Joining Gov. Kasich at the Athletic Club of Columbus tonight for a showing of the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman will be Michelle Rhee, who resigned last fall as the chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools and was featured just this week in USA Today as an executive who glossed over the apparent wide-spread cheating scandal her policies brought about.
From USA Today:
In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its "shining stars."
Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes' students scored "proficient" or "advanced" in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading [...]
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 [...]
In 2007-08, six classrooms out of the eight taking tests at Noyes were flagged by McGraw-Hill because of high wrong-to-right erasure rates. The pattern was repeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, when 80% of Noyes classrooms were flagged by McGraw-Hill.
On the 2009 reading test, for example, seventh-graders in one Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on answer sheets; the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than 1. The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians consulted by USA TODAY.
Rhee hid from the investigation, even while Chancellor of the schools (Rhee was told of this in 2008, according to USAT, refused to look into the problem, then authorized a pro forma investigation by an outside consulting company which cleared every school). When it finally came out, she merely insulted longtime enemies rather than address the concerns:
"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."
USA TODAY's investigation into test scores "is an insult to the dedicated teachers and schoolchildren who worked hard to improve their academic achievement levels," Rhee said.
Rhee, who said Monday night that the investigation "absolutely lacked credibility," had declined to speak with USA TODAY despite numerous attempts before an article ran online and in Monday's newspaper. Her comments were made during the taping of PBS' Tavis Smiley show to air on Tuesday night.