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Michelle Rhee's been lying for years... A closer look at her Baltimore 'miracle'

It's only a coincidence that Michelle Rhee claimed a kind of 'miracle' in her performance during her latter years of teaching through Teach for American in Baltimore's public schools that those were the same years that the ideas for 'The Wire' were germinating in the minds of some reporters, cops, and teachers. But the following, from one of our favorite blogs, shows that Michelle Rhee is as adept at what "The Wire" calls "juking the stats" as any of the politicians, police officials, or educators depicted fictionally in "The Wire." Even though "The Wire" doesn't have a Michelle Rhee character, there are several who come close, both in the schools segment (Year Four) and in the hilarious rendition of COMSTAT ("Performance Management," Baltimore style). Anyway, it's always nice to have someone revisit claims of greatness from the latest corporate frauds, and Michelle Rhee is certainly at the top of that list. We're leaving out the graphs for now. Sorry, but it's a technical issue...

Here is from our friends at:

I have a puzzle for you: Can You Spot the Baltimore-Rhee Miracle of 1993-1995? Is Michelle Rhee a liar, or is she honest? You decide.

You remember that Michelle Rhee said that when she taught for three years in Baltimore, after a bit of a rough spot during her first year, she brought her students from the very bottom to the very top, right? If that’s true, then it should be really easy to spot those scores, especially since there were exactly TWO third-grade classes at her Baltimore school during her final year, and she says that she team-taught with the other second-grade, later third-grade, teacher during those last two years. (Or maybe there were two teachers in her class — I can’t tell from her account.) But no matter. A jump that large should be really, really obvious.

In last month’s Washingtonian Magazine, she told an interviewer:

“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.

“What changed?

“What we were doing with them in school.”

And as I pointed out in my previous post, her official resume says

“Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90% of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.“

Here comes the puzzle.

I looked up the CTBS reading scores for nine different schools in Baltimore for the period 1992 through 1995. I converted all of the CTBS NCE reading scores in the second grade for 1992, 1993, and 1994, and for the third grade in 1995 into percentile ranks, because that is the measurement that Rhee refers to. The CTBS is, as far as I can tell, the only nationally-standardized test that was given in Baltimore. The MSPAP, which was also given during at least some of those years, is a Maryland state-wide test, and so far, I haven’t found scores on the MSPAP for 1995.

Here are the graphs showing the CTBS reading scores in nine different schools (or clusters of schools) during the years Michelle Rhee claims to have worked her miracle. I included all of the seven Tesseract/EAI schools, including Harlem Park where Rhee taught, and I also included some of the regular public schools that were officially designated as comparison schools in the study that was supposed to figure out whether Edison was doing a good job or not.

I will NOT tell you which graph is Harlem Park. It’s your job to figure out which one it was.

Hint: Rhee was still in college for SY 1992. She worked at Harlem Park for SY 1993, 1994, and 1995. She taught second grade for the first two years, and then apparently followed the students into the third grade for SY 1995.

Let’s look at the graphs:



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