Is Michelle Rhee About to Take a Lance Armstrong Like Fall From Grace?

On Tuesday America will find out if Michelle Rhee’s DC miracle was a fraud. From Washington Post reporter Emma Brown:

Student standardized-test scores at an award-winning D.C. school dropped dramatically in 2011 after the principal tightened security out of concern about possible cheating, according to a new “Frontline” television documentary to be broadcast Tuesday.

The hour-long program raises questions about whether District officials have adequately investigated persistent suspicions that public school employees may have tampered with tests during the tenure of former schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

Adell Cothorne was principal of the District’s Noyes Education Campus for one year, in 2010-11. She told “Frontline” that just after students took a midyear practice version of the city’s annual standardized test, she stumbled upon three staff members sitting late at night in a room strewn with more than 200 test booklets.

One of the adults was at a desk, holding an eraser. The other two sat at a table, booklets open before them.

“One staff member said to me, in a lighthearted sort of way, ‘Oh, principal, I can’t believe this kid drew a spider on the test and I have to erase it,’ ” Cothorne told filmmakers, offering the first such direct testimony about potential tampering with answer sheets in D.C. schools.

Cothorne told “Frontline” that she reported the incident to the central office, but to her knowledge nothing was done. School system officials said Friday that without having seen the documentary, they could not comment on Cothorne’s allegations.

Another report is forthcoming from Arne Duncan’s DOE and it could turn out that the worse part has been the cover-up. The implications for Florida are far-reaching as Rhee co-chaired then governor-elect Rick Scott’s transition team. It was Rhee’s DC IMPACT model which was the template for Florida’s state-wide teacher evaluation system, SB 736. To discredit Rhee in this manner where her test scores are found to be fraudulent will embarrass Scott and the republican legislators who walked her system through. Moreover, those who have chosen to hook up her wagon will rightfully have their wisdom and judgment scrutinized.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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6 Responses to Is Michelle Rhee About to Take a Lance Armstrong Like Fall From Grace?

  1. Jupiter Mom says:

    Somehow I think that Gov Scott will not be too worried about Ms. Rhee’s problems. Claims can be made that somehow these teachers “went rogue” and were incompetent. Blame the teachers is a favorite tactic of our “reformers”.

    • Bob Sikes says:

      They won’t have control of the narrative. The pendulum began to swing back toward teachers last year. Scott problems on education policy are cumulative and will be a slow, but steady drag on his popularity.

  2. What makes you think an investigation led by Duncan’s DOE will be impartial and thorough? I am very skeptical.

  3. Diane Kepus says:

    Michelle should have known that wouldn’t work once she left her post in DC. Arne Duncan had already done that in Chicago before he left. The folks behind him found he had fudged the numbers big time of which I would be willing to bet most of these “perfect” Jeb Bush Charter schools – like the ones under Charter Schools USA and Academica would be found to have done the same.
    Couldn’t happen to a nicer lady than maybe Patricia Levesque, Pelosi, Clinton and my real favorite Sebelius! Women you cannot be proud of!

    Most people that are that far into themselves usually do fall of the ladder! They all slip up eventually!

  4. Watched this episode last night. My fear was what happens to the tests once a teacher turns them in to the testing coordinator. As a former employee of a Charter School company, I was always surprised by our “grades.” They often seemed very inflated. But maybe I am just skeptical of how we could raise scores with the constantly changing staff and administrators.

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