Jul 22, 2009

Rhee's Gaming The NCLB System

She's Got Game !
"Gaming the System means, simply, using the rules, policies and procedures of a system against itself for purposes outside what these rules were intended for. Most of the time, a set of rules will be put in place towards a simple goal. People who study the rules closely can then use this massive (often contradictory) ruleset to play the "game" their own, unexpected way."

On paper, DCPS has showed gains in improving its standardized test scores. But WaPo staff writer Bill Turque's article on July 17 as well as a July 20 WaPo letter to the editor by James Crawford support that Chancellor Michell Rhee is manipulating statistics to make DC Schools appear better than they really are. A review of the literature reveals that it isn't uncommon practice for jurisdictions to game the system under NCLB by finding loopholes in the 2002 law that measures annual progress of all students' reading and math at grade level by the year 2014.

A few of the common tactics used to game the system include:

1. limiting the number of test scores used to chart progress in closing the achievement gap between minority and white students. The higher a jurisdiction sets a subgroup size, the more groups such as disabled students and other subgroups are excluded. For instance setting a group to a size of 40 may exclude disabled students if the school does not have a population of of 40 disabled students.

2. Another commonly used tactic is using the performance index which gives jurisdictions half the credit for students who aren't proficient. This tactic makes it easier for local jurisdictions to make annual progress. In 2005-06, the state of Alabama used this tactic. Since they had up to 85% of their students at the basic level, almost half of their students were counted as proficient using this tactic even though they weren't proficient.

Both the recent Bill Turque article and the Crawford letter (listed below) both underscore the need for an independent evaluation of Chancellor Rhee's reform. This independent evaluation would provide us with an objective overall measure of progress that looks at a many variables other than just DC-CAS score which can be manipulated. Some of the other variables that would probably be considered include high school graduation rate , National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) a test taken by a cross-section of students in each jurisdiction as well as a number of other critical factors. The editorial titled Education Chicanery in the District by James Crawford from the Institute on Language and Education Policy delves into what Crawford characterizes as deceptive testing tactics by the Rhee administration that provides misleading results. Here it is in its entirety:

Educational Chicanery in the District

"Bill Turque provided some valuable insights into the manipulation of student test scores for political advantage [
"Testing Tactics Helped Fuel D.C. School Gains," Metro, July 17]. Removing low scorers from the testing pool is an effortless way to raise average scores and create the illusion of progress for D.C. schools. But it prevents any fair comparison with test results from prior years.

Intensive teaching to the test, especially for students on the cusp of "proficiency," is even more pernicious. It destroys the validity of academic assessments, which are designed to sample a broad range of skills and knowledge. Narrowing instruction to items expected to be on the test is like holding a match under the thermostat. It produces misleading results, not to mention an impoverished curriculum.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee have taken credit for what they call "steady gains" by students. But pumping up test scores by artificial means tells us nothing about whether children are learning. It's too bad The Post relied on a euphemism -- "improved statistical housekeeping" -- to characterize these deceptive tactics. A more accurate description would be "gaming the system."

Institute for Language and Education Policy

Posted by The Washington Teacher

editorial courtesy of WaPo, definition courtesy of wiktruth


Anonymous said...

Data was cooked at St. Hope Charter School when Rhee was Chairperson of the Board for Kevin Johnson. We all know their level of familiarity.

Concerned Parent said...

There is similar discussion on the community listserves. Rhee is onher way out.

Let's buy her 1-way ticket so she can live happily ever after with KJ, who allegedly loves to molest young girls. (Read the Sacramento Bee newspaper)

Kings said...

Concerned Parent - if discussions on message boards could get Rhee out, she be gone by now -- somehow, we need to take real action.

I got an email about a protest on the hill tomorrow - is that on your community listserv? Here it is:

From: Ruth Castel-Branco [mailto:Rcastel@dclabor.org]
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 3:17 PM
Subject: Tomorrow: Save DC Public Schools, Protest Rhee and Reinoso

On Thursday July 23, 2009 Chancellor Rhee, Deputy Mayor Victor Reinoso and Dr. Kerri Briggs (OSSE) will testify on student achievement and learning issues before the US Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management in a hearing titled Taking Stock of Education Reform. We urgently need parents, community members, teachers and others who are willing to come out and protest tomorrow on about what is happening in our schools.

WHEN: July 23, 2009, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building in Room 342. Meet at 2nd &
Constitution Avenue.
Bring an ID with you.

Can't make it? Email Senator Akaka, Senator Voinovich, Senator Levin, Senator Bennet today about learning issues, student achievement and other concerns in our schools to their emails are listed below:

senator@akaka.senate.gov (chairman)
senator_voinovich@voinovich.senate.gov (ranking minority member)

Anonymous said...

Kings is one hundred percent correct about getting up and doing something. However, here is a link that PROVES her boyfriend likes young girls, all the more reason to stop their education movement:

Public document with official details about the sexual misconduct:


Sexual misconduct:

Article about allegations on sexual misconduct:

Details about young girl when he played for the Suns:

Anonymous said...

Now you guys are thinking! Yes, get together with parents and go on the offensive! You can't lose when you work together. There is tremendous strength in numbers.

Good luck from CA.

Alnaves said...

English is taught almost everywhere in the world and millions of people are able to speak, read and write at an adequate level without having set foot on an English speaking country.
Nowhere in the world do you see 8 and 9 year olds with less than one year of language instruction asked to read passages ever day, concentrating mainly on the genre by giving examples from text. Why is distinguishing between historic fiction or realistic non-fiction so important when they do not understand most of the text and have not been exposed to the rules of syntax, grammar and spelling? Is this what inclusion is about?

I guess the name of the game for the "Rock Star Principles" is forcing teachers to have the students see the questions in advance, give the answers, write down everything and drill them weeks or days before the same question appears on the DC CAS exam. And apparently this is not called cheating because they were presented in a different format, not an exact photocopy of the immediate test.

Please take King's advice and email senators Akaka, Voinovich, Bennet and Levin to voice your concerns.

Anonymous said...

Rhee got embarrassed by the GAO report released on Capitol Hill today,

Anonymous said...

Last year after being laid off, I worked as a substitute in many schools, sometimes as long term. Some lower elementary classes were supposed to do extremely sophisticated literary analysis (author's purpose, different genres) when many did not even understand the text or know basic grammar and spelling. I asked the principal who simply said that the chancellor wants inclusion to be implemented at every level to make sure all students are performing at a high level.

I am not trained an a teacher but I see how fundamentally wrong this is. To think that educators and parents are abiding by this is simply mindboggling.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from CA, would you be willing to give information to Candi and to Bill Turque at the Post? Perhaps we could get everything we need with cooperation across the nation. Something has to be done about this woman. I mean seriously.

Fargo was treated horribly when she tried to bring the truth about his actions out. She was rebuked for telling the TRUTH. If Rhee has poor enough judgment to date him despite her young daughters, her judgment about DC's children will not be that much better.

Ellie said...

Anonymous Long Term Sub, you are right that it is fundamentally wrong to expect children to grasp higher level literary concepts when they have not mastered the basic ones.

But we are all at fault, as a community, because we -- taxpayers, parents, homebuyers, politicians, etc. -- are so single-mindedly fixated on test scores. They have been elevated to such an important status that they have become the Holy Grail of Education...and nothing else matters.

We as a nation either bought the bill of goods Bush's NCLB was selling, or we had it forced on us. And now we're seeing how that fixation plays out in the classroom, but we've become too addicted to the Kool Aid to give it up now. Shame on us.

Rhee f'd up in June 2007 when she promised the public an increase in test scores rather than a plan to improve education first. She should have said, "Be patient. Test scores will come, but we have a lot to do first." And then she and Fenty fell all over each other claiming credit for the 2008 increase, although we all know it was likely due to Janey's influence.

Ok, so she f'd up then. She's had 2 years to plan and try to wean the public off their reliance on test scores, right?

Nope. From today's Post: "Victor Reinoso, deputy mayor for education, said the Fenty administration was more interested in results than detailed blueprints."

That should tell you all you need to know right there.

Anonymous said...

And, for the record, when will Reinoso be held accountable for plagiarism -- when he stole another school system's plan and passed it off as his own work? Is he, too, above the law?

Anonymous said...


The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous: The link you cite re inauguration is no longer good.

About a Teaching Fellow in DC. said...

View my experience as a DCTF at