Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has come under fire in the wake of allegations that she exaggerated claims she made about student test score improvement when she was a teacher at a Baltimore city school in the 1990s.
In a blog post last week, former Washington D.C. math teacher G.F. Brandenburg published the results of a study that reviews test scores from Harlem Park Elementary School that contradict Rhee’s claims on the resume that helped her get hired by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Rhee wrote that over a two-year period she “moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.”
Using graphed data, the study shows that, while students at her school made gains they were significantly lower.
It’s a stinging finding, if true, since Rhee has become a prominent pro-testing voice and has advocated using student test scores as a way to weed out bad teachers. (Baltimore recently adopted changes similar to those Rhee pushed for in D.C. Public schools, including a teachers’ contract that pays teachers based on performance and not tenure.)
“I think it’s important for the public to know that the main spokesperson for the movement for additional dumb standardized testing, for teaching to the test, and for firing teachers based on those dumb tests, would herself have been fired under those criteria, ” Brandenburg wrote.
Rhee was quick to issue a response, saying that the data Brandenburg used was from the entire school and not just for Rhee’s class, and was therefore an ineffective measure of her performance. (Brandenburg responded by pointing out that Rhee herself had claimed to team teach both third grade classes that were evaluated in the study.)
In another response to Brandenburg’s charges, Rhee says her Harlem Park claims were based on reports from her principal at the time, Linda Carter, and that she had never seen the actual data. Carter has since left the Baltimore City school system, and attempts to contact her were unsuccessful, reported The Washington Post.
“All I can go off of is what my principal told me,” Rhee said to The Post. She also said that, if she could do it over again, she would have described her accomplishments differently.