Michelle Rhee’s legacy

Dr. O’Neil provides important comparisons between the Atlanta cheating scandal and the cheating scandal in Washington, D.C. under Michelle Rhee. The difference was the scandal in D.C. was buried.


Lately, as background research for my book, I’ve been looking into the 2008 cheating scandal associated with Michelle Rhee’s high stakes Value-Added Model regime in the D.C. area,

Specifically, I’m talking about the high erasure rates associated to certain standardized tests that had cash bonuses attached to large improvements, and the consequential investigation that was smothered.

Let me break it down. Certain high poverty schools weren’t doing so well. Michelle Rhee came in as chancellor and suggested that the teachers and principals simply needed some more incentives to achieve better student learning. Her theories got boosted by various academics. Teachers would get $8,000 for really great scores, and principals $10,000.

In addition to Rhee giving certain teachers bonuses, she fired hundreds of others, sometimes for bad scores, sometimes without explaining why.

Against this backdrop, you might not be surprised to hear, there was widespread cheating, or at least…

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