Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here's the problem with 'data-driven" school reform. You need good data.

Rahm projected an 82% graduation rate when he ran for office.
“No one questions the facts: more CPS students are graduating than ever before, those students are more prepared for their futures and we’re making huge strides in helping struggling kids graduate."
-- Rahm Emanuel
With all due respect, Mr. Mayor, some folks are questioning the your facts.

Becky Vevea/WBEZ and Sarah Karp/BGA certainly are:
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been talking proudly about something that is really a bit of a miracle: Even during a time of tight budgets and leadership chaos, Chicago Public Schools graduation rates have climbed to a record 69.4 percent. But new data obtained by WBEZ and the Better Government Association shows that number is wrong.
CPS records recently obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act show at least 2,200 students from 25 Chicago high schools were counted as having transferred out of the district between 2011 and 2014. In reality, they were dropouts. The transfers aren’t factored into CPS graduation rates, while dropouts are. (Emanuel touts bogus graduation rate)
Cooked books. No problem. 
The worst part of this is that Rahm and CPS officials admit that the books are cooked but basically say, "Don't confuse us with facts. We know what we want you to know." They are also muzzling principals while the Ministry of Lies and Deception (MLD) goes into to full ass-cover mode.
CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey also refused to make any principals available to talk about this story. McCaffrey acknowledged that the district has a problem, but said officials don't plan to go back and adjust the rates because of the “billion dollar deficit.” 
Curie Principal Phillip Perry did not respond to phone calls or emails. When reporters stopped by his school, they were not allowed past the front foyer and escorted out by a security guard and a woman who identified herself as a police officer, though she did not have her badge evident and was not in uniform.
Well, maybe that's not the worst part. The worst part may be that researchers at the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research appear to shrug off the deceptive reporting on graduation rates as simply "coding errors" at the school level. They appear to use a method that assumes misreporting that goes both ways, cancelling each other out. The Consortium's Emily Krone says:
In fact, UChicago CCSR research finds double-digit improvements in graduation rates over the last several years, even using a very conservative method of calculation that counts every student who transfers or goes to an alternative school as a dropout.
That's not a "conservative method.. It's a bad guess as well as an unsolicited confession on her part.

CCSR Director Elaine Allensworth claims that coding errors go both ways — some students counted as dropouts did legitimately transfer. Maybe so, but it's not a valid or reliable way to report dropout rates, especially when you have a mayor running for office by boasting of an 82% graduation rate.
The credibility of the researchers is also at stake here.

Okay, so maybe even that's not be the worst part. The worst part may be the complete loss of confidence and trust in administration transparency at the very time when the district needs to go begging for financial support for its schools and when the city's credit rating has been reduced to junk. Remember, it's not just about the false reporting of graduation rates.

They are also misreporting the city's crime rate; did the same on the missing children resulting from the school closures; they overestimated savings from controversial janitorial services with Aramark, partly by forgetting to count 22 entire schools; Rahm's promise to save $60 million by switching garbage collection from a ward-by-ward to a grid system fell $42 million short; and the D.O.T.'s
Inspector failure to report 53% of all requests for pothole and other street repairs.

Figures don't lie but liars can figure.

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