The Great Ed Reform Swindle

From the since de-beatified “Texas Miracle” of 2000 that inspired the creation of  George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” to the latest revelations about Washington D.C.’s falsified  student test scores under ed reform’s broom-wielding ‘superwoman’ Michelle Rhee, 10 years of the  punitive ed reform agenda and its so-called “successes” have turned out to be a bust.

D.C. mirage under Michelle Rhee:

Resigned D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Alleged academic successes attributed to her ed reform policies are now being revealed as fraudulent.

When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?

“(…) 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 closer look at Noyes, however, raises questions about its test scores from 2006 to 2010. Its proficiency rates rose at a much faster rate than the average for D.C. schools. Then, in 2010, when scores dipped for most of the district’s elementary schools, Noyes’ proficiency rates fell further than average.

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. (…)”

Shame on Michelle Rhee, by Diane Ravitch for the Daily Beast.

“(…)Her celebrity is not built on her success in D.C., however, which now appears to be a chimera.

Her celebrity results from the fact that she has emerged as the national spokesman for the effort to subject public education to free-market forces, including competition, decision by data, and consumer choice. All of this sounds very appealing when your goal is to buy a pound of butter or a pair of shoes, but it is not a sensible or wise approach to creating good education. What it produces, predictably, is cheating, teaching to bad tests, institutionalized fraud, dumbing down of tests, and a narrowed curriculum.”

In second year, Rhee is facing major tests

N.Y. mirage under Joel Klein:

Former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein

On New York school tests, warning signs ignored:  “The fast rise and even faster fall of New York’s passing rates resulted from the effect of policies, decisions and missed red flags that stretched back more than 10 years and were laid out in correspondence and in interviews with city and state education officials, administrators and testing experts.

The process involved direct warnings from experts that went unheeded by the state, and a city administration that trumpeted gains in student performance despite its own reservations about how reliably the test gauged future student success.

(…)  It involved a national push for numbers-based accountability, begun under President George W. Bush and reinforced by President Obama. And it involved a mayor’s full embrace of testing as he sought to make his mark on the city, and then to get re-elected.”

Is New York children learning? New test scores admit defeat

Test scores plummet across state

Charleston mirage under Maria Goodloe-Johnson:

Former Charleston School Superintendent (and recently fired Seattle School Superintendent) Maria Goodloe-Johnson

School’s success gives way to doubt

“(…)  As test scores rocketed at her school, Sanders-Clyde Elementary, the city held her up as a model. The United Way and the Rotary Club honored her, The Charleston Post and Courier called her a “miracle worker,” and the state singled out her school to compete for a national award. In Washington, the Department of Education gave the school $25,000 for its achievements.

Somehow, Ms. Moore had transformed one of Charleston’s worst schools into one of its best, a rare breakthrough in a city where the state has deemed more than half the schools unsatisfactory. It seemed almost too good to be true.

It may have been. The state has recently started a criminal investigation into test scores at Ms. Moore’s school, seeking to determine whether a high number of erasure marks on the tests indicates fraud.(…)”

Chicago mirage under Arne Duncan (“Renaissance” or Nonsense?):

Former "CEO" of Chicago Public Schools, current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan

Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 schools earn a mixed grade

“Renaissance 2010 has shaken the school system. It’s added schools and painfully subtracted others. It’s removed teachers and shifted students. It’s cost millions. (…) And we found Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 schools earn very mixed grades.”

Atlanta erasures under Beverly Hall:

Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools Beverly Hall

In Georgia, test-answered erasures trigger criminal probe

“The same kind of high erasure rates that have been reported on standardized tests in Washington, D.C., schools also spurred intensive investigations by state and federal authorities in Georgia during the past two years.

The tactics used in Georgia are sharply different, however, from those employed in Washington: Georgia is conducting a criminal investigation that could lead to prosecutions.

Fifty agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, an agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, began in October 2010 to question teachers and principals at 58 Atlanta schools where there were statistically significant rates of wrong answers changed to right ones on students’ answer sheets. The agents are conducting one-on-one private interviews with educators. It is a felony in Georgia to lie to a law enforcement officer.”

Scandal haunts Atlanta’s school chief

109 Atlanta educators suspected of test cheating

Texas mirage under Rod Paige (and others) which led to the creation of “No Child Left Behind”:

Rod Paige, former Houston School Superintendent and Secretary of Education under Pres. George W. Bush

The Myth of the Texas Miracle in Education: “The gains on TAAS and the unbelievable decreases in dropouts during the 1990s are more illusory than real. The Texas “miracle” is more hat than cattle.”

The lies behind Bush’s “Texas Miracle”

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In short, the current ed reform formula, leading all the way back to “Bush’s No Child Left Behind” and continued under President Obama’s “Race to the Top” scheme – incessant high-stakes testing, standardized curricula, tying teacher pay to student test scores, handing public schools over to private charter franchises, punitive measures and school closures – has not improved student academic achievement. Instead, it has resulted in a rash of fraud and false claims.

— Sue p.