Cheating on standardized tests examined by Frontline

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With the increasing reliance on standardized tests to determine education policies, Frontline “raises questions” about possible cheating on test scores touted by controversial Michelle Rhee when she headed Washington, DC schools.

Michelle Rhee has been a major force simplifying education policy into a “teaching to the test” box. This week Frontline raises questions about testing practices by school employees while Rhee was chancellor of Washington, DC schools. Test scores at an award winning school plunged after security was tightened after Rhee’s tenure ended.

Given Rhee’s prominent role pushing standardized testing, it is important that her actual record be compared with her rhetoric.

The show airs tomorrow Tuesday, Jan 8 on Ch. 2 at 10pm and Thursday, Jan 10 on Ch. 44 at 9pm.

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6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Rhee was controversial in a lot of ways.

    I was in DC when she was Chancellor. She fired a bunch of teachers in October, and yes, that was as disruptive to the school year as it sounds.

    • Mixed bag

      I think some of her ideas regarding tenure, mainly drastically increasing teacher pay and tying it to ‘performance’ were interesting but poorly executed. The way we measure preformance sucks, and its also hard to escape the fact that so many students are broken due to outside circumstances (poverty, lack of healthcare, violence) that by the time they get to a teachers classroom there is only so much a teacher can do.

      My experience as a tutor at the Chicago Public Schools confirmed there were far too many chefs in the kitchen continually tinkering with that high schools curriculum, the rules, the personnel, the leadership and then having higher ups make even more top down changes, that the students and teachers, arguably the most important constituencies, got lost in the shuffle. The contract eventually hammered out by Lewis and Emmanuel actually seems like a step in the right direction. Unions are not adversaries, make them partners, make performance based evaluations but add in teacher and principal evaluations and factor in where the kids were when the teacher got them, thats a fair way to go.

      Rhee’s problem is that she wants to be a pragmatic problem solver but ends up getting blinded by her own preference biases for charter schools and against unions, when the evidence is pointing to the fact that charter schools are not a good solution and unions are not the big problem.

  2. Rhee is a flat-out fraud

    Her nonsense goes beyond the cheating scandals and awful treatment of teachers. Just in the past few days her new group has issued a “report card” that grades the states not on education outcomes, but on how aggressively they push her preferred education policies.

    As jconway suggested, she is blinded by her policy biases. Not surprisingly, major factor in her ratings is the weight given by a state to standardized test results. The more you make it all about the test, the more she likes you. What is very funny, though, is that none of her “top 5″ states have math or reading scores in the TOP half on those all-important standardized tests.

    Rhee ranks thinks Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana, which ranks 47th in math and 49th in reading, the “best” state in terms of education policy. DC, her old stomping grounds is 4th in her rankings but dead last (51) in math and reading scores. Massachusetts ranks first in reading, but 14th in her system. Among her eleven “worst” states, the one the group gave a failing grade, three were in the top six in standardized testing (Montana, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Another four in the top 20.

    Apparently relying heavily on the standardized test scores is important for everyone except Michelle Rhee. It’s better to be anti-union with low scores than not anti-union with top scores. Crap like this is why I can’t stand not only Rhee but all this “Third Way” kind of garbage.

  3. Michelle Rhee represents a new, parasitical

    educational class. Trading on their Ivy League background, they enter education through Teach for America to get “experience” and then move straight to a managerial position in a school system or, more often, into some sort of corporatized profit or non-profit educational organization funded by the very rich who want to see education recreated in their own ideological image.

    I wrote this post about the problems these new educational entrepreneurs have with the truth. Michelle Rhee has always distorted her success. Wendy Kopp recently told a whopper about the retention of TFA recruits in teaching. It’s all there with a graphic on their salaries, though I think it leaves out their speaking engagements. I checked and they are registered with organizations that book speakers.

  4. Another link

    another link. The Jersey Jazzman, educational blogger par excellence, posted a scatterplot and the correlation between Student First’s report card and the NAEP for 8th grade. The correlation is negative. There’s more from this guy.

    Michelle Rhee is married to former NBA star Kevin Johnson who traded on his success to become Mayor of Sacramento. He’s a Democratic. Together they represent what Chris Hedges calls the death of the liberal class. Erstwhile liberald who do well by claiming to do good.

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