I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, January 21, 2013

National Research Council Should Investigate DC Cheating

Last we checked in on Michelle Rhee, she had lawyered up in response to a request for documents related to the Washington, D.C. cheating scandal that unfolded on her watch. This request came from journalist John Merrow, who has conjectured that Rhee is in possession of a memo that shows, contrary to her claims, that she was well-aware of the potential for widespread cheating across the district.

At this point, it's quite clear that the cheating scandal has not been thoroughly investigated. But here's an interesting twist: there is already a national group charged with evaluating the progress of Washington D.C.'s schools, the National Research Council.
The committee on the Independent Evaluation of DC Public Schools issued its report, A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia’s Public Schools, in 2011.   ► More information about the report

The report outlined the structure for an ongoing program of independent and objective evaluation, and recommended that the city establish a research consortium to carry it out. Since 2011, the NRC has worked with the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University (GWU) and a group of local experts in research and evaluation to establish the DC Education Consortium on Research and Evaluation (DC-EdCORE). The new consortium will work closely with the NRC's new panel, the Committee for the DC Education Consortium on Research and Evaluation (DC-EdCORE), to carry out a two-year program of data analysis that will provide valuable information to the city about the progress of key efforts begun under PERAA.

The committee will:

• provide advice to the consortium,
• hold public meetings to discuss the annual reports and hear from community members about their questions and concerns, and
issue a five-year evaluation report that will bring together the work of DC-EdCORE and other researchers and the input received during the NRC public meetings, to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the District’s experience with PERAA. [emphasis mine]
The National Research Council, a quasi-governmental agency, has been charged with evaluating D.C.'s schools. But information has come out that calls into question the validity of the standardized test results that will be used for that evaluation. There is simply no way the NRC can produce a credible report without vetting the collection of the data they will use to make their evaluation.

Again, it's clear: the cheating scandal was not thoroughly investigated, which means it is impossible for the NRC to do its job. So the next step is obvious:

The National Research Council must demand a comprehensive investigation of the D.C. cheating scandal, starting with the release of all relevant documents. That includes the memo Merrow references and ALL communications produced by Rhee and current chancellor Kaya Henderson related to the cheating allegations.

The NRC cannot do its job if there is any doubt that the test scores in D.C. have been corrupted. They have an ethical obligation to ensure that the data is valid. They must investigate whether there was widespread cheating under Rhee and Henderson; it's really that simple.

In the next few days, we'll talk about how to make this happen.

The National Research Council had better behave themselves...

No comments: