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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Michelle Rhee's early test scores challenged

By Jay Mathews

(Updated with a response from Michelle Rhee's group, StudentsFirst, at 6 p.m. Wednesday.)

G.F. Brandenburg, a retired D.C. math teacher with an irresistible blog, has done it again. If he had chosen a career in journalism instead of teaching, no U.S. president would have finished out his first term. He has found the missing test score data from former D.C. schools chancellor's early years as a classroom teacher, something I did not think was possible.

He has proved that Rhee's results weren't nearly as good as she said they were. (To see Rhee's response, which calls Brandenburg's criticism "unfounded," click here.)

You can find Brandenburg's revelations in this Jan. 31 post, "The Rhee Miracle Examined Again--By Cohort." Then go back further for other recent pieces he has done, with many charts, to make his findings clear. You may also be enlightened by his most recent Feb. 8 item, "The Cluelessness of Rhee, Kopp and Mathews," which finds fault with my Feb. 3 column on Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp's new book. It is an honor, of a sort, to be mentioned by Brandenburg in the same headline as Rhee, who has been his prime target for years.

My only complaint about Brandenburg's scoop is his persistent misuse of the word "lie." He says Rhee "has lied repeatedly" about her students' test score gains at Harlem Park Elementary School, then gives no evidence of that.

As I used to try to explain to my children when they got in a lather about what somebody told them, there is a big difference between telling a lie and saying something wrong. If you say words that you think are right, but are not, that is not a lie. Lying means knowingly embracing a falsehood.

Rhee told me that her information about huge gains in her students' scores came from her principal at the time. She had no data to back it up, but went with the best information she had, her memory, when asked how her students did. Until Brandenburg dug deep, nobody had the real data.

He unearthed a report on the work of the private company contracted by Baltimore to run Rhee's school when she was there in the early to mid 1990s [I messed this up in the original version, which said 1900s.]. His data come from an academic paper, The UMBC Evaluation of the Tesseract Program in Baltimore City, written by Lois C. Williams and Lawrence E. Leak.

I checked Richard Whitmire's new biography of Rhee, "The Bee Eater," to see if he has more on her Baltimore teaching years. He does not mention Brandenburg's research, and appears somewhat neutral on the argument over this issue. He quotes Rhee as saying on her resume that after two years 90 percent of her students had reached the 90th percentile in reading and math, but he also quotes other officials casting doubt on that statement. Rhee's principal, according to Whitmire, backed up Rhee. She said the students' achievement level climbed impressively. But she did not have the results to confirm that. These were not official state tests that would have been preserved and made public, but private company records.

Now we know how Rhee's kids did. Their scores went up, it appears, but not that much.

I don't think Rhee's successor, Kaya Henderson, has made any claims about how her middle school Spanish language students did in the South Bronx when she was a Teacher For America teacher. But if she does, stand back. I am beginning to think there is no document Brandenburg can't find, if you give him enough time and motivation.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education Web page.


By Jay Mathews  | February 8, 2011; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Baltimore, G.F. Brandenburg, Harlem Park Elementary School, Michelle Rhee, blogger unearth data showing her students did not do as well as she said they did, was Rhee successful as a teacher  
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Comments

Actually Jay, I found the report and sent it onto to Guy, a few others, and Bill Turque.
I knew Guy was much, much better at performing analysis than me.

Posted by: edlharris | February 8, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Jay, as for the veracity of Michelle Rhee and what to call her when she says something that isn't true (Remember Shaw Middle School scores?),
don't forget that her resume that has those fantastic claims that her "success in theclassroom" led to acclaim from the Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal and her practices being featured on the Home Show and Good Morning America.
Guy reprinted the Hartford Courant articles here:
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/the-sum-total-of-michelle-rhees-educational-accomplishments/


and Bob Somersby at the Dailyhowler took care of the Wall Street Journal and Good Morning America claims here:
http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh071107.shtml


What will it take, Jay?

A public confession?

"Yes, I lied about my teaching at Harlem Park. But I did it for the kids."

Posted by: edlharris | February 8, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Jay,
I enjoy your columns, however I am puzzled.

Michelle Rhee is known for suggesting that if teachers work hard enough, every student would score much higher. The implication was that she did it, and others could too, if they would only work hard enough.

Your column implies that the data doesn't matter in this case.

I think that would be fair if teachers were all judged that way, but they are not. In fact, in value added evaluations, teachers are being judged on exact numbers.

There is a story to be told if a supervisor of a school district who holds everyone to very high expectations lied or not on her resume.

I haven't read the blog you mentioned and can understand your not wanting to be mentioned along with this, however, I don't think that it is right to act as if this doesn't matter.

Wasn't she hired on the basis of those scores or do I have that wrong?

Honesty is honesty. It is unethical and extremely unfair to students to have people in power conveniently forgetting things that they have claimed true in order to be hired.


Posted by: ubblybubbly | February 8, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

The funny thing is that most teachers, when presented with Rhee's lies about her raising of test scores so dramatically, knew they were lies, questioned the lies, and were ignored. Now Rhee is a player, thanks to guys like Matthews.

Rhee lied by virtue of the fact that she knowingly told untruths. Why Mathews doesn't like the word is curious.

And, she taped kids mouths shut and made them bleed. And, she took kids on an unsanctioned filed trip--without bringing emergency cards, and nearly had to adopt a kid for the night because she didn't know where he lived.

She is a lightweight, and shouldn't be listened to.

Posted by: tfteacher | February 8, 2011 7:04 PM | Report abuse

This just bothers me. She was quoted as saying that 90% of her students scored in the 90th percentile and they didn't/weren't?

Why then even base student achievement on standardized scores if the scores are being manipulated in this fashion?

Did those kids learn anything? Does anyone care about them? Are they just a number?

What does this imply for the current reform movement? That test scores should be manipulated? For what? What are we teaching...dishonesty??

Posted by: ubblybubbly | February 8, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Everyone on the blog should congratulate edlharris for this reporting coup, as he reveals above. He is one of many here who have shown their reporting skills, but this is a particularly impressive feat. He makes those of us who get paid for this look sick.

for tfteacher---You are of course entitled to your opinion, but I am curious what evidence you have that Rhee knew the figures she was citing were wrong.

for ubblybubbly---I am not saying the data don't matter. They do. That is why I wrote and posted this blog item. If they didn't matter I would not have bothered.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 8, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

It did occur to me that it was honest of YOU to post the information and the link to it, Jay.

I am still a bit dismayed at the perception of a miracle, when what we had is at best a memory lapse and at worst a lie.

I wouldn't think this was so bad, but she had the support of the President of the U.S.A! What about all the hard working teachers who don't "forget" their scores?
What about her firing solves everything mantra?

I am still wondering about two things.

1. What is the difference between the significant increases and the number 90 that was given?

2. Was she hired based on these numbers or was that "Baltimore Miracle" idea just a story written after she was hired?

Posted by: ubblybubbly | February 8, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Jay, she must have known. She made the claim. If your excuse for her is that she didn't know where her students were academically, so it wasn't a lie, but simply a mistake, then hiring or trusting her is even more shameful with that knowledge. Either she is brilliant (or at least as smart and able as thousands of teachers) and could never make such a huge mistake, or she lied.

And, the numbers didn't pass the smell test.

If she didn't lie, what does that say about her ability to reflect and change?

You blew it. Your entire industry blew it, and now you rely on bloggers.

Retire or get to work.

Posted by: tfteacher | February 8, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I met you in Washington State back in the days of your Jaimie Escalante book and was impressed with your willingness to dig deeper than the average journalist. Over the years you gave the late Jerry Bracey an ear and occasional space in your column. Since Jerry's passing I have seen a steep decline in your crap detection abilities. Publishing a link to Guy's work is a step in the right direction. You are at your best when you dig deep. Keep digging. The current education policy direction has a lot of crap for you to detect.

Posted by: rvaliant | February 8, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Jay,how could Rhee not have known the figures? If she didn't know what they were, why would she say anything about them?
It seems from the blog that her students went up to about the 50% level, far from 90. She wouldn't, as Guy stated in his blog, have been successful if she were evaluated using her IMPACT system.
If reformers and reporters tout data, and tout Rhee's brief past as a teacher, then that data needs to be valid. Why did it take a blogger to find and report what the truth was? Why was she touted,nationally in all sorts of media, when no one verified the data/scores?
Do you trust "data" now Jay? Are you going to question scores that are touted? Are you going to trust school officials when they say data proves a teacher should be fired (oh, yeah..did you read that teachers fired by Rhee will now be hired back with back pay?)
You have complimented edharris and Guy, but you have yet to say that education reporters, the media, the nation have all been hoodwinked.
Teachers knew it was false data, knew that Rhee had too little experience teaching (knew that she flew out of the classroom in other words)and knew that her view of what makes a good teacher was flawed. We knew all of this about her without the aide of standardized tests; just like good teachers know which students don't "get it" or need help without relying on their test scores.

Posted by: researcher2 | February 8, 2011 8:27 PM | Report abuse

"He unearthed a report on the work of the private company contracted by Baltimore to run Rhee's school when she was there in the early to mid 1900s"

(I think you mean 1990s...)

Posted by: hippiehigh | February 8, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Jay, you might regain a little respect among readers of WaPo if you would just admit that you, like many others, were snowed by Rhee and her PR machine.

Just remember, it's the "stupid and incompetent" (which is how we were made to feel by Rhee) teachers in DCPS that she was never able to fool. We saw through her smoke and mirrors right from the start. We're not looking so stupid and incompetent now, are we?

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 8, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Very irresponsible to go around making claims you can't back up - either way you slice it, deliberate or careless. And TFT nailed it - the media wanted to believe in Rhee, while skeptics with classroom expertise smelled something funny and were ignored. Where's her credibility on teaching and learning at this point? Oh well, she's not really into teaching and learning anymore anyway. On to politics, and we know she's good at taking advantage of political patronage and seizing the opportunity to sell the ed-deform story. Hopefully education reporters will dig a bit deeper into what she and her benefactors are really all about.

Posted by: DavidBCohen | February 8, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Part 1

I truly think that most decent people, once they learn that they have a claim on their resume that can't be supported with evidence, will quietly drop it from their resume and never speak of it again.

Instead, Michelle Rhee continued to proclaim it widely to the media, years later, with the most recent mention, that I know of, just two months ago in the December 2010 Washingtonian Magazine.

Here’s a chronological sampling of Rhee's claim of the Baltimore Miracle in her own words:

Washington Post, 29 June 2007
From Rhee's résumé: "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/29/AR2007062902190.html?nav=emailpage
See full resume at: http://www.dcpswatch.com/mayor/070312b.htm


Atlantic, October 2008
“Everyone sort of spews the rhetoric about “all kids can learn” and that sort of thing, but I actually experienced that. I saw these kids in my classroom who were at the absolute rock bottom in terms of achievement. And people said, “You can’t do this—their home lives are too bad.” This and that. They had all sorts of excuses for the kids. And over a two year period, I saw them grow exponentially. So for me, it’s not just this nice idea that kids can learn, it was my actually experiencing it and seeing it first-hand. That’s what drives my work every single day.

And over a two year period, I saw them grow exponentially. So for me, it’s not just this nice idea that kids can learn, it was my actually experiencing it and seeing it first-hand. That’s what drives my work every single day.”
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/10/crusader-of-the-classrooms/7080/

Harvard Kennedy School, 8 January 2009
“…the defining experience of my life.” …“People told me I couldn’t do it because the kids came from poor homes, they didn’t get breakfast, and no one was helping them out,” she recalls. “The reality was that they went from the bottom to the top, and their home environment didn’t change. What changed were the adults in front of them who were teaching. That gave me the conviction that academic outcomes are dependent upon what the adults are doing.”
http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/alumni/michelle-rhee

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Part 2 - Rhee's Ongoing Claims

Politics Daily, May 7th 2009
“In my second and third years of Teach for America-I taught a group of 70 kids there with another teacher-we took a group of kids who were performing at the bottom and took them to the top. What it showed me very clearly is that everything people were attributing to their low achievement levels-poverty, the lack of two-parent households, those sorts of things-were not the determinants of these kids' success. (Their success) could be impacted dramatically by the teachers in the classroom. If I worked my tail off for three years and despite everything I tried, the achievement level of those kids didn't move, I would have left thinking, 'You have to solve these social ills.' But the experience I had was exactly the opposite. That informs and drives everything that I do.” http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/05/07/reforming-d-c-schools-changes-challenges-complaints/

Washingtonian Magazine, December 2010
In my second year of teaching, we took them from the bottom to the top on academics, and what I learned from that experience was these kids were getting screwed because people wanted to blame their low achievement levels on the single-parent households and on the poverty in the community. In that two-year period, none of those things changed. Their parents didn’t change.
http://www.washingtonian.com/print/articles/6/174/17501.html 12/10


Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Nice work edlharris!

Jay, she lied. If under oath, could she have sworn that the stats she was touting were, without doubt, true? No. Did she perpetuate the myth in effort to secure employment? Yes. Has she further perpetuated the myth in effort to gain prestige and position and establish education policy using taxper funds? Yes. Has she a conscience?

Posted by: shadwell1 | February 8, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse

He has proved that Rhee's results weren't nearly as good as she said they were.
.................
The usual non reporting of Jay Mathews.

What were the real scores?

How different were these scores from the 90 percentile she claimed?

What did Ms. Rhee put on her resume for the position or her resume posted on the D.C. web site when she ran the school system?

The readers if presented with this information could make their own determinations about Ms. Rhee.

Mr. Mathews now makes the claim:
"Rhee told me that her information about huge gains in her students' scores came from her principal at the time."

Any reasonable reporter if told this would have asked Ms. Rhee what actually was told to Ms. Rhee at the time by her principal since there was a claim of scores in the 90 percentile.

Also it seems during the questions of the claim of high scores Mr. Mathews never reported that he was told that the claims were not based on seeing the scores but of being told of them in a converstion.

Mr. Mathews does not write articles to inform but to suit his own purposes. Mr. Mathews and the Washington Post were full supporters of Ms. Rhee and are now protecting themselves.

It is obvious that Ms. Rhee totally misrepresented herself and her qualification.

Ms. Rhee never publicly stated or wrote that her principal told her that her students scored on at the 90 percentile and that she had never seen the scores. She instead told everyone that her students scored at the 90 percentile giving the clear impression that she was fully aware of the test scores.

Now that the real scores are available it is obvious that Ms. Rhee misrepresented herself.
.........................
"Now we know how Rhee's kids did. Their scores went up, it appears, but not that much."

We know nothing of the kind since you have not provided any of the real scores.

Perhaps a real reporter that is not trying to cover himself will be assigned to this story.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 8, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Another thing -- wouldn't a teacher, who had the same kids for two years, have a pretty good sense of how much they had progressed?

Wouldn't any decent teacher know the difference between kids reading at a 50% level and a 90% level?

Really - Were these kids just test scores to her, so that when (if) her principal said "Oh - 90% are at the 90th percentile!" Rhee just rushed to put it on her resume?

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 9:38 PM | Report abuse

there is a big difference between telling a lie and saying something wrong.

So what exactly is the meaning of is?

Posted by: mamoore1 | February 8, 2011 9:41 PM | Report abuse

at least give folks the direct link, jay

http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/the-rhee-miracle-examined-again-by-cohort/

looks bad when you just wave in GFB's direction and tell folks to find it on their own.

we know you claim to be techno-befuddled but sometimes that stretches our belief in you

Posted by: alexanderrusso | February 8, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

What Jay Mathews left off regarding the scores.
..................................
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/

I highlighted the classes where Michelle Rhee was teaching. In her last year, the scores did rise some, but nowhere near what she claimed. In her first year, they dropped almost as low as they can go. If Tesseract/Edison had been using the IMPACT evaluation system she foisted on DCPS teachers, she would have probably been fired after the first year!

Why does this matter?

Simply because I think it’s important for the public to know that the main spokesperson for the movement for additional dumb standardized testing, for teaching to the test, and for firing teachers based on those dumb tests, would herself have been fired under those criteria.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 8, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Here's the boilerplate that groups use when having Miss Rhee speak:

Michelle Rhee is a bold education reformer who combines tough-love and high expectations with first-hand experience as a teacher with Teach For America to improve the teaching profession and student achievement. Rhee has been working to bring quality teachers to classrooms since 1997, when she founded The New Teacher Project, which implemented widespread reform in teacher hiring practices. Under her leadership as Chancellor of D.C. public schools, student performance in one of the nation’s lowest performing school districts dramatically improved.

This is from her visit today in Florida.

Posted by: edlharris | February 8, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Jay, but there is a certain amount of due diligence expected of people when presenting information about themselves on a resume. She should know what she is saying about her own performance is true. If she doesn't know it's true, and presents it in a resume as something she knows to be true, then she's a liar. There's a good chance that if were caught telling such an egregious lie on my resume, I'd be fired by the people I lied to.

Posted by: morwells | February 8, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Possibly the worse thing about Rhee’s Bogus Baltimore Miracle is that it inspired the bolt from the blue on which she based her whole reform movement. There’s nothing academic about it. It’s pure cult. Listen to the language: “life-altering,” “Obsessed.”

“Seeing the growth of my students showed me that the academic outcomes of our students had nothing to do with their ability and potential (which was endless) and everything to do with the education they were receiving in the schools.” 7/2/07 city council testimony
http://www.k12.dc.us/chancellor/testimony/Rhee-confirm-hear-testimony_20070702.pdf

11/13/08 Aspen Institute
“I had a life-altering experience through that experience, I came to realize this is all about the teachers, because for those 70 kids nothing changed….”

“And so I became obsessed with this idea that if we were really going to change the quality of urban education in this county, it’s going to be about high quality teachers.”
http://mefeedia.com/entry/dc-schools-chancellor-michelle-rhee/15966031

12/22/07 WSJ
"It was a life altering experience for me and the reason I'm here today."
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110011029

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I think the exposed facts of the lies upon which Rhee's reputation was built requires reconciliation. She needs to talk about it. Or governors need to fire her. Or both.

Posted by: tfteacher | February 8, 2011 10:22 PM | Report abuse

morwells says, "There's a good chance that if were caught telling such an egregious lie on my resume, I'd be fired by the people I lied to."

In fact, that's exactly what happened to a highly respected Dean at MIT when it was found that she lied on her resume 28 years before.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/27/us/27mit.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Organizations/R/Rensselaer%20Polytechnic%20Institute

According to the NYT account, “she admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T. Officials of the institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree.”
“‘I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to M.I.T. 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my résumé when I applied for my current job or at any time since,’ Ms. Jones said in a statement posted on the institute’s Web site. ‘I am deeply sorry for this and for disappointing so many in the M.I.T. community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities.’”

I wonder when Rhee’s apology is coming?

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Wake up, Jay. Every teacher knows that students don't go from the thirteenth to the ninetieth percentiles on standardized tests. Rhee lied.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 8, 2011 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Brandenburg was one of the WORST teachers that I ever had for math [and going to DC Public Schools, you know I had some bad ones].

It would be equally as interesting to pull his record as a teacher by cohort [and race].

Posted by: alwayswonderswhy | February 8, 2011 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes. One of the "stars" of Waiting for Superman. How very fitting.

The one Jonathan Alter called "brilliant".

The heroine on the cover of Time magazine, sweeping the nation of all those lousy teachers.

All the celebrity hype and TV appearances.

Several media and celebrity somebodies should be awfully embarrassed.

Bravo to edharris and Guy.

Posted by: taunar | February 8, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Jay, Brandenburg's data is not connected directly to Michelle Rhee. He has faked the graphs and lied in his post where he claims that those are her results. He is showing the results from the entire grade, not her classes. He is also creating the false appearance of value added data, when there is no connection between the cohorts.

It's neither proves nor disproves the case.

Posted by: staticvars | February 8, 2011 11:23 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous. Jay, you do such fabulous work – how can you stoop so low as to parrot this tripe.

I understand the seduction of this fellow’s blog post and the thrill of a take-down: Michelle Rhee is the most outspoken advocate for children of our generation.

Vis a vis this Brandenberg piece, there are a few key facts that you’re missing here:

1) The data here is at the school level not the classroom-level. It says nothing about Michelle’s effectiveness in the classroom.

2) EAI didn’t hire teachers in Baltimore during the 1991-1994 “experiment.” Nor, to my knowledge, did they hire any teachers in Miami Dade or Hartford. All things being equal, the same staff were teaching in EAI schools as in Baltimore City Schools. Why wouldn’t performance be similar?

3) What made EAI different was its use of technology in the classroom and progressive learning approach. If you read around Brandenburg’s research, you will see that Michelle was a team-player; she tried to make the system work in her classroom and from what I hear, she did.

4) But it seems clear from her tone that not everyone did and in fact, the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) boycotted EAI’s teacher-training sessions. They also marched in protest and rallied all of Baltimore it seems, to kick out EAI. How can you implement a new curriculum successfully without staff support?

5) EAI was a privatization charade, a party-trick. EAI set the curriculum and had its partners (CCC, Johnson Controls, KPMG) put in cool equipment and data systems, but net-net, EAI did not control what mattered most in those buildings: teachers. Worse, it was at their mercy and very much vulnerable to sabotage. It’s hard to learn much about “privatization” looking at test scores from EAI “managed” schools.

6) Let’s assume that the question of Michelle Rhee being a good teacher is relevant today. First, should the classroom-level data from her years of teaching still exist, it will show that her students performed remarkably. Second, I’ve seen Michelle Rhee speak and can assure you that were she put in a classroom today, she would be among the top 5% of all teachers in America.

What the performance evaluation shows is that the same staff, with different curricula and outsourced paraprofessionals and cleaning services, under the anvil of teacher union opposition, isn’t enough to turn around schools. It says as much about the individual contribution of staff as the Los Angeles Times analysis of value-added scores says about the overall health of LAUSD. There are scores of great teachers in LAUSD -- and we can finally identify the elementary school ones by name -- yet only 50% of the kids graduate from high school and fewer than 5% graduate college.

What I’m seeing here is unfortunate and shoddy reporting. I expect so much from Valerie Strauss but not from you, Jay.

Just think this over. You’re going to be apologizing for and rescinding this hatchet piece soon.

Posted by: anthonykrinsky | February 8, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

anthonykrinsky -- you're pretty threatened by this aren't you? I hope Jay and other reporters do the deep investigation you demand. Even you must have noticed that there is no data from Harlem Park in any class that shows anywhere near a 13-90% increase. That in itself makes Rhee's claim bogus.

And I'd like to see you make good on this claim: " Second, I’ve seen Michelle Rhee speak and can assure you that were she put in a classroom today, she would be among the top 5% of all teachers in America."

In the tank for Rhee, much? You can tell by hearing her speak how she can teach?

Incredible.

Maybe we should put you in charge of teacher evaluation and forget all those detailed rubrics.

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Well Mr. Mathews, your death bed confession is on the record. But you must count heavily on the most merciful of gods. For the monster you helped to create still roams the land. One day standing beside the teacher-hating Governor Christie in New Jersey, the next day visiting an Opa-Locka charter school with voucher loving Governor Scott in Florida. One day sitting before Oprah Winfrey's national TV audience and being lauded as a "warrior woman", the next collecting the checks of the oligarchs and the Wall Street bankers for her teacher's union busting cult.

I'm at a loss to understand the distinction you make between lying and memory lapse. I got the distinct impression you were a proponent of "data driven" education. Data is precise. Test scores are there or they are not. But I'm going to give your new take on this a try. When they come to rate me as a teacher on a value added basis, no matter the scores, I'll tell them that I clearly remember teaching my students those test taking skills.

Wish me luck and may God have mercy on your journalistic soul.

And just for old time sake, one more time, "The Fable of Michelle Rhee" by Jay Mathews.

Once upon a time, there was a young Ivy League missionary with a couple years to kill before getting on with her life's work. Rather than backpacking through Europe or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro after a safari in Africa, our intrepid heroine plunged into the mean streets of Baltimore where children who live in poverty test poorly.

One day the Ivy League princess was struck down like St. Paul on the way to Damascus. Sit the poor children in a circle, the voice told her. And sit them in a circle she did.

They forevermore scored like rich children on tests. Just take my word on that. I swear its true. And they all lived happily ever after. No, no really, stop laughing. How rude. Ok, that's enough, get up off the floor. Geez, its a fairy tale. You know like Pinocchio?

Posted by: natturner | February 8, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

anthonykrinsky says: I’ve seen Michelle Rhee speak and can assure you that were she put in a classroom today, she would be among the top 5% of all teachers in America."

Wow... from today all school districts should stop evaluating teachers by how teach teach and how they do their job. All they need to do is make every teacher give a speech on how much they love children.

This is just too funny... are you drunk or on something??

Posted by: washingtonian2011 | February 8, 2011 11:54 PM | Report abuse

The significance from the discovery that Ms. Rhee did not achieve significant results as a teacher but only mediocre results is the recognition that an entire movement in public education has been built on a falsehood.

This movement in public education is still in place expecting that supposedly a mythical effective teacher will work miracles and be able to show significant results with children that have difficulties in learning.

Would anyone have bought into this movement in public education that derives from Ms. Rhee if Ms. Rhee had admitted that as a teacher with her ideas regarding education she had only been able to produce mediocre results and not miracles?

Would anyone have bought into the removal of tenure and the mass firing of teachers if the result of this was to hire a teacher such as Ms. Rhee who during her first year of teaching under performed the average teacher?

Ms. Rhee as a teacher from Teach For America in three years performed no better than many of the hundreds of teachers fired in Washington D.C.

Ms. Rhee has put back public education in this country and it will takes years for those in public education to recognize that many of the current ideas in public education are based upon falsehood and not reality.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 9, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse

anthonykrinsky:

Go to the pdf file of the UMBC study by Dr. Williams and Dr. Leak
Go to page 149 of the pdf and you will see the Reading CTBS scores for students who were at Harlem Park ES.

There were 56 3rd graders in this group for 1995 and the NCE was 45

Go to page 152 for the Math CTBS scores for the 3rd graders in 1995.
There were 53 test takers and their NCE was 51.

NCE is a few points above percentile.

Miss Rhee said she team taught with another teacher.
So, in order for Miss Rhee to have worked that 90% at 90th percentile miracle, a good number of the other students would have had to score near 0.
Possible, yes.
Likely, no.

Anthony, you can name call but you can't fudge the data.

MAybe Anthony will suggest that Dr. Williams and Dr. Leak foresaw the future and decided to sabotage Miss Rhee from the get go.

alwayswonderwhy- I understand that Bobby Fischer was impossible to deal with.

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 12:34 AM | Report abuse

In the last year, there were only two third-grade classes at Harlem Park. Rhee claims that she team-taught with the other teacher. So if she was telling the truth about that then, in fact, it was indeed her
and her colleague that supposedly brought those students from the very bottom to the very top -- but didn't.

In case you missed it, all of my numerical data on Rhee's alleged miracle comes from the UMBC study on the Tesseract project. I gave the links in several places. If the link I am going to provide doesn't work, you can always google it.
www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=ED390170
(I see that I forgot to put that link into a few of my articles. Sorry. I will fix that right now.)

Posted by: TexasIke59 | February 9, 2011 12:34 AM | Report abuse

PS - Brandenburg was unsuccessful in finding those scores on his own. Someone else (Ed Harris?) sent him the data link.

Posted by: TexasIke59 | February 9, 2011 12:36 AM | Report abuse

You seem to say that if a misstatement of fact is not a deliberate lie, it is an innocent mistake. There is at least one more category: A deliberate mistake. Saying and believing that something is true when you should know or could find out that it's not is a deliberate rejection of the facts. We went to war in Iraq because our leaders believed something that wasn't true and rejected information that conflicted with their preconceptions. That's not an innocent mistake. As a classroom teacher, Rhee observed her students continuously and should have known how well they were -- or weren't -- doing. When test results conflicted with her observations of her students, she should have known that something was wrong with the tests. But the results as presented made her look great, so she deliberately failed to question them. Not so innocent in my book. If your bank account shows a million dollars more than you expected, and you don't ask any questions, is that an innocent mistake? If you use the false balance as collateral for a loan, is that still an innocent mistake? When does it become willful fraud? Rhee was brought to D.C. based on claims of success that she should have known weren't true. That's more than an innocent mistake.

Posted by: none12 | February 9, 2011 12:46 AM | Report abuse

If her student scores really went up that much, it doesn't seem reasonable that a person would quit after reaching greatness in anything after only two years. She quit because she couldn't do it.

Posted by: ericpollock | February 9, 2011 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Here is Anthony Krinsky writing with his other hand:

"Jesus Escandon withdrew after admitting to lying about his criminal background and Dr. John “For the Kids” Fernandez lost his UTLA endorsement because of "serious concerns about Mr. Fernandez's truthfulness in the interview process and his qualifications and integrity to be a member of the school board." These liars, thugs, and cheats"

The end justifies the means?
Enquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Krinsky can be reached at anthonykrinsky@gmail.com.

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 1:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed that a leading education journalist doesn't understand the significance of the false Rhee claim and how she parlayed false modesty to great effect. By claiming that she, proven mortal by failure in her first year of teaching, could and did participate in outstanding achievement gains in her students as just a third year crash-trained teacher, she established a basis for her (preposterous) insistence that improvements like this were within the ability of all teachers she would recruit and place, and then as a schools Chancellor who she would hire and retain. This fed very nicely the Hanushek claim that firing ineffective teachers -- all of them readily identifiable from student test-scores -- ,and replacing them with even just average ones would cut achievement gaps within the schooling life of children who were a couple of grade levels behind by the third grade.

I'd draw parallels to the language Jesus is reported to use in the Gospels, demurring on the source of seeming miracles he performed. A divine servant or merely a mortal one?

Posted by: incredulous | February 9, 2011 1:45 AM | Report abuse

This is a really good topic posted by Jay Matthews. I am very interested in it because I have found that the majority of teachers I've worked with work their butts off and still get poor results. I work incredibly hard and extremely long hours, but some of these teachers I see are in the stratosphere as far as how much they put in, their organizational and management skills, their motivation skills, yet they still get the same low results. Although I've been a partial Rhee supporter, I see there are so many variables as to what causes students to become great students.

The thing I didn't like about Rhee is she gave the impression that most veteran teachers become deadwood. The one thing I've learned is over the years your philosophies change drastically. I have also come to learn how valuable a good veteran is. Anyone who has gone into teaching sees after a couple years how long the development period takes to become a great teacher. So I can't understand her putting so much faith in these newcomers, although I'm sure many of them will turn out well, but not until after long struggle. I wish the general public could see what a teacher has to go through and overcome to become a great teacher. It would take a hell of a script writer to bring it out.

Furthermore, I like this article because I feel there are a lot of teachers out there who do everything possible, follow all the research, high expectations, you name it, but things don't change for them. And it becomes unfair if those teachers are deceived into thinking they should be "Rhee-like" if that ideal is not really the truth in regards to test scores.

Finally, I want to see Bill Gates be a first year Title I teacher. I think we'd really see the truth if that happened.

Posted by: Playitagainsam | February 9, 2011 1:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed that a leading education journalist doesn't understand the significance of the false Rhee claim and how she parlayed false modesty to great effect. By claiming that she, proven mortal by failure in her first year of teaching, could and did participate in outstanding achievement gains in her students as just a third year crash-trained teacher, she established a basis for her (preposterous) insistence that improvements like this were within the ability of all teachers she would recruit and place, and then as a schools Chancellor who she would hire and retain. This fed very nicely the Hanushek claim that firing ineffective teachers -- all of them readily identifiable from student test-scores -- ,and replacing them with even just average ones would cut achievement gaps within the schooling life of children who were a couple of grade levels behind by the third grade.

I'd draw parallels to the language Jesus is reported to use in the Gospels, demurring on the source of seeming miracles he performed. A divine servant or merely a mortal one?

Posted by: incredulous | February 9, 2011 1:45 AM | Report abuse

here's my attempt to categorize mainstream media coverage of rhee's claims according to how well they did

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2011/02/media-maybe-she-didnt-eat-the-bee-either.html

not surprisingly, most did badly or just barely covered their asses ("let the readers decide," they always say in situations like this.)

the first and best attempt to get at the question was jonathan tilove's newhouse profile from november 2007, which is archived here:

jonathantilove.com/michelle-rhee/

he called her claim "breathtaking" and noted that she said she made attempts to get verification

/alexander

Posted by: alexanderrusso | February 9, 2011 2:03 AM | Report abuse

MR is complicated. When Chancellor she assisted me in an important and meaningful way to get around stupid bureaucratic red tape in order to help a student. I'm also paid about 20% more than I would be if the WTU had its way.

On the other hand, she brought so much acrimony, disharmony, and dispirit to the District. Heartache is left in her wake. IMPACT is a bad nightmare for most teachers.

Brandenburg's analysis clearly shows that she distorted her record. Her credibility as a "data-driven" educator is now zero.
Its too bad for her because most people
would have been impressed with her approximate actual record (raising scores from 13th to 50th percentile).

She needs to be held accountable. What I am wondering now is how. A few ideas (albeit ones generated at 2am when I can't sleep because I'm invested with students who have significant learning difficulties):

1. Journalists who gave her a pass on her own success in the classroom need to revisit and reflect on this new information, and share these reflections with a wide audience.

2. Adrian Fenty needs to explain why he accepted her claims without hard evidence. Lots of careers have been derailed in DCPS due to MR's tenure, and he is responsible for bringing her here.

3. Someone, not sure who, needs to stridently oppose her goal of raising $1b to take down teacher unions. I agree with the posters that say she got the job because of her resume embellishments. She is now a national figure because she was made Chancellor here in Washington. IMO, she and the other TFA cult members are primarily interested in policy and power, and it would be glorious if a MR take-down occurs and TFA's currency is devalued. No cults in public education!

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 9, 2011 2:18 AM | Report abuse

On further though, the parallels between M. Rhee and Trofim Lysenko are too delicious. Then, as now, there were apologists for the absent science, for the famines, for the genuine professionals who lost their careers.
Well... millions aren't starving as a result of Rhee's picadillo..... and Jay is California dreamin' on such a winter's day.

Posted by: incredulous | February 9, 2011 2:39 AM | Report abuse

Jay, just curious. Why is this HUGH piece of news buried in your online blog and not on the front page of Time Magazine (or the Wash Post Metro Section for that matter)?

Posted by: mrpozzi | February 9, 2011 3:35 AM | Report abuse

You state "He unearthed a report on the work of the private company contracted by Baltimore to run Rhee's school when she was there in the early to mid 1900s." Rhee must be A LOT older than anyone thought. I don't think she was teaching in Baltimore in the 1950s. You have to be more careful in editing your blog;) Was it early to mid 1980s or 1990s?

Posted by: drvote | February 9, 2011 5:42 AM | Report abuse

mrpozzi, great point. It will be interesting to see where this new information gets published, and who of her many admirers acknowledges this inconvenient truth about a non-super hero, non-warrior woman. Jay has at least put it up on the blog.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 9, 2011 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Well Jay, at least you are willing to publish the truth about Michelle Rhee. She wasn't the miracle teacher she would have parents believe, right? In fact, she was quite crappy for much of her *three years* in teaching and then, like any good hustler, sold her version of reality to those willing to buy it.

And I do mean buy it in the literal sense. Rhee had an obvious motive to lie: money, status, power. Can it even be argued that she did not parlay her false (and clearly baseless) claims of high achievement (test scores) into a cash cow for herself and some friends?

Here's a thought: Can someone make a documentary about all the millionaires/billionaires that have an "investment" in education and track where all of the *public funding* and tax breaks go? Just saying...

Posted by: Nikki1231 | February 9, 2011 6:43 AM | Report abuse

THANK YOU Edlharris, for relentlessly digging to get this information that no reporter was interested enough to find. You are truly the unsung hero of this affair.

THANK YOU Guy Brandenburg for analyzing the data and bringing it to public attention.

THANK YOU Alexander Russo, for your Scholastic blog that tracks mainstream media's pitiful reporting on Rhee's miracle. I’ve tracked much of the same information and am delighted to see it highlighted here [reposted for emphasis]: http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2011/02/media-maybe-she-didnt-eat-the-bee-either.html

THANK YOU, Jay, for even posting this story. I agree with others’ criticism of your journalistic angle, but also feel it could be a first step to changing the mainstream media’s approach to reporting on Rhee. For years now, I’ve been saying that the media, once learning the truth, would drop its heroine worship and start reporting on the bigger, better and actually true story of her deceptions. Maybe I’m finally right.

How about as a start, you post the direct link to Guy’s data in your story, above.
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/the-rhee-miracle-examined-again-by-cohort/

Then make sure all your print journalist buddies get a copy of this with an appeal from you to write their own investigative piece on this story.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Long overdue. Her self-promotion based on false claimes was obvious to anyone who has taught school. Now, let's do an "Emperor's New Clothes" number on every other "reformer" with the hidden agenda of privatizing schools to make someone a cart load of money at taxpayers' expense.

Posted by: Jennifer88 | February 9, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I hope Arne and Oprah get word of this!

Hey Oprah, looks like you need to do another show!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 9, 2011 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Jay has sucked up in previous columns to both Michelle Rhee and (most recently) Wendy Kopp.

He deserves to be chastised for both, and for distorting the research on Advanced Placement, and for promoting charters and bashing teachers (although he denies he’s done that).

What is most outlandish regarding this discussion is not that Rhee lied (or grossly distorted the results of her teaching efforts, depending on your choice of semantics....I prefer the term lied), but the comments from some who defend her.

Especially egregious are the comments of Anthony Krinsky, who refers to Jay’s column here as a “hatchet-job” on Rhee (Earth to Krinsky...it’s not, not even close).

Krinsky is a guy who takes EVERY opportunity to bash teacher unions. Krinsky has made such ludicrous statements as “teacher unionists have the blood of America's decline and the shattered dreams of our children on their hands.”

Apparently Krinsky wasn’t paying attention when supply-side enthusiasts piled up debt, deregulated Wall Street and helped turn it into a taxpayer-subsidized casino, shipped millions of jobs off-shore, allowed poverty to increase and broke the economy.

And Krinsky cannot explain why, if unions are soooo bad, that strong union states like Maryland and Massachusetts rank high in student achievement while non-union states like Alabama and Mississippi rank at the bottom.

Of course, Krinsky isn’t concerned with factual matters. In his view “even our ‘best’ public schools really suck,” although there are no reliable data to substantiate that slur.

Krinsky is no friend of public education. Like Rhee, he invokes the moral wail of “the children,” but what he really wants is “a robust free-enterprise” system. This from a person who neither understands assessment and test scores (he cites NAEP standards even though every expert analysis finds them so flawed that they are unusable), nor seems to have any insight into just how corrupt “market” systems are.

Michelle Rhee and Wendy Kopp, like Kopp’s mouthpiece Kevin Huffman, are charlatans. They distort, they manipulate data (and politicians), they make things up and omit critical facts, and they lie.

They promote policies and practices (more testing, charter schools, merit pay for teachers, vouchers) that have no research foundation and that make public schooling worse.

Their real “reform” agenda is privatization.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 9, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

You were used, Jay. Why aren't you outraged?

Posted by: pittypatt | February 9, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

G.F. Brandenburg's blog wouldn't be so memorable if the media elite hadn't adopted Michelle Rhee's super hype of her own record hook line and sinker. As it is Brandeburg has done an incredible job of piercing the hype around Rhee.

I would hope that some of those like the Washington Post and the producers of Waiting for Superman would finally admit that Rhee is no miracle worker and that it is important when pushing for education reform to do it honestly and involve teachers, the community and especially parents in the effort.

Rhee's latest effort, StudentsFirst is another hype by Rhee trying to become a leader in the political fight for education reform. All people have to do is look to her political abilities -or lack of them- in DC to know what a sham that is.

That is not to say Rhee doesn't have some good ideas. But nearly all of them aren't new ideas. And just about all the projects she began while Chancellor in DC are now being looked at again not because they were bad ideas but because Rhee either didn't think them all the way through before she began them or just didn't have the administrative or mangagement abilities to do them well. These would include areas like her master teacher project and professional education coaches.

Rhee shouln't be put up for sainthood nor should she be villified. But because she was so interested in publicity it seems that these are the only two options people have when talking about Rhee. The middle ground, where Rhee actually falls, gets lost.

Posted by: peterdc | February 9, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Playitagainsam says it very well.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Playitagainsam says that if Bill Gates were a first-year teacher, then the public might learn the truth about how hard teaching is.

While I appreciate that sentiment, my advice would be “Don’t hold your breath.”

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) just published a new study on the methodology used by the Los Angeles Times in compiling the “value-added analysis” scores of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The results of that study can nearly be summed up by this sentence: “This study makes it clear that the L.A. Times and its research team have done a disservice to the teachers, students, and parents of Los Angeles."

The study found that the value-added methodology used by Times editors and reporters was neither reliable nor valid. About half of all teachers could not be separated reliably from “average” teachers and into categories of “highly effective” or “not effective.”

And, the NEPC study found “significant and meaningful associations" between "…effectiveness and their experience and educational background.”

Public education critics (like Michelle Rhee and Wendy Kopp, or example) often say there are no such relationships between teaching experience, teacher education background, and achievement.

So, how did the LA Times report this new study, and its conclusions?

Here is the headline: “Separate study confirms many Los Angeles Times findings on teacher effectiveness.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/07/local/la-me-teacher-study-20110207

Read the study, and then read the article, and you are likely to think that either you badly misread the study, or the study got very, very badly reported (it’s the latter). The Times just refuses to admit that its reporting has contributed to a massive dose of public misinformation, the exact opposite of what newspapers should do in a democratic republic.

Then again, the Washington Post editorial page ignored all kinds of information, data and well-accepted research findings to laud Michelle Rhee’s brand of “reform” when it might have been doing its job. There are any number of Post reporters and columnists who jumped on the bandwagon.

We have yet to see an honest accounting of their failure(s).

Peterdc says that Michelle Rhee was really in “the middle ground” of reformers. No, she wasn’t. Those in the middle don’t spew lies and consistently tout policies that have been shown NOT to work (merit pay) or for which there is scant evidence (charters).

Those in the “middle” do not practice top-down, “I-know-best-don’t-question-me” change, nor do they publicly assail those to whom the change(s) most affect.

There are many who followed Michelle Rhee’s tenure in the DC schools. Nobody needed a Mensa membership to know that what Michelle Rhee said about her own very short-lived teaching career seemed more than just too-good-to-be-true. It appeared downright phony.

And it was.

Posted by: mcrockett1 | February 9, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I was referring to Playitagainsam's point that what was/is really dihonest and unfair to students is the idea that most experienced teachers are "deadwood" as he/she puts it. He is correct that it takes years to teach, much education of the teacher and much dedication and hardwork. TFA is not bad in and of itself, however, I feel those young teachers are being thrown into difficult situations without training. It is not fair to the students or to the new teachers.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow, edlharris. Really? Has it come to that? Instead of disagreeing with a guy's points, you post his email address, which for all I know he wants to keep private.

Jay Matthews, the commenters on this blog continually amaze me in how nasty they can be to each other. And no, you don't need profanity to be nasty. Jay, you need to enforce some standards instead of being a wimp. This is just sick.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

@hainish
I disagree that the posters are particularly nasty here. In fact, they know more about education than on the other boards. Just read the comments on the article about the teacher punching case if you don't believe me.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Just like with Iraq's WMD, so with the Rhee
miracle...and so with most of what the WaPo
and the NYT publish these days: You can make
money betting that actual reality is the
opposite of the reality being described in
the stories the corporate-owned media barrage
us with.

Posted by: youngWaPoreader | February 9, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

@youngWaPoreader
OK, but then explain the fact that Jay Matthews wrote this blog. Is this supposed to be a little drip of truth?

What bugs me is that Oprah, Time Magazine, Arne Duncan and other prominent people jumped on the bandwagon. What do they have to say about this lie on the resume?

Also, who was that other teacher that taught with her? What does he or she have to say?

Also, read Brandenburg's blog. He says the number of students being tested dropped from 84 to 44. Even if those 44 went up to the 90th percentile, it is totally misleading to only test half the class.

Why can't we have real analysis of these numbers?

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

georgia, I have read other blogs and forums, and they are the baseline for my comparison. The people here *are* nastier. To each other, and to the blogger. I've never seen this sort of thing anywhere else.

I'm not sure why you'd point me to another blog post to support the assertion that they're "more knowledgeable about education." It's not my impression, but that wasn't the point I was making anyway, so it's irrelevant.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Jay,

Thanks for writing about this. It's very important, as Rhee has essentially hung her hat on her own miraculous test scores. I don't know if she was being dishonest or simply did not know, but either way this is a major deal.

Sadly, the damage has been done. Just as Rod Paige carved an ill-conceived NCLB out of his own contrived Houston Miracle, so has Rhee created the "teachers can overcome everything" philosophy based on her own supposed successes.

Oh, and it's interesting that while her scores did rise modestly, her class sizes also got smaller. Important qualifier.

Posted by: joshofstl1 | February 9, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Hainish says, "Instead of disagreeing with a guy's points, you post his email address, which for all I know he wants to keep private."

Disagree -

Anyone who wanted privacy wouldn't use his unusual real name as a screen name and wouldn't use the same name for his email address.

It's simple to find that kind of info on the internet.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

efavorite, what is that? The short-skirt theory of personal attack?

"It was easy to find" doesn't excuse edlharris's behavior. And apparently, you are making excuses for him.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate this lively discusssion. I will post what I said on the Education Writers Association listserve, where a pretty lively debate(not as good as this one, however) is underway.
One of my weaknesses, at least to some people, is that I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and that includes flame-prone commenters and school chancellors. I think she knew she had test score gains. The UMBC report confirms that she was right, but Brandenburg clearly nailed her, contrary to what some posters say above, as reporting gains much greater than were mathematically possible, as other posters above have also pointed out.
For hainish---I did NOT post edlharris's email address. I don't know what it is. I think he may have emailed me at some point, but I did not write down his address. I identified him as he identifies himself often on this blog, as edlharris.
As you will see me saying in my next post.... Heck, I will make it a new item...I think edlharris deserves much praise, and I would like to know more about exactly how he found the UMBC report, and where he thinks it was all this time. Please tell us more about this Ed, if I may call you Ed, either in an email to me at mathewsj@washpost.com or as a post here. We can learn much from you.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 9, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the commenter hainish thinks it might be "nasty" to say that there were multiple lies told by Bush administration officials about weapons of mass destruction before the run-up to war in Iraq?

Perhaps it'd be "nasty" to say that intelligence was manipulated ....badly.

Maybe it'd be "nasty" to say that Donald Rumsfeld is now trying to re-write the history of the Iraq war, and his role in fomenting it.

I suppose someone might take "offense" and say it's "nasty" to point out how big bankers and hedge fund managers helped to cause the mortgage and financial crises...and that they often pay only a flat 15 percent rate on their income that they call "carried interest."

Surely someone must think it "nasty" to report that these same hedge fund managers and bankers are earning "bonuses" because taxpayers bailed them out, and because they continue to get almost free money from the Fed....as they continue to skirt accountability.

Are all of the above examples "Nasty?" Maybe, but I doubt it.

Are they all true? Undoubtedtly.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 9, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the commenter hainish thinks it might be "nasty" to say that there were multiple lies told by Bush administration officials about weapons of mass destruction before the run-up to war in Iraq?

Perhaps it'd be "nasty" to say that intelligence was manipulated ....badly.

Maybe it'd be "nasty" to say that Donald Rumsfeld is now trying to re-write the history of the Iraq war, and his role in fomenting it.

I suppose someone might take "offense" and say it's "nasty" to point out how big bankers and hedge fund managers helped to cause the mortgage and financial crises...and that they often pay only a flat 15 percent rate on their income that they call "carried interest."

Surely someone must think it "nasty" to report that these same hedge fund managers and bankers are earning "bonuses" because taxpayers bailed them out, and because they continue to get almost free money from the Fed....as they continue to skirt accountability.

Are all of the above examples "Nasty?" Maybe, but I doubt it.

Are they all true? Undoubtedly.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 9, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

To Hainish,

If you are a public figure and you tell people publicly your email address online, that means you welcome people to share their ideas with you. It's not like someone hacked this guy's computer and spread his secrets to the world. Do you still live in 1970s? Give me a break....

Posted by: washingtonian2011 | February 9, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: hainish

He posted his email address on his website, www.stoputla.com.

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

My apologies to hainish. I misread her earlier post about email addresses. She wasn't talking about my using edlharris's signon. I also thank readers for noting I said 1900s when I meant 1990s. I will go fix that now and confess to the error in the copy.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 9, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

So, wait, I criticize the behavior of people commenting on a blog, so therefore I must have supported the Iraq war? Are you kidding me?

No, DrDemocracy, the commenters here aren't nasty because of the POV they espouse. They are nasty because of the way they attack each other. Try again.

edlharris: Please see my reply to efavorite. If you have a valid point of view, you can simply state it. Publishing your opponent's email address doesn't bolster your arguments, it only serves to make you look like a bully.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Jay, to clarify, edlharris posted another commenter's email address.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Question for Jay: What do you think should happen now? Should this new information about Rhee's discrepancy be shared/commented on widely in the media? What is the media's responsibility since many outlets promoted her approach and agenda?

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 9, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The other teacher with Michelle Rhee was Michele Jacobs, 38, who taught in a combined third-grade class with Rhee in 1994-95, She said: "I honestly would go with what [Rhee] says...She probably is correct. I know it was high gains. It definitely was high gains."

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

If Jay and other WashPo reporters are in the mood to do some real digging into Rhee's record, then perhaps they should take another, harder look at the way in which DCPS and the OSSE handled the 2009 probe of possible test-tampering at several DC schools. Bill Turque did a nice job reporting the story for a while (e.g, see http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2009/09/was_erasure_analysis_erased.html), but the trail went cold after the investigation produced "inconclusive" findings. (Plus, the story was soon eclipsed by the 2009 controversy over teacher layoffs.)

Contrast the lackluster DC investigation with the aggressive way in which similar allegations were handled recently in Georgia (with prompting from Gov. Perdue). In Atlanta, a terrific, veteran school superintendent was eventually given no choice but to resign her post because she appeared to have turned a blind eye to the issue. Here in DC, on the other hand, the Superintendent was hardly pressed on the matter, and the story died on the vine.

Seems to me that the public deserves some assurance that a real, hard-nosed effort was made to look into possible tampering with DC test scores. And if the probe was indeed as cursory as it appeared, then we should know why the issue wasn't taken more seriously.

Like the matter of Rhee's teaching performance, it's a story that shouldn't be dropped and forgotten. Far from old news, it's an episode that raises much larger questions about the wisdom of current approaches to school and teacher accountability.

Posted by: edurealist | February 9, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@ hainish edlharris: Please see my reply to efavorite. If you have a valid point of view, you can simply state it.

Hainish,
I did state it.
I copied the data from the report that showed the test scores of the 1995 3rd graders who had been at the school for two years.
Those would be the pool of kids Miss Rhee claimed to have taken from the 13th percentile in grade 2 to 90% at the 90th percentile at the end of third grade.
The data doesn't show what Miss Rhee, nor Mr Krinsky, claims.

If you don't like that data, go to the report and get better data to support Mr. Krinsky and Miss Rhee.
If you can't download it, put up your email address and I'll email the report to you.

If I was to post that 2+2=4, would you call me a bully?
(Funny, that you're the one projecting here.)

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The real issue here is that Ms. Rhee has been clearly shown to be an opportunist in the bad sense of the word. Call what she did lying or not, but it was definitely deceptive and unethical. If your career advancement was based so much on such reportedly gaudy numbers, wouldn't you at least try to find out if they were accurate, and correct them if they were not? I know I'd be acutely embarrassed if I found out later that the figures I quoted were so highly inflated. Then again, maybe that's why I never became a big-city school superintendent. Some may say that this is simply the way of the world, how one gets to the top; I say it's craven and unethical and worthy of scorn.

The actual data are hard to interpret - I'm not sure what Brandenburg means when he wonders whether students were "counseled out" - it's not as if 3rd graders can drop out. But the drop in the sample size is highly suspicious and could easily account for the rise in test scores.

Kudos to Jay Mathews for having the courage to report this dissenting view. Now take the next step and have the courage to incorporate multiple perspectives into your viewpoint. This whole standardized testing mania is a social engineering disaster in the making and rotten to the core. The longer you seem to insist otherwise, the longer your viewpoint will remain of highly limited value.

Finally, a thanks to Anthony Krinsky for so vividly illustrating this point with his post which typifies the dangers and farcical idiocy of this approach to education "reform" by claiming that "there are scores of great teachers in LAUSD -- and we can finally identify the elementary school ones by name..." By which we assume you mean the top 100 list http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/rank/top-100-teachers/ ? What a crock.

Even the LA Times's own FAQs note that value-added scores do "not at all" tell you everything you need to know about a teacher or school. But Krinsky has taken the inevitable thoughtless shortcut, so what he's really saying is that we can finally identify the great elementary school teachers by name based entirely on one or two snapshots (reading/math test scores) out of an entire student's career, and based on an odd little formula which literally factors out creativity, curiosity, character, leadership, perseverance, performance in other subjects, quality of students' classroom work, "and many other factors." This is what the LA "Teacher Ratings" encourage: thoughtless judgments based on incomplete and relatively insignificant metrics.

Read the LA teacher responses provide a much more nuanced and useful view on the situation. http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/responses/page/1/ . Pay particular attention to Debra J. Packer's comments (one of the so-called top 100') http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/teacher/debra-j-packer/, which I'm betting has more teacherly wisdom and value in it than all of Ms. Rhee's speeches.

Posted by: tenkanv2 | February 9, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

What is scary about this boys and girls, is that there are people still out there without any functional literacy in educational realities that actually believe Michelle Rhee had something worthwhile to offer in educational reform. The fact that she was a fraud doesn’t even enter the picture for them because improving or just stabilizing education is not their main focus. It is much easier to spew unsupported negatives than actually think about a problem.

Posted by: jdman2 | February 9, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Ed: You posted Krinsky's email address.

Don't for a minute try to pretend that this is about anything other than that.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@ hainish, who writes : "I criticize the behavior of people commenting on a blog, so therefore I must have supported the Iraq war?"

I did NOT say that YOU supported the war in Iraq. Please do NOT put words in my mouth or distort the point I made, which apparently you failed to grasp. Perhaps I was unclear, so let me restate.

My point was that reporting ACCURATE information, and uncovering the truth is not "nasty" although some may perceive it to be (especially those who've perpetrated the fraud and those who bought it).

There were, and continue to be, many, many lies about the need for war in Iraq (all false, most especially those about WMD). So too, there are those who try to lay the blame for the economic cataclysm at the doors of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (only partly true) and absolve the people and policies that were the crux of the problem.

Similarly, the business model approach to education "reform," endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, the Washington Post (and many others, including Arne Duncan) relies on partial truths, half-truths, untruths, and outright lies, but very little if any reliable, valid research.

Personally, I do not think it is "nasty" to report the truth, nor is it "nasty" to point out who is misinforming the public, how they are doing so. Nor is it "nasty" to suggest what the real agenda might be (especially, as in the case of Teach for America VP for Public Relations Kevin Huffman, when it gets published by the Washington Post, which has a record of misinforming the public).

As some have pointed out in other venues, Rhee's accomplishments as superintendent were marginal. The greatest gain scores came early in her three-year tenure, and can more likely be attributed to her predecessor (and/or to the cheating scandal that never got adequately resolved) than it can be to her ideas. Gain scores declined steadily during her term, and some scores regressed. Not much of a record.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 9, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Jay - please also direct your media buddies to the many direct quotes from Rhee I've provided here. They all have good links that can be easily checked.

Some are contradictory; some are just scary. All could fit into a good, accurate story for any journalist willing to buck the trend of writing about Rhee as Saviour of the Schools.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

>I did NOT say that YOU supported the war in Iraq. Please do NOT put words


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


>My point was that reporting ACCURATE information, and uncovering the truth is not "nasty"

Great! I agree with you! It is not nasty, in fact, it is necessary.

What is nasty is the way commenters on this blog treat each other, a point which _you_ apparently you failed to grasp.

Perhaps I was unclear, so let me restate.

It does not matter what side you're on. Posting someone's email address in the course of making your case is not OK.

I hope that readers can separate POV and tactics.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that "counseled out" means that the students were somehow reclassified before taking the test. Some may have been identified for special services, which would be a good thing if they needed them.

There are lots of things that can be done with the data. I remember a school I was at had teachers finding students and asking them if it was ok if they changed their racial profile to Hispanic. (the students in question were white with Hispanic backgrounds or of mixed ethnicities. (that wasn't in DCPS )

To hainsih,
I mentioned Brandenburg's blog because I checked it out and thought it was interesting. I didn't mean that it had anything necessarily to do with those who post here.

As for nasty, it is nasty to treat good teachers harshly. It is nasty to invent a myth that teachers at poor schools are all horrible and make a movie spouting untruth.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Rhee told me that her information about huge gains in her students' scores came from her principal at the time. She had no data to back it up, but went with the best information she had, her memory, when asked how her students did."


She also claimed this unverified but highly questionable "accomplishment" on her resume. She had NO OTHER credentials for the job she was given. Given her fast and loose misstatements in other contexts, I don't think lie is an inappropriate characterization. Rhee's defense always seems to echo the Reagan defense during Iran-Contra; both seem to argue that they're not dishonest, just really, really stupid.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 9, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

georgia, you seem to think that if someone criticizes the general tone of the comments here, that they must support some injustice elsewhere.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

@Ed: You posted Krinsky's email address.

Don't for a minute try to pretend that this is about anything other than that.

Posted by: hainish

First projection, now switching the topic.

What's next
Asssociation?
Name calling?

Posted by: edlharris | February 9, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I remain confused by hainish's obtuseness.

Anthony Krinsky has posted many places, all with an uninformed (biased and hostile toward pubic education) point of view.

Google his name and you'll find "Anthony's blog."

From that blog he directs you to his email address.

So, where is the problem?

It seems to me that the "nastiness" is coming more from you....

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 9, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

>First projection, now switching the topic.

Wow, really? I think you're being deliberately obtuse.

Ed, read over my comments. That IS the topic. That has been the ONLY topic I have said anything about this entire thread.*

I don't know, or care, who this Krinsky guy is. It isn't relevant. You posted arguments him, and in the course of that, you posted his email address. I could agree with you 100%, Ed, and still decry that.

(* OK, not entirely true...I did state that the commenters here treat each other worse than at comparable education blogs. That has nothing to do with their POV.)

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

DrDemocracy, for me, it comes down to separating POV from tactics.

If you don't see any problem with posting an opponent's email address in this context, then there is nothing more I can say to you. We can agree to disagree.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

at 2:33, should be "arguments against"

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@hanish
I just say what I think. I disagree about the nastiness, but, that is just my opinion. Overall, the education blogs seem to attract more knowledgeable people. (about education)
My point was that if you go to the main pages many people say racist things, put down people based on political affiliation and generally insult eachother rather than discuss the issue at hand. Here generally people seem to stick to the point that the reporter brought up in the first place, although I agree that many are critical, in general. I am too at times.

I don't like inaccuracies. I can't stand it when people exaggerate numbers. It is a pet peeve of mine. When doing that leads to a mistaken reform movement that harms students, I call it nasty.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm a TFA alum and DCPS graduate who generally has supported Rhee and her reforms — anyone who thinks that teachers should not be fired as part of reform has never attended a DCPS school. DCPS needed a kick in the pants, and she delivered it.

Nonetheless, I think this issue about Rhee fabricating her test score past is tremendously important -- and Jay, even if you don't like the word "lie" you have to admit that it was unethical to place such hard numbers on what she KNEW was a fuzzy claim. If my principal tells me, "You did a great job, your kids gained tremendously," I am NOT at liberty to place a statistically extraordinary number on that claim. That is simply dishonest, even if one only says it once, let alone puts it on her resume and broadcasts it nationwide.

Her fantasy scores highlight one of my biggest concerns about the "data-driven" movement: the numbers on which they base their ideas are often simply fantasy. As one previous blogger noted, anyone with any understanding of teaching and statistics would have seen Rhee's claims as being fantastical. I get nauseated when I hear beginning teachers (esp. in the TFA camp) talk about how they "increased students' reading by 3.2 grade levels in 9 months..." -- as if those numbers are statistically valid. The pre- and post-tests on which those numbers are based are of dubious value (and are often self-constructed by the teacher), and most teachers don't have access to reliable tests.

Jay, you really would do a service to Post readers if you were to trumpet both the moral implications and the political ramifications of Rhee's dishonesty. The media has certainly trumpeted her claims in general, so it's only fair to trumpet some good old-fashioned fact-checking.

Posted by: myerschris1973 | February 9, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

georgia, that's the thing...I'm not comparing the commenters here to those on other WaPo forums, I'm comparing them to those on other education-focused blogs. YMMV.

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

What is YMMV?

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Mathews, Brandenburg was right. Rhee lied!

Just as Ronald Reagan and the other users of the "I can't remember," defense are telling a self serving lie.

Rhee lied on her resume, a firable offense. She stated "after two years 90 percent of her students had reached the 90th percentile in reading and math." That's not even close to the facts. Kind of like me adding to my resume that I was the winning QB in the Superbowl this year.

Rhee's defense for lying on her resume? "I went with the best information I had, my memory." Delusions of Grander Rhee? Or a self serving liar? I think both.

Posted by: chucky-el | February 9, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Here are the standard definitions for lie:

1. ( intr ) to speak untruthfully with intent to mislead or deceive
2. ( intr ) to convey a false impression or practise deception

Rhee's actions clearly meet the second standard. She made false claims that she made little effort to verify. She's not rigorous.

Speaking of which, how is Jay coming with his analysis of the education fraud practiced by the Washington Post Company?

Posted by: WestBerkeleyFlats | February 9, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Quote "The actual data are hard to interpret - I'm not sure what Brandenburg means when he wonders whether students were "counseled out" - it's not as if 3rd graders can drop out. But the drop in the sample size is highly suspicious and could easily account for the rise in test scores:
----------------------
Absolutely. Brandenburg was being euphemistic. His suspicion is that the students and their parents either got fed up and left the school to attend another one, or else they were TOLD to not come back the next year.

Posted by: TexasIke59 | February 9, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The principal gave her this information without handing over the results? She didn't have access to her students' scores? BAHAHAHAHA! As an educator, I can tell you that is a falsehood!

Posted by: yabooklady | February 9, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

YMMV = your mileage may vary

Posted by: hainish | February 9, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

A teacher on top of her game doesn't know what 90 percentile in math and reading look like? If she took away anything from her experience it would have been how she did using the metrics available.

She's either incompetent or fabricating.

She certainly comes across as smart so I'm going to go with she made it up.

Posted by: zebra22 | February 9, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

thetensionmakesitwork said “2. Adrian Fenty needs to explain why he accepted her claims without hard evidence. Lots of careers have been derailed in DCPS due to MR's tenure, and he is responsible for bringing her here.”

Thank you for this comment and part of the problem with Rhee can be traced back to beginning.

“Fenty selected Rhee after conducting a secret search, repeatedly saying publicly that he had made no decisions and was considering keeping Janey. In the interview, Fenty said he considered a list of about 30 names during the past two months, including Miami-Dade County Superintendent Rudolph F. Crew. Fenty consulted few, if any, local leaders and parents but sought advice from New York City School Chancellor Joel I. Klein and national education experts.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/11/AR2007061102383_pf.html

Hmmmm the same Joel I. Klein who baked his own test scores.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/07/30/2010-07-30_ed_scores_dont_pass_smell_test_kids_losers_in_mike_and_joels_game.html

(Please read the comment section…it’s sooo much better, it is ironic how similar their sentiments mirror those on the washpo commenters)

It seems that Rhee has had many issues with numbers and data. From the CFO not giving her the correct budget information to the Department of Education questioning the data showing gains (although gains have been occurring in DCPS for a couple of years now). Please see http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/03/feds_poke_holes_in_district_rt.html#more

Posted by: thelildiva4u | February 9, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

In my own work (social science research), if I make a claim about conducting an experiment and it is found out later I hadn't actually done the experiment, *even* if I honestly thought I'd performed it but just happen to have mislaid my original record of it, there is a term for what I've done: Academic dishonesty.

Or, in other words, a lie. A lie, in fact, that I could lose not just my job but my career over.

This is the case even if it happens to have been classroom research—that is, running an experiment to determine what pedagogical approaches are best for teaching my particular subject.

So please tell me, Mr. Mathews, why in the world shouldn't we call what Ms Rhee did lying?

Posted by: dfbdfb | February 9, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is extraordinarily skillful, but not at managing a school system. She has a rare talent for temporarily getting smart people to believe in her and support her fervently and unconditionally.

These smart people wouldn’t necessarily describe their support in these terms. It’s unusual for them to get pulled in emotionally, so they don’t reflect much on the possibility that their good sense has been compromised. Journalists who are excited by the chancellor’s vision and determination reflexively and repeatedly sing her praises in the press. Other smart people leave their jobs to go to work for her.

People who change their lives for a cause or publicly put their credibility on the line have an especially hard time noticing any negative reality that might interfere with their glowing first impressions.

Being smart people, however, they eventually re-engage their analytical skills and swallow their pride. They recognize that their unconditional support is not warranted. While mourning the lost of a miracle cure for the schools, they begin to curb their unwitting complicity in further injuring an already ailing system. That is the phase we’re entering now.
------

I originally wrote these words on February 9th, 2009, exactly two years ago today. Obviously my timing was off. Maybe it still is, but I still think the day will come.

At the very least, I’m hoping that journalists will begin to see a better story in deconstructing the Rhee myth rather than perpetuating it.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope this story makes the print edition and the local news.

As someone commented earlier, the people of DC were "hoodwinked."

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 9, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Urban Dweller, if the information does not make the print edition and local news, it would have to be considered a coverup. Jay, please answer the question about what should happen now? How far does the media's responsibility go? The public requires factual, hard-charging journalism so sacred cows, myths, etc. are not allowed to take root. Are you having to argue for this story to see the light of day?

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 9, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Nick Anderson (a less credulous reporter than Mathews) is doing a story on this. He interviewed Brandenburg, and is looking at the 1995 Tesseract/UMBC/BPS report as well. Wonder how it will come out.

Posted by: TexasIke59 | February 9, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh Good - it will be in the print edition, which means the editorial board will comment on it.

I can't wait to see them twisting themselves into a pretzel over this one.

And let's not forget the other resume lies about her teaching methods being acclaimed on GMA and the WSJ.

Not as egregious, but still lies.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Liar, liar, pants on fire. As the above posts clearly show, there was never any there "there." Rhee's pedagogical prowess was full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing except the economic death of lowly teachers sacrificed at the altar of her highniness.

Posted by: lilpixiefig@aol.com | February 9, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

@Wow, edlharris. Really? Has it come to that? Instead of disagreeing with a guy's points, you post his email address, which for all I know he wants to keep private.

Jay Matthews, the commenters on this blog continually amaze me in how nasty they can be to each other. And no, you don't need profanity to be nasty. Jay, you need to enforce some standards instead of being a wimp. This is just sick.

Posted by: hainish
____________

Now, I'm getting on in the years, but I don't recall hainish commenting on Jay's blog before. Is hainish Anthony Krinsky in drag?

So, hainish wanders into this den and is voices faux outrage at the nastiness of some, unnamed commentors. Hainish seems to disdain what is provable and verifiable is posted and would rather have things made up.

hainish reminds me of the Groucho Marx line:
Margaret Dumont/foil "I didn't come here to be insulted!"
Groucho-"well, where do you usually go?"


Hainish- nasty is Michelle Rhee's attack upon the good name of the 200+ teachers she fired in Oct 2009. She said: "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school,"

And hainish remained silent.

The education of the poor and minorities won't benefit from the whinings of someone whose feeling got hurt.
Go work in South Central, Southside Chicago, Detroit, North Philly or Southeast DC and come back to us in a year.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 9, 2011 11:20 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe, I've commented here plenty of time, and no I'm not anybody else in drag, as I was able to confirm when I checked the mirror this morning.

About how commenters here respond to each other? I've state my thoughts on that before, too.

I'm sorry, but what is your point? That Rhee did something terrible in the past and I didn't post a comment here about it? Should I post a comment about every terrible thing anyone may have done, ever? Is there a litmus test for my opinion to be deemed genuine by you? And if there is, why in the world would you think I would take that seriously?

As I've said repeatedly, it was not Ed's point of view I was disagreeing with, it was his tactics. You can't seem to separate the two.

You seem to have the mentality that people are either on your side, or they're against you, and there is no room for nuance in that view.

Posted by: hainish | February 10, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The UMBC report/data were discussed in the Washington Times in July 2007. This isn't news or a recent discovery.

And it's hard to believe Jay didn't know about it in real time since it was covered in the rival paper and the Daily Howler was calling out the Post on journalistic negligence on this issue, citing one of Jay's own front page stories in which (according to the Howler) he publicized a similarly bogus test score miracle story without checking the data.

Interestingly, back then Feldman (in a letter to the Times about Emerling's story) suggested regression to the mean (after the disaster that was privatization) as the explanation for the noticeable (but hardly miraculous) uptick in 3rd grade scores that year.

links:
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jun/29/council-checks-rhees-resume/?page=2
http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh070207.shtml
http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh071107.shtml
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jul/3/letters-to-the-editor-27630010/

Posted by: smithhemb | February 10, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

REAL teachers, who have actually been in the classroom more than a few years, KNOW Ms. Rees claims are lies. But, she is photogenic and talks a good line about ACCOUNTABILITY! that people love to hear, without questioning her about it.

She is in Atlanta today, being fawned over by the media, who refuse to call her on her assertations of superior knowledge and skills.

No one, other than Jesus, can change water into wine.

I am a good teacher. My children benefit from being in my class. They make significant gains. But would I lie and claim sole responsibility for these gains?

When will the media quit listening like gullible 6 year olds to folks like her, like Beverly Hall, telling lies and boasting about things that didn't happen?

And I call a BS on "she went by what her principal told her." No. Sorry. Teachers see their scores, and they know what their children can actually do. Only a fool would believe she had a 90/90 after seeing her students in action each day.

Quit giving someone who lies (but looks good doing it) a pass!

Posted by: catlady1 | February 10, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

By the way, could your research folks look into the claims made by Beverly Hall, superintendent at Atlanta Public School, and Erin Hames, the wunderkid, who, with 3 years of teaching experience (and incredible results, supposedly) in NC, now rules the roost with RTTT funds in Georgia?

Posted by: catlady1 | February 10, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

alwayswonderswhy says, "It would be equally as interesting to pull Brandenburg's record as a teacher by cohort [and race]."

Here are a few big differences between him and Rhee:

He hasn't gone around the country touting his fabulous test scores and saying if he can do it, all teachers should do it or they're fired.

He hasn't started a billion dollar foundation based on a lie that his students went from the bottom to the top.

The data he uses is accurate and can be checked.

Posted by: efavorite | February 10, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Jay, let me spell this out for you.

Let's say Michelle taught 35 students, and there were 120 students in the class.

Let's say the researchers at UM excluded half of the class for various unclear reasons.

Since the study was of the school overall, do you see how the study proves nothing? Do you see how it might have excluded all of her students because of whatever anomalies?

Now, let's assume that the UM study included some of Michelle's students on a proportional basis -- say, 1 out of 4. And let's say that the kids not in Michelle's class saw their scores rise from 14% to, say, 30%. And let's say the kids in Michelle's class saw their scores rise to 90%. What would the overall result be? Why, 90% for Michelle's kids, right?

Do you see now why Mr. Brandenburg's report actually doesn't prove anything?

And can you see why this whole episode proves Michelle's point that we need better data about individual teacher effectiveness and value-add?

Posted by: onceformerteacher | February 10, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Diving into the data is important if you're going to use data to attack Michelle.

The 1995 report says on pg 143 that 36 percent of kids at Harlem Park had no reading scores in 1994-95 and 38 percent had no math scores. That’s school-wide, not third grade. No other school in the study was even close to those levels of exclusion – the next highest exclusion rate for reading was 25 and next highest for math was 23. The second and third grade classes were almost certainly higher in terms of exclusion rates, because one would assume a fairly equal number of kids in each grade, but the number of test scores for those grades was far lower. I’d guess less than 50 percent of second and third graders had test scores. For that reason, as OnceFormerTeacher said, it is entirely possible that none of the kids in Michelle’s class are included in the study. That would actually make some sense, because they were trying to study a particular school model, and combined classes like Michelle’s were not part of that model. If you were a researcher, wouldn’t you think about skipping over a classroom that had like 40 kids in it?

Even if that's not the case, the point is that it’s impossible to prove that X percent of Michelle’s kids were above the 90th percentile, just like it is impossible to prove that they weren’t. The data don’t exist.

That's the whole point. The data don't exist. And Michelle is trying to get data, pushing to get data for everyone so that we don't have to have this debate in the future.

Also, remember that Michelle had colleagues. She had a principal. They all back her story, that her kids made huge strides in learning.

Posted by: DCresident31 | February 11, 2011 12:16 AM | Report abuse

DCResidentDCResident31,

The test scores that don't exist could not have been seen by Michelle Rhee, Michele Jacobs, LINDA CARTER, OR Deonna Medley.

Therefore, the scores that exist are the ones Miss Rhee saw and used for the basis of her 13th to 90th claim.

Posted by: edlharris | February 11, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

edlharris - right, unless Rhee is lying about her kids even taking the tests and being told about the test scores and she just made up the numbers from whole cloth.

Posted by: efavorite | February 11, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Here's the thing: best practice in education dictates that teachers constantly (weekly or biweekly depending on the age) monitor their students progress via teacher administered tests (formative assessment) such as running records or guided reading observations. If Michelle Rhee was following these best practices (which were certainly around when she was teaching) she would have known where her students were academically and what gains they were making. So, she was either lax is her use of formative assessment and record keeping or she was promoting classroom successes that she knew could not possibly be true even IF she did not have access to the standardized test data. Either way, she is demonstrating a lack of moral character and as such should not have access to other people's children.

Posted by: reneecn | February 11, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Can't believe even Jay fell for this failure of reasoning. If you all don't believe Hess when he writes about how faulty the analysis is, check my own and why the numbers reported are consistent with Rhee's claim.

http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/12/rhee-invented.html/comment-page-1#comment-217538

Posted by: ChrisSmyr | February 11, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Incredible that anyone would believe that any teacher could get the sort of numbers Rhee claims to have put up. But in the light of the obvious lying she did, that there are folks here willing to twist themselves into logical knots to try to show how it might have happened, rather than go with the far more obvious truth is indicative of how desperate some people are to help write Rhee's hagiography.

Nothing wrong with religious mysticism, of course, except when it comes to handing over billions of dollars and the educational futures of millions of American school children to an obvious huckster like Michelle "Duct Tape" Rhee.

Posted by: mikegold | February 13, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

ChrisSmyr is way off.
His data doesn't confirm Rhee's claim.
He is having trouble supporting it over at Guy's blog, where hi is mainly name calling.

Posted by: edlharris | February 13, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

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