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Janey says 'footprint' is still fresh

When Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee met with reporters last week to tout the District's improved math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) , she did it with a nod to her predecessor, Clifford Janey. It was under Janey, who was dismissed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty after Fenty took control of the public school system in 2007, that the six year rise in NAEP scores began.

In Janey's view, the shout-out wasn't necessary.

"The Janey footprint is there and it needs no excavation to be seen," he said in a phone interview last week from his office in Newark, N.J., where he has served as superintendent of schools since mid-2008. "Those in-the-know, know. I don't need affirmation to know we made some incredible acts of transformation in Washington D.C. over a short period of time that is evidenced now much more publicly through the NAEP."

Janey said that one of his first tasks after he came to the District in 2004 was to find a new standardized test to replace the Stanford 9, which he said lacked rigor.

"The first thing I did in he first month of my tenure was organize a group of teachers, administrators and community advocates and members of the business community," Janey said. "I tasked them to research the very best content standards and curriculum frameworks at the state level and to see who was making faster improvement on the NAEP."

One of the three states the group recommended was Massachusetts. Janey chose that state's standardized test, the MCAS, as a model because it was more challenging than the mostly multiple choice Stanford 9, requiring short written answers.

"I chose Massachusetts because not only were the curriculum standards aligned to the NAEP, but the state assessment [the MCAS] was as well," he said. It led to the development of the DC-CAS.

Janey called it "the fundamental dirtywork of reformation."

He's got plenty of dirty work to do in Newark, where the 40,000-student system has been under state control since 1995. Should the state eventually return control to the local level, Janey could face the same situation that led to his demise in D.C. : a mayor (Cory Booker) intent on leveraging more control over the system.

In the meantime, he's drawn praise for reaching out to parents, students and teachers' union leaders. He said he is working on a plan that would put extra money in the budgets of successful schools in exchange for coupling with low-performing schools to help to raise achievement through teacher mentoring and other ventures.

Janey said still keeps a home in the District's Embassy Row neighborhood, not because of any longing to return to D.C., but as "an investment."

--Bill Turque

For all the Post's Education coverage, please see

By Washington Post editors  |  December 14, 2009; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque,Education  
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"draw[ing] praise for reaching out to parents, students and teachers' union leaders"

Bah, Humbug! Here in DC, we don't believe in collaboration and cooperation anymore.

But do hold on to your DC real estate - things could change with the Mayoral election next September.

Posted by: efavorite | December 14, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Cliff Janey is a great educator, but not a particularly skilled politcian. Michelle Rhee has demonstrated that she is neither, but benefits from a tone deaf political patron as mayor.

Posted by: contrarian4 | December 14, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Janey was a blessing, we now are finding out. His successor, unfortunately, lacks his class, substance, and depth of knowledge.

All the best to him in Newark!

Posted by: vscribe | December 14, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Why is this story buried in The Wire? Why can't the Post give Janey full credit where it's due. Rhee might have given him a passing comment, but he is the real reason the test scores have been rising.

When am I going to open the paper (or log on) and learn that Rhee is finally leaving? She has caused so much turmoil here. Time for her to head to Sacramento with her touchy-feeley finacee.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 14, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

As a DCPS teacher, I always liked Janey and welcomed his reforms. He also had an ability to work with all stakeholders and keep his ego in check. Things which Michelle Rhee has been a disaster at. I was sorry to see him go. I wish we had him back. Michelle Rhee has done nothing but make a bigger mess of things. I can't wait til Nov. '10 when we vote Fenty out and Rhee is sent packing.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | December 14, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Janey may have been a much better superintendent for many reasons, but it's looking like no one, really, neither Rhee, nor Janey nor the teachers, can take much credit for improvements in student achievement. A deeper look at the NAEP math scores, as Turque provided in Sunday's article, shows little or flat growth among the majority black population in DCPS. The few white kids in the system are already performing at the top of the heap nationally.

Posted by: efavorite | December 14, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

At least Janey did something tangible with the "system" in establishing a curriculum and in getting a better test designed. Rhee has done nothing but tear people down.

You're right, Efavorite, that neither Janey nor Rhee can take much credit for improvements in "achievement" (improved test scores). And neither one of them could or can fix all that needs to be fixed in order to help the majority of DCPS students---that would require much more than what happens inside the school walls. What one person deserves "credit" for, though, is demoralizing a workforce and alienating those who should be the top priority in terms of partnering with the schools---the parents. That person is Rhee.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 15, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

dccitizen1 - You're absolutely right. I'm copying your post and will repeat your thoughts on what Rhee deserves credit for every chance I get.


Posted by: efavorite | December 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite, you and I are on the same page! I also wanted to thank you for the "That's Right Nate" link. The guy knows what's going on alright. I just wish the WaPo was a responsible journal wrt Rhee and Fenty.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 15, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

No People, we are overlooking the better picture of his role if he comes back. Let's draft him to be the State Superintendent of Education for DC. (OSSE) He clearly has more experience than a Kerri Briggs...who is she: the current state superintendent for DC (OSSE). By the way, only a Fenty would give the nod for a former Bush Asst. Superintendent with the Dept of Ed. to oversee Rhee and speak to education policy and direction; what has the Bush admn. ever done to benefit education. Exactly! Yet when you look at the front office of OSSE it smells of incompetence and confusion and reflects the watered down judgement of the current idiot as Mayor - I digress. I do wonder what gains would have occured with DC students if Janey had the resources and tenure as Rhee. If his footprint started this small advancement, with just small changes, given the time he was in DC; just imagine what could have happened if he had not only a fresh footprint but boots on the ground...look, obviously Janey is not a savior of DCPS but I would take an experienced person in a Janey over a Teach for America pipe dream. Let's move away from the word "reform" and replace it with "COMPETENCE"; this word is measurable and tangible; you can see it and know it's benefits. This word reform is a play on words which measures nothing. Let's keep the pressure and the scrutiny on this irresponsible Mayor and whatever he rolls out, suggest or signs off on. If this Mayor thinks that he has any chance of getting re-elected, I know where Santa Claus lives in the North Pole...but as always some people just don't see it. Bow out and leave with what respect you still have Fenty...the alarm clock is going off and you can't keep punching snoooze...just hang it up and keep it moving.

Posted by: theyhateme | December 16, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Janey is a very innovative and experienced school leader-with experience as a successful teacher, principal and administrator. He's worked his way up and has gained the knowlege needed to run a school system that only someone who's REALLY ever run a classroom or a school can have. Sorry, you just can't get that kind of experience by GOING to school, even an ivy league one. It's a crying shame that we didn't keep him in order to tap into his wealth of knowlege and expertise. I like what I hear about what he's doing in Newark. Partnering schools for mentors and ideas-awesome. Reaching out to parents and community members, for real dialogue. Wow. Too bad we only go through the motions here. We let a good man go far too soon.

Posted by: citymom92 | December 16, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

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