Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stupid is right:

Alex Pareene on Michelle Rhee:
Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, champion of "education reform," is a right-wing folk hero because while working for the public she combined corporatist policy with open contempt for the public. An ostensible Democrat, she now advises Republican governors on how best to battle the nefarious teachers' unions, which, in her reckoning, are almost solely responsible for poor student performance. Her solutions to the "education crisis" mostly involve the privatization of public schools. Her qualifications, besides having all the currently fashionable opinions, are her successes as head of Washington's schools. Test scores increased during her tenure! In some places, they increased dramatically!

But USA Today reported yesterday that the test improvements were, in many cases, a bit suspicious. ...

And Rhee responded, last night. Not by answering any specific charge, at all, but by reasserting her essential rightness about everything, and the wrongness of her awful critics.
"It isn't surprising," Rhee said in a statement Monday, "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."
I'm sorry, but this is the "haters gonna hate" defense. It's just a blanket assertion of bias without any sort of attempt to refute the actual charges leveled against her.
Rhee, since then:
Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee backed away Wednesday from her vehement criticism of a USA Today story on concerns about standardized tests during her tenure, acknowledging that some cheating may have occurred.

In an interview with Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews, Rhee said that some of her initial comments were “stupid.”
Stupid, indeed.

But the Washington Post editors, supporters of Rhee's management and apparently unaware of the latest news, steps out and defends her:
ANYTIME THERE is a suggestion a school may have cheated its way to showing improved student achievement, there is reason for serious concern. That’s why D.C. school officials hired a high-priced outside expert to investigate what appeared to be anomalies on a number of student test sheets. It’s also why it is prudent for the system to take another look at the schools where tests were called into question. But to use the issue of erasure marks at a handful of schools to disparage the very real improvements made in recent years by D.C. schools is irresponsible.

[Attention] centered on Crosby S. Noyes Education Center in Northeast Washington, credited with dramatic boosts in student achievement. There were extraordinarily high numbers of erasures for three years at the school. One Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on a 2009 reading test when the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than one.

Experts caution against any simplistic reading of erasure rates; there are many innocent explanations for changed answers.
There are good comments in the Post's report (2nd link) and the editorial (3rd link).


Let me offer one scenario in which erasures indicate improved performance: The kids have improved to the point that they are conscientious about their performance and they find that they complete the test early and have time to go back over it and correct their own mistakes.

By Anonymous Rockie the Dog, at 3/31/2011 3:33 PM  

Please do not take my last post as a defense of Ms. Rhee. That was not my intention or my volition.

By Anonymous Rockie the Dog, at 3/31/2011 3:34 PM  

But, but, but, Oprah likes her. How could she be dishonest?

[James Frey, the Secret people....]

By Blogger gmoke, at 3/31/2011 8:42 PM  

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