Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DC School Reform: "Miraculous" Success or Miserable Failure

Yesterday, in a Post Op-ed, former Post Publisher Donald Graham challenged elected officials and candidates for mayor not to look under the hood of DC school reform but to stay the course with Kaya Henderson, the miracle worker chancellor who has raised student test scores. But candidate for mayor Andy Shallal looked under the hood ten days earlier in a February 14 White Paper on Education where he documents the failure of DC school reform and outlines a different path he would take as mayor. Its the first detailed critique of school reform and articulation of an alternative approach to see the light of day in six years. At issue is how to interpret DC's NAEP score record. Where Graham declares rising average scores a success, Shallal points out that all the improvement is for white and wealthier students and can be credited to changing demographics. The city's poor and African American students, in whose name reform was justified, have seen little to no improvement. The charts and statistics in Shallal's analysis shed new light on the record of "reform." In a follow-up Op-Ed responding to Graham's piece, DC Councilman David Catania took Graham to task on the NAEP score data and the need for Council oversight of DCPS, but Catania curiously reached the opposite conclusion: more of the same reform, faster. He must be running for mayor. But then Valerie Strauss finally got it right when she published on March 12 Mary Levy's 7 charts from the Shallal analysis for the world to see here. Who will hold these politicians and their chancellors accountable?