Apr 3, 2011

DC Politicians Don't Care About DCPS Cheating Scandal

by Candi Peterson
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Remember back in 2008, OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education in DC) requested that McGraw Hill Testing Company conduct an erasure analysis due to abnormally high (statistically improbable) proficiency rates on standardized tests conducted in Washington, DC during April 2008? This computerized analysis revealed some disturbing results that occurred when103 public schools in the District of Columbia and some charter schools were flagged for having statistically high rates of wrong answers that were erased and replaced by correct answers on standardized tests during years 2008 to 2010. Deborah Gist, former DC State Superintendent of Education, recommended an investigation into why DC Public Schools (DCPS) erasure rates were so high but her recommendation to investigate met a roadblock by the Rhee/Henderson administration. USA Today's – through the use of Freedom Of Information Access (FOIA) requests uncovered a five month exchange of memos from DCPS officials questioning the rationale for a further investigation at the time. (click link to see memos, emails and tables).
Fast forward to year 2011, when USA TODAY'S newspaper and their cast of thirteen staff writers conducted their own investigative probe into the extraordinarily high erasures on standardized tests in the District of Columbia Public Schools. This piece found that DCPS likely cheated under the Rhee/Henderson administration. Even when these findings came to light and a recommendation was proffered by Gist to investigate further, Michelle Rhee along with Deputy Mayor of Education, Victor Reinoso and Kerri Briggs – successor to Deborah Gist in 2008 - refused to investigate and swept its dirty little secret under the rug.
Again in 2009, there was a second round of questionable proficiency rates on standardized tests in DC Public Schools. The USA TODAY investigation revealed that 46 DC public schools were flagged for having high erasure rates of wrong answers corrected to right ones. Caveon Consulting Services eventually conducted limited investigations in 2009 into the process and training of eight DC public schools at the request of DCPS. However, DCPS did not request that Caveon Consulting Services conduct a data analysis of the questionable testing data.
Given that three years have now passed since the questionable results were first released, one has to wonder why Mayor Gray and other government officials aren’t irate and calling for an intensive federal investigation to determine if fraud occurred like the federal probe conducted by the state of Georgia in 2010 by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. A USA TODAY article reported that “… only 4% of Georgia’s schools were considered of “severe concern” after their 2009 standardized tests,” according to Kathleen Mathers of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. In contrast, more than 15% of DC’s public schools had so many classrooms flagged in 2008 that they would have raised severe concern."
Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (whose term ended in January 2011) ordered law enforcement to take over the Georgia investigation because he said he was dissatisfied with the failure of the districts in Atlanta and elsewhere to explain the erasures. Here in DC, It is important to note that a referral was only recently made by the Henderson administration to the DC Inspector General to investigate after the USA TODAY's newspaper investigation featured a number of articles on DC Public Schools' questionable testing gains at schools like Noyes Elementary School (Former Principal Wayne Ryan during 2001-10- now Instructional Superintendent for DCPS) and others. Even though Kwame Brown, Chairman of the DC City Council, announced that he would hold public hearings on high erasures, these hearings have now been cancelled.
Do DC politicians really care? Why aren’t government officials more alarmed? What are they afraid they will learn? Why were the DC City Council hearings cancelled? This scandal is full of many examples where unethical actions have had negative effects on the entire city of Washington, DC, our public schools, parents, community, school personnel and especially our students. The principles of accountability were sacrificed by Rhee’s administration. Besides obviously being disingenuous and dishonest, Rhee’s administration acted unethically.

In addition to calling for a federal probe, I wholeheartedly concur with Conducting the Inner Light, DC teacher turned blogger's assessment of the DCPS cheating scandal below: Michelle Rhee’s reform has never been about the children. She used the district’s children to further her political ambitions. High test scores were necessary for her story and for advancing her agenda. If she didn’t collude in that cheating then she was certainly willfully negligent in her diligence to make sure those test scores were valid. If she were still the Chancellor of DCPS than it would be necessary for her to resign. As it is, Kaya Henderson and the rest of the Rhee team should resign or should be asked to resign by the mayor. Teachers had lost most of their trust in Rhee by the time she left. Most of us see Henderson as nothing more than Rhee’s factotum ...."
Isn't it time to clean house or will Mayor Gray allow Henderson to bring him down like Rhee did Fenty?

© Candi Peterson 2013


Anonymous said...

How do we get the ball rolling?

Anonymous said...

WHAT about all of the teachers fired due to low IVA scores on IMPACT due to the cheating schools "screwing" the student growth data?

What is the union doing about IMPACT, the problems are still there. Nate and you got elected acting ready for action but I have not seen much/enough from you at all. The body is with you!!! We are ready to strike/sick out or whatever it takes to get some action. NATE AND CANDI get on your JOB. I was riding hard with you two before the election now I feel a bit unsatified. Candi you dont even keep up the blog...many have stopped viewing it...So what if you have to stay up a little late dropping a line or two or reading comments, chalk it up to the times we are in. Many use your blog as a source of unyeilded truth about what is going on in dcps.I have lost many nights sleep about IMPACT and DCPS. Again get on your JOB.

The teachers at my school had a meeting with an assistant super., Zagami and this fool says to the staff that a janitor can be acting assistant principal of a school. The staff at my school had concerns that there are staff members at the school who are hired under one position and utilized in other more authoratative ways and are included in conversations about ET-15 that they should not be (ie. a person hired as the adminstrative aide is in charge of behaivor and the other deans and thinks he is 3rd in charge behind the p and vp and to top it off he is related to the principal of the education campus). Zagami sees no problems with this. THEY (DOWNTOWN/PRINCIPALS) ARE STICKING TOGETHER AT ALL COST WHEN ARE WE?

Anonymous said...

Candi, not all cheating can be captured using erasure rates. at my school, the principal encouraged teachers to clear our throats and point to test questions that children need to "revisit" as we walk around and monitor tduring etests

Classic said...

@anon 10:48 I understand your fustration and I am fustrated too that it seems that the DC Politicians, Kaya Henderson, and even the public still dont seem to care about what Michelle Rhee did to our kids. The fact that they still feel that Kaya is the right choice should tell you something. I know that it may seem nothing is moving but understand that this administration is fighing an uphill battle. Fighting the principals, Kaya, the media, the City Council, the Mayor. A Mayor that said he was with the teachers has now turned his back on us. We need to continue to support Nathan and Candi and be ready to move to action when they call on us. I feel that there are a lot of BIG things coming.

Anonymous said...

I guess peolpe don't realize that you work long hours on an average day or that you are in the office on many weekends. We all want to keep up with the blog but I think that President Saunders has been doing a great job sending out information and if you have been comeing to the WTU meetings he gave us a monthly presidents report. Change takes time and we are all ready to fght back but I feel like Nathan and Candi have been fighting since them came into office. I know that Candi came to my school and my principal wanted to know why the vice -president was in the building she was nervous. Instead of complaining why dont you ask Candi if you can asist her in keeping the blog moving. It is hard work and I am sure she would appreciate the help.

Anonymous said...

Candi, not all cheating can be captured using erasure rates. At my school, the principal encouraged teachers to clear our throats and point to test questions that children need to "revisit" as we walk around and monitor during tests.

BC said...

Loved it!

Lindsey said...

Great Article!

Keep up the good work!

Got the robo call about upcoming labor actions. Can't Wait to hear more. I'm sick and tired of these crazy people who don't know half of what they think they know.

And have you ever noticed that most of them start their responses to your questions with the word "So" ?

Put an erasure end on the Rhee's Broom said...

Gray lied to us and Brown is a coward. A greedy coward at that. Did you hear he knows a bad teacher? Who is he always referring to? Could it be his wife? Remember when he talked about not CARING about any mortgage a teacher has to pay. Then we found out it was him (Brown) having mortgage and all sorts of other financial problems. We are the good guys in this education agrument not the politicians. I am not surprised Brown does not desire to conduct council hearings on education related issues such as erasures. He and Gray are on the same page about this one not like the voucher issue. They want to sweep this under the rug but lets sweep them under as well. I am beginning to think Gray deserves Henderson and neither have a clue to deliver anything educationally.

Anonymous said...

Erasures are one kind of cheating. Making study booklets of the actual tests by changing a couple of details in the questions is also considered cheating. When two years ago several parents brought this to the attention of then Ross principal Amanda Alexander, she dismissed us. Other parents, who had been told by the school their children were extremely bright, thought that us parents were jealous of their children.

Unless you get rid of private schools and force the DC politicians to enroll their children in public schools, there will be no substantial change in DC schools, both public anc charter.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't there be a concern that if the detail were known, it would be found that teachers did a fair amount of the erasing?

And, we should hope that no one finds an excuse that makes this alright.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has cheating stories needs to report it and not just use this forum to report out what happened, if it was said in front of all teachers then there was plenty of witnesses so do the right thing and report what was said. You can't complain if you don't take the responsibility to do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

I think principals have more access to cheating on the DC-CAS than teachers especially since the testing booklets are left in the schools at night and over the weekend.

Anonymous said...

GRAY AND THE COUNCIL are a bunch of low living crooks.

Their blind support of Rhee/Henderson and DCPS speaks to their lack of concern for the residents of DC.

Also the national and local media for the most part continues to allow the ongoing cover up to take place. Where other than DCPS could a lying, cheating and corrupt principal be returned to a school and met with near silence and support from local officials.

This is the same group of corrupt folks who stood by and watched a successful principal be kicked around by a lying and corrupt Chancellor and her BFF side kick. Yes, I speak of Pope.

Shame on our so-called city leaders. Unfortunately, Gray and friends are too busy hiding from their own corrupt actions to give a DAMN ABOUT THE CHILDREN AND RESIDENTS OF DC.

Anonymous said...

TO ANON at 1:30 am

It is not a concern for honest and hardworking folks.

If a teacher cheated that person is just as bad as the person who encouraged the cheating. If the teacher acted alone than so be it.

No one is looking for excuses for this conduct and stop trying to push the DCPS talking point in a clever way -- like you give a s..t about the teachers well being.

Anonymous said...

Hi Candi, glad to see you up and blogging again. You don't know how much you have been missed. Just a few words about testing that started today. One word UNBELIEVEABLE. I can't even begin to describe some of the most ridiculous procedures which we have had to adhere to all in the name of test security. Unreal and unrealistic procedures. I would love to hear if others have had some unreal situations occuring in their buildings also.

Anonymous said...

what is the union doing about making sure the schools follow the wtu contract on next year's budgets?

there's all sorts of requirements of the principal, but what is the union doing to enforce them?

please don't wait for individual schools to file a grievance. principals disregard their staff at many schools and this needs to be addressed by the wtu and the central office.

please let us know. we are very discouraged at the school level. nothing has changed!!!!!

Anonymous said...


Maria said...

Right on Candi - put it out there - We know the real truth.

Candi Peterson said...

Reply to comments about WTU

The union is doing a lot of things that I have no problem discussing with you personally or at our upcoming WTU meetings. Please feel free to contact me personally through our help desk @ helpdesk@wtulocal6.net

Thanks for reading The Washington Teacher blog!

Anonymous said...

Was there discussion of Mr. Saunders' latest offer to give up our pay raises for next year at this meeting?

I ask because I know that Mr. Saunders was elected based on not giving back to DCPS, but 6 months in, it appears that he has decided to just give back the pay raise that was negotiated last year.

If this was discussed at the meeting, then ok, but from the reaction in my school, it seems pretty obvious that it was not.

I, for one, am NOT willing to meekly accept the lost pay on top of the furloughs (for which Mr. Saunders sent a mildly worded letter of complaint).

Even Parker wouldn't have rolled over like this.

DB said...

In response to the blog dated April 7, at 2:54 PM Look at the larger picture in regards to giving up the pay raise! To give back the payraise is in the best interest of all individuals so they may remain employed. Would you rather receive the reduction in your salary or have a loss of job entirely? I implore you to STOP thinking of yourself only and START thinking about your neighbor as well! Many individuals, myself included would gladly take the reduction knowing that we have helped to save someone's job, maybe even our own! Kudos to you Mr. Saunders for thinking about a method to save as many jobs as you possibly can! We are behind you!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon @12:55

None of the teachers in my building knew of WTU speaking on our behalf in forfeiting our raises and all, except those who are not receiving a step increase next year, were upset. Many, including myself were wondering when will the people who are effected by these choices the most (the teachers) be apart of these decisions. Was this communicated in any other way besides a robo-call or email?

I don't believe it is selfish to be upset about being caught off guard about someone else deciding that we will give up our raises.

Many of us all had the same question: if we give up our raises next year, how do we know any of that money will go towards keeping any of the excessed positions at our school? To many schools in my ward get the short end of the stick and at my school we are losing so many positions. Can Saunders tell me he is 100% certain that every single school in DCPS receive additional funds to save jobs?

If wanting to be certain me giving up my raise next year will help my school is wrong than so be it. If it makes me selfish then so be it. But don't tell me you have decided you will forfeit my raise for me, yet my school will not see any benefit from me being forced to do so.

Classic- it is becoming difficult to support WTU leadership when they make decisions like this and let everyone know after the fact. I could be wrong and maybe they did hold a meeting to discuss this in detail, but I think I would have remembered something like this.

Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous @ 6:20

The WTU leadership HAS NOT made a decision to give up teachers raises. We have made a PROPOSAL to give up the 5% raise in order to save teacher and school personnel jobs. The final decision will be made by the WTU membership. A letter was sent to the Mayor outlining this PROPOSAL in order to begin the needed discussion on how many jobs could possibly be saved. We know that there will be budget cuts and jobs will be lost in the teaching work force.

We brought this PROPOSAL to the WTU Representative Assembly, WTU membership meeting and WTU Executive board. The importance of teachers having their Building Reps or alternate attend the Representative Assembly meetings is so that they can bring back information to members. Of course the membership meeting was open to all
WTU members. The WTU Representative Assembly which represents all schools in the city was overwhelmingly for this idea. We had more than the required quorum at that meeting. The WTU Executive Board was for this idea as were those in attendance at our WTU membership meeting.

Before you go jumping to conclusions- I strongly encourage you to get the facts from the WTU first. Our administration planned to be proactive instead of reactive and give our membership options. Our union is a democracy and you will have a choice just like teachers/school personnel did in approving the last contract. Check with your WTU Building Rep. to make sure you have been supplied all of the information.

Anonymous said...

To all George Parker fans and supporters -- STOP THE MADNESS.

George was the KING OF SUCK UP AND BETRAYAL. The raises we received were great but we have paid a very heavy cost.

Stop promoting your bull. The WTU membership has grown lazy. More info is coming out in the past six months than the entire Parker reign of terror.

Did you complain. I doubt it.

RPR said...


Anonymous said...

What is frustrating me most with the people that are complaining, how many of you have been coming out to the meeting. As for the problems that are at the local level what is the SCAC doing ? What about the building rep. Have you CALLED your field rep for assistance with the budget. I know at my school out concerns were ignored but we called I field rep and he is assisting us with making sure that the process is being followed. You need to get with SCAC, LSAT and your building rep. Then call the Union if it can be resolved.

Classic said...

The pay raise option is just a proposal. I think that Mr. Saunders is trying to be creative with how to save jobs. The reality is that DCPS is cuting budgets which tranlates to people losing jobs. He is trying to find a way to save jobs. You have a choice lose 5% now or lose your job in June. The same people that were so money hungry that they voted for this bull contract that made this necessary are the ones complaining now. In the old contract if you were excessed from your job you were guaranteed a job that is not the case now so he is just trying to work within the new contract that he told everyone NOT to vote for and save teachers jobs. He is looking out for all WTU members not just the few. Look at the big picture. Remember this is just a proposal if you don't like it than don't vote for it!!!

Anonymous said...

As long as the membership is allowed to vote on it, that's fine. I don't think anyone could have a problem with that. However, the letter Nathan sent a couple of days ago made it sound like a done deal.

However, what do we get in return for giving up our raises? I can get on board, or at least think that a reasonable argument can be made for giving up the raises to protect jobs.

However, one does not negotiate by giving something up first. If you proposed giving up the raises in exchange for, for example, reducing the number of days teachers can be forced to be in meaningless meetings with their administrators in the morning, then fine.

However, getting a letter, out of the cold, saying that "we" would be giving up our raises in exchange for nothing is not exactly good negotiating or good communication with your membership.

We have already had 4 days worth of pay being taken away, and now we are expected to give up another 5%? What is the point of having a contract if we just give up anything in it when DCPS cries poverty?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 9:04
Since we are on the topic of giving up or better yet placing blame, let’s look back in the recent past and really place fault where it belongs. You seem to be upset about the 5% raise the Union may ask us to give back, well get just as upset at the current contract the teachers and the last president put into action at the expense and detriment of us all. It looks like Mr. Saunders is trying to find ways to save as many jobs as he possibly can. I am sure he realizes that by us giving back the 5% will not save us all, but he seems to be truly working on our behalf! The Union does listen to our voices!

Anonymous said...

We hear nothing from our building rep. this is too important, please send it/email to all.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, what about Ms. Henderson giving up some of her salary this is not a ridiculous suggestion. This needs to be proposed, let's all share in this together.

Anonymous said...

Candi-thank you for your response and clarifying my misunderstandings. My building rep has made it clear she does not support the new WTU leadership and now longer informs us of anything the way she used to do when George was in office so it is hard to get information.

I apologize for jumping to conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I would be willing to vote to give back the raise, IF their was a guarantee that giving up the raise would save jobs.

I also might add, I voted against this contract, for this very scenario. I knew that voting for this contract would come back to haunt us.

lodesterre said...


Could you put your information about the proposal on a post? Right now there is a lot of information flying out there and not all of it correct.

Anonymous said...

Candi-thank you for your response and clarifying my misunderstandings. My building rep has made it clear she does not support the new WTU leadership and now no longer informs us of anything the way she used to do when George was in office so it is hard to get information. I apologize for jumping to conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Candi, I don't understand why would WTU send such a letter to Mayor proposing we give up our 5% raise, when I know for a fact that DCPS is planning to hire more than 500 new teachers or close to it.

They are spending enormous dollars to recruit these teachers over the next 3-4months. Of coure the teaching fellows are automaticaly a done deal...no interview required...HIRED! The interview process has already started for non-fellows.

So who are we saving...seems like to process in already in motion to let teachers go! I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

With IMPACT, it does not matter what raise we give up...it is not gonna matter. It will not save one teacher. Have you guys forgotton about IMPACT? The good and the bad will all go.

I am very disallusioned by the Mayor. Unfortunately not very much has changed...same old same. Not sure who is Mayor Gray or Fenty.

Sheila H. Gill said...

DC Voters need to demand a Federal Investigation on DCPS Administration.

DCPS Politicians need to be held accountable for the wrongdoings of the Rhee and Kaya Administration.

* Principals were forced to increase students' test scores or were fired. Rheeform top (Administrators) to the bottom (Educators) policy.
* Individuals received bonuses and their local school were flagged with numerous erasures on the DC CAS Test SY 08-10. Rheeform erasing to the top.
* Principals tampering with high school transcripts by adding courses and grades that students didn't earned any credits. Rheeform increasing DCPS graduation rates.
*Principals cheating and mishandling of school budget. Rheeform lying about additional
school funds, more new hires in Central Administration earning over $100,000.00 annual salaries.
*Rhee and Kaya Administraiton attempting to sweep 2 investigations under the rug. One DCPS investigator was fired to cover up the MTHS scandal.

No Justice, No Peace!!
DCPS former or current employees need to be subpoena!
Enough is Enough!
This is a disgrace!!!

DCNeverSleeps said...

I am a current teacher at Ross. I would love to know more about what these parents know. Could you write more?

Five To Go said...

Mayor Gray is getting everything he deserves, with Kaya Rhee Henderson. The DC city council is the biggest bunch of thieves the world has ever seen. Council member, David Catania is trying his best to change the retirement pay for teachers, police, firefighters, but not judges. The chairman of the DC council, Kwamee-Fully Loaded- Brown can not budget his own money. Kaya Henderson whom we all know is unqualified for her fake job title, is as clueless and rotten as her still-boss, Michelle-I-Can't-stay-out-of-DCPS-issues-Rhee. The contract that some teachers signed was a sham, and the reults of this sham is bitting all of us in the rear. Greed-Corruption-Cheating-and Lying is the norm for our school system, and the children are indeed watching all of us. The children just don't understand yet, that this system has labled them, stupid,dumb, cheaters, and unqulified to work in any job in the near future. Shame on all of us!

Anonymous said...

someone should investigate the fact that erin mcgoldrick, the chief of data and accountability, has been working from san diego an drawing a check. she is leaving june, and is bilking taxpayers out of their money. she is at the heart of the cheating scandal.

Anonymous said...

Candi, what should happen to the teachers - your constituents - who cheated on these tests???

Rhee didn't erase wrong answers. Your members did. Unless you think school principals changed thousands of test answers by themselves.

chemtchr said...

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Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous @ 8:02

I hear your argument, but what I don't understand is why some people can't see that Rhee had an obligation to have an investigation given the Erasure Study results. She failed to do due diligence and looked the other way which is just as bad as if cheated herself. I have called for a federal investigation just like the Georgia authorities ordered. I can't say who cheated but what I know is that administrators had more opportunity. That's not to say teachers couldn't have cheated also. In Montgomery County when this happened, both administrators and teachers were fired after they conducted an investigation and determined who was at fault.

There could be criminal consequences no matter who the cheaters are. We all should want to get to the bottom of this by investigating and stop ducking our heads in the sand. We owe it to our students.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed, Candi, that you will let the chips fall where they may--your call to have investigators confirm that some teachers may be the cheaters. You appear OK with the idea that anyone caught cheating should be fired.
This is what might be called a very strong defense of the educators' profession.

Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous @ 9:48
I think as leaders we have to stand up and demand accountability. It is the right thing to do. This Erasure Study reveals some disturbing results. I like many want a real investigation by the Feds. I don't think we can duck our heads in on the sand on this one.