StudentsFirst, the organization created by Michelle Rhee to promote her ideas about fixing schools by high-stakes testing and choice, has issued its second state-by-state report card.
The highest scoring states are not those whose students have the highest achievement on NAEP; that would be Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
No, the highest scoring states are those that do what Rhee did in D.C., the nation’s lowest-scoring district on NAEP.
She awards points for “elevating the teaching profession,” which means tying evaluations of teachers and principals to test scores, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating collective bargaining, awarding bonuses to teachers whose students get higher test scores, and opening teaching jobs to teachers who have no certification or other credentials. In other words, the way to “elevate the teaching profession” is to make teachers into temporary workers whose job depends on the test scores of their students and to lower standards for entry into teaching. I wish that whoever defined this category would read the research on value-added methodology (VAM), like here and here. Tying teacher and principal evaluations leads to narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, and CHEATING.
She awards points for “empowering parents,” which means that a state gets higher scores if it offers charters and vouchers and has a parent trigger so that parents can hand their public school over to a charter corporation. Of course, the report offers no research to support these recommendations since voucher schools do not outperform neighborhood public schools-their advocates, nor do charters, on average. Some charters get higher test scores, because they enroll motivated students who apply. Others get high scores because they exclude students with disabilities and English learners. But on average, there is not much difference in outcomes between public schools and charter schools. The “parent trigger” has thus far–in its four years as state law in California–converted one public school to charter status and fired one principal.
Her third priority–spending wisely and well–promotes governance by the state and mayoral control. In other words, states get a plus if they override or preferably abolish local school boards.
The highest scoring states: Louisiana: #1; Florida (#2); Indiana (#3); Rhode Island (#4); D.C. (#5).
How did the highest performing states in the nation do on the StudentsFirst report card:
Massachusetts: (first in nation on NAEP): D (#21 on Rhee’s report card);
New Jersey: (tied for second place in the nation on NAEP): D (#31 on Rhee’s report card);
Connecticut (tied for second in the nation on NAEP): D+ (#24 on Rhee’s report card).
It is ironic that an organization that wants states to rank teachers, students, and schools in relation to student test scores issues a report card that evaluates states without any reference to student test scores.
Clearly, the rankings have nothing whatever to do with any academic outcomes for students. These are the states that comes closest to complying with Michelle Rhee’s ideological preferences: privatization and dismantling the teaching profession.