Michelle Rhee was to D.C. school as…
If you ask many champions of educational reform, the former Chancellor of D.C.’s Public Schools was the change the city’s children needed. Rhee was hailed as a tour de force in the District’s schools and in the national press. The Ivy League grad and Teach for America alumni was positioned as a glimmer of hope, not only for public school system in the nation’s capital, but for schools nationwide.
After resigning last October, Rhee made headlines for her appearances in the acclaimed documentary, “Waiting For Superman” and on The Oprah Winfrey Show, as many speculated she would soon take her approach to a larger stage.
However, new data from the D.C. schools that Rhee held as a symbol of achievement via results, is casting doubt on the myth of the former chancellor’s brand of educational reforming magic.
The Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus, was one of the schools that Rhee repeatedly cited as proof that her approach to overhaul schools in the district was working. In 2008, the school reported dramatic improvement in standardized test scores, with the percentage of students scoring “proficient” or “advanced” in math jumping from a dismal 10 percent to 58 percent in the course of just two years.
Rhee rewarded those attributed for Noyes’ remarkable progress with bonuses, up to $8,000 for teachers and $10,000 its principle in 2008 and again in 2010.
This week, in an article that has sparked heated debate, USA Today released the findings of its investigation into allegations that the scores from Noyes’ students were not wholly reflective of improvement, but coaching or cheating instead.
Documents secured under Washington D.C.’s Freedom of Information act found that the students at Noyes reported a high rate of erasures– the changing of answers on their standardized tests. The data showed that not only were students second guessing their responses, but that their second guess usually moved their answers for incorrect to correct.
The data raises serious questions not only about the progress reported at Noyes but also the progress reported across D.C. schools during Rhee’s time as chancellor at large. Rhee addressed the allegations during a segment of The Tavis Smiley Show.
Throughout her time Rhee faced criticism that her approach was not focused enough on the longevity but numbers. Her systematic concentration on test scores angered many within the city’s school system who were laid off through the chancellor’s implementation in response to economic cuts. Many argued the over 200 teachers Rhee fired were the most valuable asset to the education of D.C. students.
Yesterday, Rhee responded to the questions surrounding the Noyes’ school test scores saying:
“It isn’t surprising that the enemies of school reform once again are trying to argue that the Earth is flat and that there is no way test scores could have improved … unless someone cheated.”
What do you think of the Noyes’ school findings? Are they a fluke or evidence that Michelle Rhee’s reform magic was not all it was cracked up to be? Tell us what you think Clutchettes- share your thoughts!