Can we call it a cover-up now? Michelle Rhee had early warning on rampant cheating in D.C. schools
Michelle Rhee knew more about likely widespread cheating on standardized tests than she has admitted, and knew it much earlier, than she has admitted. A high level of wrong-to-right erasures on tests at dozens of schools came to light two years ago, but there still hasn't been the kind of full investigation that led to the indictment of 35 administrators and teachers in Atlanta. Now, PBS reporter John Merrow has obtained a memo from an outside consultant showing that Rhee knew about the cheating early on and knew that they were not restricted to a handful of schools—and did nothing to stop it.
Why not subpoena everyone in D.C. cheating scandal — Rhee included? (update)
I’ve been working furiously on the Erasure Study. It is common knowledge that in the high stakes testing community that one of the easiest ways for teachers to artificially inflate student test scores is to erase student wrong responses to multiple choice questions and recode them as correct …. There are 191 representing 70 schools that are implicated in possible testing infractions by the study….In the memo Sanford details data at one school, Aiton Elementary, where there was a big leap in reading and math test scores over a single year, and where teachers were rewarded with bonuses for the rise as part of Rhee’s merit pay plan. But he also wrote:
Aiton is NOT the only school in this situation.There have been several investigations into suspicions of D.C. test cheating, which were raised in an investigation published by USA Today in 2011 that raised questions about the validity of the District’s test scores under Rhee.
She was assigned to one of the lowest-performing schools, in a neighborhood that reminded her parents of a war zone. She had difficulty controlling her classroom the first year. She has said the stress gave her hives, and that she once put small pieces of masking tape on the children's mouths so they would be quiet on the way to the lunchroom. Rhee told Washingtonian magazine that she was demoralized by her first year of teaching, but said to herself, "I’m not going to let eight-year-old kids run me out of town", and took more courses in education and received her teachers' certification. Rhee first year test scores showed a precipitous drop in her class: Average math percentile dropped from 64% to 17%. Average reading percentile dropped from 37% to 21%.References:
She told The New York Times that the students she taught her second and third years had national standardized test scores that were initially at the 13th percentile—but at the end of two years, the class was at grade level, with some students performing at the 90th percentile. Earlier she had said on her resume that 90 percent of her students had attained scores at the 90th percentile. In 2010, a retired math teacher unearthed test score data on Rhee's Baltimore school which indicated that her students' scores went up during the 2nd and 3rd years, but that the percentile gains were less than half what Rhee claimed: In Math her scores went from 22 percentile to 52 percentile, an average increase of 15 percentile annually. In reading, her scores went from 14 percentile to 48 percentile, an average increase of 17 percentile annually. Rhee claimed that the discrepancies between the official test scores and the ones she claimed on her resume were because her principal at the time had informed her of the gains but those results may not have been the official state tests that were preserved.