformers who pray to the golden calf of standardized test scores, not me.  I don’t think the PARCC or SBAC tests are very good.  I also think that when tests are administered on a computer, students don’t take the test as seriously as they would if the test were a pencil and paper exam.  But since reformers love to shut down schools based on test scores and fire teachers based on test scores, it is important to track how the test scores are in Washington D.C., which is a full scale experiment in what happens when education policy is guided by the Book of Rhee.

In this presentation deck summarizing the results from the tests, I found some interesting data.

The PARCC tests have 5 levels, of which levels 4 is ‘meets expectations’ and level 5 is ‘exceeded expectations.’

cdperflevels

On the English II exam, only 25% passed statewide and DCPS outperformed the charter schools, 27% to 23%.

dcela

In math, the statewide ‘proficiency’ is very close to the number that Rhee-Johnston used to love to quote so much at 10%.  Again, DCPS beat the charter schools with 12% vs just 7% for the charters.

dcmath

So of course the ‘no excuses’ crowd begins making excuses.  But rather than saying that the quality of the PARCC test could be an issue, they instead say things like, “We knew this was going to happen.  We just need to adjust to the new more rigorous standards.”  This may buy them a few years, but I have to wonder how long supposedly ‘data driven’ reformers can continue to ignore data that refute their agenda.

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9 Responses to For Whom The Bell Tolls; It Tolls For Rhee

  1. Michael Fiorillo says:

    “Keepin’ it real.”

    I’ve always known that TFA was evil, but I’m surprised to see they hire morons.

  2. Pingback: Gary Rubinstein on D.C.’s Performance on the PARCC Tests: For Whom the Bell Tolls | Diane Ravitch's blog

  3. Reblogged this on aureliomontemayor and commented:
    Purheed…

  4. sexy witch says:

    ha ha ha ha hee hee rhee is not the sexy witch we though she was

  5. sexy witch says:

    whee wee wee rhee

  6. Do you know if the “Economically Disadvantaged” category is reduced/free lunch or SNAP eligibility (or how this relates to “At risk”)? I can’t seem to find what OSSE means with that term.

    The difference matters, since how D.C.’s lower-income students are classified might have a large effect on analysis outcomes (http://mikethemadbiologist.com/2015/08/06/understanding-the-limitations-of-your-data-at-risk-versus-low-income/)

  7. Jack Covey says:

    I read the following about D.C. schools from Rhee biographer and cheerleader Richard Whitemire on Campbell Brown’s propaganda site “The 74” … at

    https://www.the74million.org/article/whitmire-las-490-million-charter-push-and-crunching-the-costs-of-improving-a-citys-school-system

    I then added a contrasting analysis by former-Rhee-admirer-turned-detractor John Merrow (in the news of late with his reporting an Eva)

    WHITMIRE on WASHINGTON, D.C. SCHOOLS & Michelle Rhee’s impact:

    “Washington, D.C. has a roughly 50-50 mix of charter and traditional schools and is
    universally cited as a model reform city. The two sectors have good
    synergy, with progress on both sides.

    “The charters there are doing a better job with the city’s poor and minority
    students, which leads to calls to increase their numbers in the
    impoverished 7th and 8th Wards. That discussion, however, has
    more to do with capacity (Can the charters really do that?) rather than
    takeover plots.”

    Well that’s ONE opinion.

    Here’s another from John Merrow, who followed Rhee around for three years, doing over a dozen video reports on the effects of her tenure in D.C., and the contemporary state of D.C. schools:

    from …
    http://takingnote.learningmatt

    JOHN MERROW ON D.C. SCHOOLS and Michelle Rhee’s impact:

    “But politicians (and citizens) in those 25 states might want to take a closer look at what she actually accomplished. Sadly, DC’s schools are worse by almost every conceivable measure.

    “For teachers, DCPS has become a revolving door. Half of all newly hired teachers (both rookies and experienced teachers) leave within two years; by contrast, the national average is said to be between three and five years.[28]

    “It was a revolving door for principals as well. Rhee appointed 91 principals in her three years as chancellor, 39 of whom no longer held those jobs in August 2010. Some left on their own; others, on one-year contracts, were fired for not producing quickly enough.[29] She also fired more than 600 teachers.[30]

    “Child psychiatrists have long known that, to succeed, children need stability. Because many of the District’s children face multiple stresses at home and in their neighborhoods, schools are often that rock. However, in Rhee’s tumultuous reign, thousands of students attended schools where teachers and principals were essentially interchangeable parts, a situation that must have contributed to the instability rather than alleviating it.

    “The teacher evaluation system that Rhee instituted designates some teachers as ‘highly effective,’ but, despite awarding substantial bonuses and having the highest salary schedule in the region, DCPS is having difficulty retaining these teachers, 44% of whom
    say they do not feel valued by DCPS.[31]

    “Although Rhee removed about 100 central office personnel in her first year, the central office today is considerably larger, with more administrators per teachers than any district surrounding DC.

    “In fact, the surrounding districts seem to have reduced their central office staff, while DC’s grew.[32] The greatest growth in DCPS has been in the number of employees making $100,000 or more per year, from 35 to 99.[33]Per-pupil expenditures have risen sharply, from $13,830 per student to $17,574, an increase of 27%, compared to 10% inflation in the Washington-Baltimore region.[34]

    “A comparison of pre- and post-Rhee DC-CAS scores shows little or no gain, and most of the scores at 12 of the 14 highest ‘wrong to right’ erasure schools are now lower. Take Aiton Elementary, the school that Sanford wrote about: The year before Rhee arrived, 18% of Aiton students scored proficient in math and 31% in reading. Scores soared to over 60% during the ‘high erasure’ years, but today both reading and math scores are more than 40 percentile points lower.[35]

    “Enrollment declined on Rhee’s watch and has continued under Henderson, as families enrolled their children in charter schools or moved to the suburbs. The year before Rhee arrived, DCPS had 52,191 students. Today it enrolls about 45,000, a loss of roughly 13%.[36]

    “Even students who remained seem to be voting with their feet, because truancy in DC is a “crisis” situation[37], and Washington’s high school graduation rate is the lowest in the nation.[38]

    “Rhee and her admirers point to increases on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an exam given every two years to a sample of students under the tightest possible security. And while NAEP scores did go up, they rose in roughly the same amount as they had under Rhee’s predecessor, and Washington remains at or near the bottom on that national measure.[39]

    “The most disturbing effect of Rhee’s reform effort is the widened gap in academic performance between low-income and upper-income students, a meaningful statistic in Washington, DC because race and income are highly correlated. On the most recent NAEP test (2011) only about 10% of low income students in grades 4 and 8 scored ‘proficient’ in reading and math.

    “Since 2007, the performance gap has increased by 29% in 8th grade reading, by 44% in 4th grade reading, by 45% in 8th grade math, and by 72% in 4th grade math. Although these numbers are also influenced by changes in high- and low-income populations, the gaps are so extreme that is seems clear that low-income students, most of them African-American, did not fare well during Rhee’s time in Washington.[40]”

    ———-

    And that doesn’t even get to her choosing to marry a pedophile.

  8. Jack Covey says:

    Rhee biographer and cheerleader Richard Whitmire wrote about how successful the Rhee-Henderson approach has been in D.C. over at Campbell Brown’s website “The 74”.

    https://www.the74million.org/article/whitmire-las-490-million-charter-push-and-crunching-the-costs-of-improving-a-citys-school-system

    I then contrasted this with what Rhee admirer-turned-detractor John Merrow—a reporter in the news of late in his reporting on Eva’s schools—

    ————–

    WHITMIRE on WASHINGTON, D.C. SCHOOLS & Michelle Rhee’s impact:

    “Washington, D.C. has a roughly 50-50 mix of charter and traditional schools and is
    universally cited as a model reform city. The two sectors have good
    synergy, with progress on both sides.

    “The charters there are doing a better job with the city’s poor and minority
    students, which leads to calls to increase their numbers in the
    impoverished 7th and 8th Wards. That discussion, however, has
    more to do with capacity (Can the charters really do that?) rather than
    takeover plots.”

    Well that’s ONE opinion.

    Here’s another from John Merrow, who followed Rhee around for three years, doing over a dozen video reports on the effects of her tenure in D.C., and the contemporary state of D.C. schools:

    from …
    http://takingnote.learningmatt

    JOHN MERROW ON D.C. SCHOOLS and Michelle Rhee’s impact:

    “But politicians (and citizens) in those 25 states might want to take a closer look at what she actually accomplished. Sadly, DC’s schools are worse by almost every conceivable measure.

    “For teachers, DCPS has become a revolving door. Half of all newly hired teachers (both rookies and experienced teachers) leave within two years; by contrast, the national average is said to be between three and five years.[28]

    “It was a revolving door for principals as well. Rhee appointed 91 principals in her three years as chancellor, 39 of whom no longer held those jobs in August 2010. Some left on their own; others, on one-year contracts, were fired for not producing quickly enough.[29] She also fired more than 600 teachers.[30]

    “Child psychiatrists have long known that, to succeed, children need stability. Because many of the District’s children face multiple stresses at home and in their neighborhoods, schools are often that rock. However, in Rhee’s tumultuous reign, thousands of students attended schools where teachers and principals were essentially interchangeable parts, a situation that must have contributed to the instability rather than alleviating it.

    “The teacher evaluation system that Rhee instituted designates some teachers as ‘highly effective,’ but, despite awarding substantial bonuses and having the highest salary schedule in the region, DCPS is having difficulty retaining these teachers, 44% of whom
    say they do not feel valued by DCPS.[31]

    “Although Rhee removed about 100 central office personnel in her first year, the central office today is considerably larger, with more administrators per teachers than any district surrounding DC.

    “In fact, the surrounding districts seem to have reduced their central office staff, while DC’s grew.[32] The greatest growth in DCPS has been in the number of employees making $100,000 or more per year, from 35 to 99.[33]Per-pupil expenditures have risen sharply, from $13,830 per student to $17,574, an increase of 27%, compared to 10% inflation in the Washington-Baltimore region.[34]

    “A comparison of pre- and post-Rhee DC-CAS scores shows little or no gain, and most of the scores at 12 of the 14 highest ‘wrong to right’ erasure schools are now lower. Take Aiton Elementary, the school that Sanford wrote about: The year before Rhee arrived, 18% of Aiton students scored proficient in math and 31% in reading. Scores soared to over 60% during the ‘high erasure’ years, but today both reading and math scores are more than 40 percentile points lower.[35]

    “Enrollment declined on Rhee’s watch and has continued under Henderson, as families enrolled their children in charter schools or moved to the suburbs. The year before Rhee arrived, DCPS had 52,191 students. Today it enrolls about 45,000, a loss of roughly 13%.[36]

    “Even students who remained seem to be voting with their feet, because truancy in DC is a “crisis” situation[37], and Washington’s high school graduation rate is the lowest in the nation.[38]

    “Rhee and her admirers point to increases on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an exam given every two years to a sample of students under the tightest possible security. And while NAEP scores did go up, they rose in roughly the same amount as they had under Rhee’s predecessor, and Washington remains at or near the bottom on that national measure.[39]

    “The most disturbing effect of Rhee’s reform effort is the widened gap in academic performance between low-income and upper-income students, a meaningful statistic in Washington, DC because race and income are highly correlated. On the most recent NAEP test (2011) only about 10% of low income students in grades 4 and 8 scored ‘proficient’ in reading and math.

    “Since 2007, the performance gap has increased by 29% in 8th grade reading, by 44% in 4th grade reading, by 45% in 8th grade math, and by 72% in 4th grade math. Although these numbers are also influenced by changes in high- and low-income populations, the gaps are so extreme that is seems clear that low-income students, most of them African-American, did not fare well during Rhee’s time in Washington.[40]”

    ———-

    And that doesn’t even get to her choosing to marry a pedophile.

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