I thought that Michelle Rhee was a fraud when I discovered that her “school reforms” in the DC school district appeared to be to focus on tests, and that she never had any sort of plan for early intervention and pre-school.
If you want to improve education in the future, you get the kids early, when you can give them the most, and longest lasting benefit.
If you intend to pump and dump, you ignore that, focus on tests, and find someone to demonize.
Michelle Rhee got her start in the Teach for America program, which, considering its alumni, is to education what Typhoid Mary is to beefsteak tartar.
In any case, on her resume Rhee claimed that her students at her first position, “That after two years 90 percent of her students had reached the 90th percentile in reading and math.”
The problem is that this is not true. In fact her performance as a teacher, particularly in her years, was an unmitigated disaster which would have gotten her fired by Michelle Rhee, the DC schools administrator.
Jay Matthews, the Washington Post‘s education blogger, takes exception to (first link) takes exception to G.F. Brandenburg’s characterization of Rhee’s work as “lies” (second link), but this is an illustration about how the press in general, and the Kaplan Test Prep company in particular, find calling out obvious lies to be distasteful.
Rhee put numbers on her resume that were well nigh miraculous, but they were false, so either she had access to the numbers, which makes it a lie, or she did not have access to the numbers, and she put the false numbers (she claims that her principal told her) which is also a lie.
But it gets even better, because Michelle Rhee just loves what Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, because, as I have said before, finding an enemy is easier that generating real results.
And now we know that her results were the result of massive systematic fraud:
In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its “shining stars.”
Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes’ students scored “proficient” or “advanced” in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading.
Because of the remarkable turnaround, the U.S. Department of Education named the school in northeast Washington a National Blue Ribbon School. Noyes was one of 264 public schools nationwide given that award in 2009.
Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes’ staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.
A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.
rasures are detected by the same electronic scanners that CTB/McGraw-Hill, D.C.’s testing company, uses to score the tests. When test-takers change answers, they erase penciled-in bubble marks that leave behind a smudge; the machines tally the erasures as well as the new answers for each student.
In 2007-08, six classrooms out of the eight taking tests at Noyes were flagged by McGraw-Hill because of high wrong-to-right erasure rates. The pattern was repeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, when 80% of Noyes classrooms were flagged by McGraw-Hill.
On the 2009 reading test, for example, seventh-graders in one Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on answer sheets; the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than 1. The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians consulted by USA TODAY.
In 2008, the office of the State Superintendent of Education recommended that the scores of many schools be investigated because of unusually high gains, but top D.C. public school officials balked and the recommendation was dropped.
McGraw-Hill’s practice is to flag only the most extreme examples of erasures. To be flagged, a classroom had to have so many wrong-to-right erasures that the average for each student was 4 standard deviations higher than the average for all D.C. students in that grade on that test. In layman’s terms, that means a classroom corrected its answers so much more often than the rest of the district that it could have occurred roughly one in 30,000 times by chance. D.C. classrooms corrected answers much more often.
Remember here, that 4 σ is just where the testing program begins to note irregularities, so we are probably somewhere well into the 6 figures against, and the fact that Rhee and Her Evil Minions™ strongly fought against a meaningful investigation indicates that they either knew, or they were willfully blind, which is the same thing.
But we will be seeing more of this, because Rhee has failed up, and is now running a non-profit that she hopes will raise a billion dollars, and Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, have repeatedly indicated that they would like to repeat her “success”.
Between for profit profiteers, and Ponzi educators like Rhee, the educational reform establishment is toxic.