'Miracle' school in Texas raised test scores by teaching only 'reading' and 'math'

A massive report by the Dallas school district revealed by the Dallas Morning News has debunked another "Texas Miracle," this one involving one elementary school in the Dallas district. Add it to your Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, and Chicago list of liars, cheats and thieves in the corporate school reform business.

Thanks to Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test for forwarding the following Associated Press report from November 19, 2011. REPORT: STUDENTS LEARNED ONLY MATH, READING Associated Press -- November 19, 2011

Dallas -- Third-graders at a Dallas elementary received stellar math and reading scores on a state standardized test, but school district investigators say they missed nearly a year of instruction in some other subjects.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Field Elementary received an "exemplary" ranking.

Students, however, learned only math and reading for most of the school year. Third-graders take math and reading portions of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Principal Roslyn Carter is on paid administrative leave after the public school district found numerous cases of falsified grades during the 2010-11 school year. Carter denied many of the allegations and said she was not aware of some rules concerning grading.

A 227-page school district report was obtained by the newspaper under opens records law.


Good points, as always, Page

A follow-up story by FOX Dallas did include the teacher union

perspective, of course in a story with a typically FOX headline and spin:


Fox 4 Dallas -- November 19, 2011

By Dionne Anglin

Dallas, TX -- The controversy involves students at Tom Field Elementary

receiving fabricated grades for courses they alledgedly were never

taught so teachers, who were being pressured, could spend all their time

teaching kids, like former student Larry Granger, the TAKS test subjects

of math and reading.

A published report uncovered the 2010 DISD investigation and details how

the current principal supposedly directed teachers to skip teaching

science, social studies and music and, in numerous cases, to conjure up

grades as if the students earned them.

A district spokesman says DISD did indeed conduct a probe into

allegations at the school and, as a result, the appropriate personnel

action has been taken.

"It is probably the most insane thing we've seen in a long, long time in

education," said Rena Honea, President of Alliance/American Federation

of Teachers.

The union, Alliance AFT Local 2260, represents some teachers who work at

Field Elementary. Its president, Rena Honea, says the union knew nothing

about a district investigation, but has often heard complaints from the

classroom instructors there.

"What were teachers frustrations there? Being told what to do, how to do

it, whether they agreed with it or not, that it was an absolute

atmosphere of fear and intimidation, being threatened. If you don't do

this you could lose your job," Honea said.

As for Larry Granger, who's now in middle school, his mom says she

strongly believes he was affected by the alleged scandal.

"This is why my son isn't doing good in science. You really feel like

that? I know this for a fact, because when he left Tom Field and went to

Pancho Medrano, they said he was behind," said Michelle Granger.

The published report indicated the principal of Field Elementary is now

on paid leave followng the investigation.

DISD would not confirm that, only saying appropriate personnel action

has been taken.

On 11/21/2011 3:08 PM, Page McCullough wrote:


> I just have to wonder (if the teachers are in a union--which they

> might not be) where were the teachers all year? or is it two years?

> it is so disheartening to realize that teachers don't seem to

> understand the power their collective action would have. Even if

> they were not in a union, a one day sick out would send a shock wave

> and trigger an investigation.


> On Nov 21, 2011, at 1:09 PM, Bob Schaeffer wrote:


>> A much more detailed story on the Dallas elementary school scandal

>> moved on the McClatchy -Tribune wire this morning. Note, especially,

>> the detailed official investigation report in the hyperlink




>> McClatchy-Tribune News Service

>> By Tawnell D. Hobbs, /The Dallas Morning News/


>> Third-graders at Field Elementary School in Dallas helped propel

>> their school to "exemplary" status, but unbeknownst to their parents

>> those stellar math and reading scores came at a cost.


>> The students learned only math and reading for most of the school

>> year, while teachers were pressured to fabricate grades for science,

>> social studies and enrichment courses like music. Some of the grades

>> were given by teachers who had never taught the subjects.


>> Field Elementary principal Roslyn Carter is on paid administrative

>> leave after Dallas Independent School District investigators found

>> numerous cases of falsified grades at the campus during the 2010-11

>> school year.


>> Parents, however, were never told about the phony grades and that

>> their children missed nearly a whole school year of instruction in

>> some subjects.


>> A 227-page DISD report

>> , dated July 14,

>> includes investigators' findings, affidavits from employees and

>> e-mails between Carter and staff members. DISD's Office of

>> Professional Responsibility began investigating after receiving an

>> anonymous tip in January.


>> The report details a principal's determination to have her students

>> pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Third-graders take

>> the math and reading portions of the test.


>> According to the report, Carter "directed and caused false school

>> records to be created relating to teachers of record, grades of

>> students for subjects not taught, and grades from teachers for

>> students they did not teach."


>> Carter, who came to Field in the 2008-09 school year, could not be

>> reached for comment but denied many of the allegations in her

>> response to investigators. She told investigators that she was not

>> aware of some rules concerning grading.


>> Some parents learned about the fake grading this week from /The

>> Dallas Morning News/, which requested the report under open records law.


>> Parent Rosie Miller, whose son was in third grade last year at Field,

>> gasped when she learned her son had received fake grades and then

>> paused as she began to understand the implications. She said Carter's

>> obsession with testing prompted her to move out of DISD and enroll

>> her child in the Mansfield school district this year.


>> "It was an extreme focus, but not in a way that would be beneficial,"

>> Miller said. "I got called in and asked, 'Why aren't you pushing him

>> more at home?' She made me feel like I was a horrible parent. It was

>> all about the scores, the scores, the scores."


>> Miller said her son is struggling to pass fourth-grade science and

>> social studies. She wondered if the district is obligated to help her

>> child.


>> DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander said not much can be done now other than

>> to provide academic help to the students. "The school is providing

>> remediation to students to fill in any gaps in those subjects," he said.


>> As far as helping students no longer in DISD, Dahlander said, "We'll

>> obviously need to look into that."


>> After being questioned by /The News/ about how the case has been

>> handled, Dahlander said parents will be officially notified of the

>> matter and administrators will discuss it further in the next couple

>> of days.




>> Dahlander would not discuss any disciplinary action but said

>> "personnel action has been taken." Carter is on paid leave, usually a

>> sign that an employee found to have committed wrongdoing is appealing

>> a termination with the state.


>> Ten employees, mostly teachers, were cited in the report for failing

>> to report actions that aided in the creation of false student

>> records. DISD data shows at least eight of them were still at Field

>> in October.


>> According to the report, some teachers described Carter as being

>> threatening to those who didn't go along with her plans. She denied

>> the allegations.


>> E-mails from Carter, which were included in the report, show she was

>> a principal determined to improve test scores. In one e-mail to her

>> staff, she took offense with someone complaining about long meetings

>> and made reference to the documentary Waiting for Superman, which

>> highlights struggles in urban public schools.


>> "There is no superman coming to save these kids (yes, I saw the movie

>> and so should you)," she wrote. "We are their heroes and heroes don't

>> complain about the time and effort that it takes. Heroes just do what

>> they need to do. Period."


>> Under Carter's tenure, Field Elementary received the state's highest

>> rating, exemplary, for the last two years. State ratings are based in

>> part on TAKS results.


>> Other findings in the report include that Carter:


>> • Discouraged teachers from reporting potential district policy

>> violations to the Office of Professional Responsibility.


>> • Directed that the approved curriculum for science and social

>> studies not be taught as to allow more time for teaching math and

>> reading.


>> • Required a teacher to use his planning period to tutor students in

>> math.


>> • Ignored the district's grading scale and used her own.


>> • Had the music teacher teach math instead of music.


>> • Directed teachers to share their computer passwords for student

>> records with other teachers.




>> The allegations mainly pertained to problems in third grade but also

>> touched on other grade levels. "I do not know of science being taught

>> in 3rd or 4th grade," school counselor Laura McMillin said in an

>> e-mail to an investigator. "And I am unaware of social studies being

>> taught at all."


>> A music teacher told investigators that for most of the school year

>> she tutored third-graders in math instead of teaching them music. She

>> said she gave students factual music grades the first six weeks of

>> school. "After that, I gave them all 95 since I never got to see them

>> in music again," she said in an affidavit.


>> Another teacher, assigned to third-grade science and math, spent most

>> of the year teaching just math. Carter denied his request to teach

>> science for 10 minutes twice a week and to teach social studies for

>> 10 minutes once a week, according to an e-mail in the report.


>> She told the teacher he "has to stick with math" and that students

>> would pick up science skills through their lessons about creating

>> graphs and interpreting graphs. "There is much work to be done in

>> reading and math and these two subjects have to be the focus," Carter

>> wrote.


>> The teacher eventually got to teach science after TAKS testing—about

>> three weeks before the school year was over.


>> In an affidavit, Carter acknowledged making third- and-fifth grade

>> students who were failing certain classes go to tutoring instead of

>> "specials," which are enrichment classes such as art and physical

>> education that are required by state law.


>> A math instructional coach and administrator of GradeSpeed, an

>> electronic grade book, said in an affidavit that 90 percent of

>> third-graders did not attend specials because of TAKS tutoring, but

>> they received grades for each course for the entire school year.


>> "These same students have not been taught science and, until

>> recently, did not receive instruction in social studies. Again, these

>> students have all received grades in both of these content areas,"

>> she stated.


>> She told investigators that she had warned teachers that entering

>> false grades was "unethical and illegal." She said the teachers'

>> overwhelming response was that their hands were tied because Carter

>> wanted it.


>> According to the report, Carter also had two third-grade teachers

>> delete social studies grades and gave the responsibility of entering

>> the grades to two other teachers, though they hadn't taught the

>> subject. Carter told the teachers they could count the nonfiction

>> portion of reading assignments for social studies grades, the report

>> said.


>> Despite learning this week that his daughter didn't receive lessons

>> in some subjects, parent Pedro Reyes said his daughter performed well

>> under Carter's direction. "My opinion was that she (the principal)

>> was balanced," he said. "Maybe there was a little emphasis on math."


>> Audrey Beardsley, an associate professor at Arizona State University

>> who has conducted extensive research on educator-led cheating, said,

>> however, that what occurred at Field is a form of cheating, albeit on

>> a lower level than an educator changing answers on a test.


>> "This is kind of second-degree cheating," she said, "a narrowing of

>> the curriculum to marginalize subjects that don't count."






> Page McCullough

> Rural School and Community Trust

> Durham, NC






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