Countdown Clocks

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Posts tagged "StudentsFirst"

h/t: Rachel Baye at

HELL NO, Rhee’s policies have destroyed several school districts, including DC. 

Michelle Rhee continues her descent into parody. You might have thought that teaching students to read would be a good way to evaluate educational performance, but no. Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization has released a report card grading states—on their education policies, not their educational results. In fact, not one of the states StudentsFirst ranks in the top five is in the top half of states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, “the nation’s report card,” when it comes to eighth grade reading scores, and only one is in the top half when it comes to eighth grade math.

  • Louisiana is the top-rated state, according to StudentsFirst. It ranks 49th of 51 on eighth grade reading scores and 47th of 51 on eighth grade math scores.
  • Florida is StudentsFirst’s second-best state according to ideology. According to educational results, Florida is 35th on reading and 42nd on math.
  • StudentsFirst says Indiana is third. The “nation’s report card” says it’s 30th on reading and 23rd on math.
  • The District of Columbia, where Rhee had her way from 2007 to 2010, comes in fourth according to Rhee’s ranking system. According to the NAEP? Dead last.
  • Rhode Island is fifth in Rhee-land. It’s 29th in both reading and math on the NAEP.

By contrast, of the 11 states Rhee rates as having the worst policies for education, three are in the top six for eighth grade reading scores on the NAEP, and four more are in the top 20. Another contrast: The three highest-scoring states on reading are Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Rhee scores them 14th, 21st and 18th.

Bear in mind that this complete disregard for educational results as measured by the gold-standard standardized test comes despite the fact that the StudentsFirst report card ranks states more highly for relying on standardized testing in teacher evaluations. (One reason the NAEP is the gold standard, by the way, is that it’s less likely to be the subject of the kind of cheating that seems to have happened in D.C. under Rhee’s leadership since it’s not high-stakes so the incentive to cheat is low.)

Michelle Rhee’s ideas for education are wrong for our nation.

H/T: Laura Clawson at Daily Kos

"Why won’t Michelle Rhee talk to USA Today," the New York Times asks.

USA Today, of course, broke the story of suspicious erasure patterns on standardized tests taken by Washington, D.C. students during Rhee’s tenure as the city’s schools chancellor. The story was the product of serious investigative journalism by reporters Jack Gillum and Marisol Bello, who marshaled significant amounts of data as well as talking to parents, academics, DC schools administrators and the consultant hired to do a cursory investigation of the possibility of cheating. But Rhee would not talk to them.

Now, the Times is telling the story of Rhee’s refusal. Michael Winerip contrasts her typical eagerness to talk to the press—”It’s hard to find a media outlet, big or small, that she hasn’t talked to. […] Always, she preens for the cameras”—with her determined evasion of the USA Today reporters:

The reporters made a dozen attempts to interview Ms. Rhee, directly and through her public relations representatives. Ms. Bello called Ms. Rhee’s cellphone daily, and finally got her on a Sunday.

"She said she wasn’t going to talk with us," Ms. Bello recalled. "Her understanding was we were writing about" district schools "and she is no longer chancellor."

Never mind that they were writing about alleged cheating that went on during her tenure as chancellor, in at least one school that she touted as an exemplar of her success. After the article came out, Rhee lashed out at it as the product of flat-earther enemies of education reform; she subsequently realized that that maybe hadn’t been the best approach and went with the a few bad apples approach, calling for an investigation because you never know what teachers and principals might do. Again, never mind that she, as chancellor, had only agreed to the most cursory investigation and that under some pressure. But:

The reporters did not give up. On April 26, Emily Lenzner, a spokeswoman, wrote Mr. Gillum, “Michelle is willing to do an interview, but we’d like to do this in person.” She asked if they could hold their story, and arranged for a meeting on May 3 at the StudentsFirst office in Washington.

On May 2, another Rhee spokeswoman e-mailed to say the reporters were too interested in cheating and not enough in StudentsFirst. She said they could submit a list of questions.

There were 21 questions; Ms. Rhee did not answer 10 of the 11 about cheating.

Rhee has built her career as a prominent voice for a particular brand of education reform, as a media star, as a partner of Republican governors, on the record she claims she amassed as DC schools chancellor. Her claims of test score increases are at the dead center of the public image she relentlessly, preeningly flogs. And if that is built on cheating and cover-ups, well, she’s not the chancellor anymore, it was all a flat-earther plot, and maybe a few principals and teachers can’t be trusted, but beyond that she’s not commenting.

Nor is the Washington, D.C. school system’s current leadership doing much to uncover what really went on: Winerip reports that in contrast to the robust investigation into Atlanta’s cheating scandal, DC’s so-called investigation has been characterized by a lack of manpower, persistence and transparency. It seems that Rhee’s successors don’t want questions answered any more than Rhee wants to answer them.

H/T: Laura Clawson at Daily Kos Labor