Remember back to the spring of 2010, when the district superintendent Frances Gallo in Central Falls, Rhode Island, threatened to close the high school and fire the entire staff because performance was so poor? Gallo was vigorously supported by State Superintendent Deborah Gist, and the threat of mass firings won the praise of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama.
Eventually an agreement was worked out with the teachers’ union, large numbers of staff left, and the tumult died down.
Now we learn that Central Falls High School has a much higher graduation rate, but teachers are saying–anonymously and off the record–that the graduation rate is phony. Students who were persistently absent graduated. Teachers say that students got quick and easy credits by credit recovery, by sitting in a front of a computer for a couple of days and answering multiple-choice questions. Similar questions have been raised about the graduation rate from middle school to high school.
But Gallo and Gist say they trust the higher graduation rate.
Here’s the deal: The data are closely scrutinized and criticized when they want to close your school. But when the reformers take over, the data are taken at face value.