Retest D.C. Classes That Had Dubious Exam Results in '08
It appears that there is a cheating scandal on standardized tests in the Washington DC Public Schools as is the case presently in the Atlanta Public Schools and the Dekalb County Public Schools.
This post is not about the cheating in the public schools, however. Instead it is an opportunity to fortify my observations and indictment upon Black Democratic operatives that can be found on the radio. My belief is that these sold out operatives only act when there is a political or ideological advantage to be had.
I have Bev Smith firmly in mind when I think back to the "Houston Miracle". This was the test and attendance record scandal in Houston Texas that allowed this urban school system to appear to have made a miraculous turn around due to certain policies that eventually made their way into the "No Child Left Behind" legislation.
The target of Bev Smith, the local line up of talk show hosts on Atlanta's WAOK and a good portion of the well known nationally syndicated Black talk show hosts was the Bush Administration and their attempts at educational reform which focused upon standardized testing and accountability for the school teachers.
If they could discredit the Education Secretary at the time Dr Rod Paige (a Black man by the way) then they could draw blood against the Bush Administration. Today as we hear feigned outrage over "wanting the president to fail" it astounds me how some people can be so duplicitous in their actions. They were working to insure failure for a long while so they should know the impact of a constant negative drum beat upon the masses.
Standardized Test Cheating In Atlanta and Dekalb
I have been recording these broadcasts for a long while on my computer for periodic monitoring. In as much as these operatives used the "cheating" in Houston to make their case against their ideological adversaries they are just as inclined to make use of the recent cheating scandals in Atlanta and Dekalb - but not for the same purposes.
In Atlanta and Dekalb the situation is different. These are two majority Black school systems and majority Black schools under investigation for altering answers on standardized tests. This time there is a state Republican administration that is enforcing disciplinary action against these Black run school systems in the name of the enforcement of standards of integrity.
The same people who were once willing to use the cheating in Houston (also a majority minority school system) to bludgeon their adversaries will instead use the focus upon this cheating to accuse the state Republicans for attempting undercut the Black Administrators of these schools.
Dekalb County Schools have not challenged the results of the state's findings and the principal and assistant principal have lost their teaching license for 2 years and one year respectively.
Atlanta, however, hired their own independent investigator. She found that while there were some policy violations (ie: A substitute teacher was allowed to administer the tests when only permanent staff is allowed to), they rejected the claims that the staff had altered the answers on the multiple choice tests. Their argument was that there was little personal economic loss to be had by these individual teachers/administrators if the school did in fact not meet Adequate Yearly Progress. I was personally puzzled as to why the report attempted to establish an M.O. rather than simply focus upon the evidence that the test had been altered.
Needless to say - the "Atlanta Miracle" or the "DC Miracle" (that I just learned about) will not be used to undercut "No Child Left Behind" right now. There is a favorable president in office to these operatives. Their goal is to support his efforts rather than stick their fingers in his eye. Even if the administration uses the exact same framework that was previously found detestable - these operatives will not run the same attacks that they did just a few short years ago.
My colleague Bill Turque's energetic coverage of suspicious erasures on D.C. school standardized tests in 2008 reminds me of my attempt many years ago to delve into the only classroom cheating scandal ever to become a major motion picture.
This happened at Garfield High in East Los Angeles in 1982. Fourteen students at that impoverished neighborhood school were suspected of cheating on an Advanced Placement calculus exam. Twelve of them took the test again and passed. Six years later, the film "Stand and Deliver," with Garfield math teacher Jaime Escalante played by Edward James Olmos, turned the incident into a legend and boosted a national effort to bring challenging courses to low-income schools.
The film left the cheating question up in the air. But a book I wrote about Escalante showed that at least nine students were involved in copying an answer for one question on the first test and then proved in the retest that they knew their subject and that our academic expectations for inner-city children were much too low.
Despite Turque's good work, I fear we will never have the same certainty about the irregularities on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS) tests. Thirty-four students in a class at Bowen Elementary School in Southwest Washington averaged more than 10 wrong-to-right erasures on the exam, five times the citywide average. Similarly questionable results turned up in some other schools. But the CTB/McGraw-Hill expert who reported this recommended that we "not draw conclusions about cheating."
We are left with unresolved doubts and disagreements, poisoning attitudes toward school improvement without answering the key question: Did our kids learn the subject matter, or not?