The Priorities of DC Public Schools

Posted on February 16, 2012


Much has been written about the investigations into cheating in DC public schools. While the investigations are ongoing, the evidence suggests either cheating or some massive teaching to the test efforts. Neither cheating nor teaching to the test benefits children in any way. In his 2008 book entitled “Measuring Up: What Do Test Scores Really Tell Us?,” Koretz–a leading expert in testing–makes very clear that teaching to the test causes score inflation and limits rather than enhances students’ learning. Other testing experts concur with Koretz on this conclusion.

With respect to outright cheating and fraud, there is a clear ethical line–it is wrong. There is never any excuse.

In this case, the principal instigated a test prep plan in which teachers were told to instruct students on reading and math during science, social studies, and even music classes. The students were denied the opportunity to learn the material in these other classes. Unbelievably, the principal forced the teachers to submit grades for students in science and social studies even though the students never took science and social studies.  In Dallas, a principal engaged in massive teaching to the test, lied to parents about it, and stole the opportunity to learn science and social studies from a group of students at her school. It is truly a bizarre and unbelievable story.–field-elementary-in-dallas.ece

This was a clear ethical violation and Dallas ISD acted appropriately to remove her from her position.


Yet, even though Washington DC administrators were well aware of the facts of the case, they have decided that such a principal possesses the characteristics and qualities they are looking for in a school leader.

Maybe the district administrators view the principal’s efforts as a “No Excuses” effort to ensure students learned how to read and pass the standardized tests.

“Don’t let state and district requirements about what is taught be an excuse for not focusing narrowly on reading and math–it is for the kids!”

“Don’t let parental expectations about what their kids are learning in school stand in the way of raising test scores. Lie to the parents. Don;t let their expectations become an excuse for not raising test scores!”

I guess we have seen the true values and beliefs of those running the DC public school system.

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