Michelle Rhee on DC cheating: “Absolutely not the case”

In a PBS interview with Tavis Smiley, former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee responded to the USA Today story that challenged the credibility of test score increases under her tenure in Washington.  (USA Today found the same high wrong to right erasure rates uncovered  in some Atlanta schools after AJC investigations in 2008 and 2009.)

Here is the interview:

32 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:30 pm

LOL – like she was going to admit it?


March 29th, 2011
12:46 pm

And here’s Rhee’s written response, given yesterday:




Rhee’s response is almost identical to Hall’s:

- Don’t insult our hardworking students and teachers by assuming that they can’t make sudden humongous increases in scores (merely because of flimsy evidence of erasure rates that are 4 standard deviations from the mean)!

- High numbers of erasures just means that our students are super-diligent!

- We taught our students test-taking strategies, including reviewing their work!

- Students might have gotten off by one question for a bunch of questions, and then gone back and corrected them all, leading to a long line of wrong-to-right erasures!

- We interviewed the alleged cheaters and none of them admitted cheating!

- John Fremer of Caveon Security agrees that cheating hasn’t been proven!

- Caveon Security is an independent firm; unlike most school districts accused of cheating, we took the unusual step of bringing in an independent firm to do the investigation!

- Hey you flat earthers (yes, she actually says that), don’t insult our hardworking students and teachers and superintendent by assuming that they aren’t capable of achieving sudden humongous increases in scores!

Isn’t it a little awkward for Georgia to be bringing in Rhee (who is staking all of her credibility on Caveon’s analysis) to tell it how to improve its schools, at the same time it is conducting its own investigation of APS after essentially rejecting the conclusions of Caveon’s analysis for APS’s Blue Ribbon Commission?

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:57 pm

Wow, it’s like APS all over.

What's best for kids

March 29th, 2011
1:03 pm

Oh, the irony of it all.

HS Public Teacher

March 29th, 2011
1:07 pm

LOL! Rhee is a joke. And, the fact that ANYONE in GA is considering her for ANY position just piles on the evidence that GA education is a joke.

Economics Teacher

March 29th, 2011
1:23 pm

Ohhh, that’s rich!! Best laugh I’ve had in a while.


March 29th, 2011
1:38 pm

It will be interesting to see if those that annointed her as the ‘new kind of superintendent’ and ‘education savior’ continue to support her. I’m more concerned about the fact they did not want to investigate possible problems than the actual problems. This could show they had suspicions but were not interested in knowing the truth.


March 29th, 2011
2:12 pm

Not to mention her OWN “confusion” or “forgetfulness” about her inaccuracy in reporting her own miraculous test score improvements when she was a teacher (those very few years)!


March 29th, 2011
2:13 pm

If test scores magically improve a whole lot it comes down to two basic choices. Somebody is cheating or somebody was lucky. Nothing in between. A slow movement upward as a trend over 4 or 5 years may indicate good instructional practices or more involved families but anything that looks to good to be true – is. A bunch of students do not just all of the sudden get really smart, motivated and become great test takers because the teacher and principal of one year are that good.

[...] the original post: Michelle Rhee on DC cheating: “Absolutely not the case” – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… Posted in Uncategorized Tags: chancellor, dallas-morning, erasure-marks, journal, [...]

Mikey D

March 29th, 2011
3:23 pm

She actually said that people who questioned these miraculous gains were “flat-earthers”. The arrogance and contempt for common sense that this woman displays are stunning. My grandmother always warned me that the higher the horse, the harder the fall. Let’s hope that Ms. Rhee’s fall is swift and complete. She has no credibility left. Hopefully members of the media won’t allow her to continue pimping them out for positive press, which I’m sure she hopes will lead to more contributions to her foundation.


March 29th, 2011
3:37 pm

Rhee lied about her own test scores as a TFA intern. She lied about the budget shortfall in DC that miraculously disappeared. She lied about the teachers she fired during her phony budget crisis. She lied about the actual test results while she was in charge, even WITH the cheating (test scores went DOWN during her last year after rising for nearly two decades, even with the cheating. She gave bonuses to the principal and teachers at the school that cheated the most, and promoted the principal. She’s lying about this. She a liar and a fraud. Without the backing of Bill Gates and hedge funds, she’d be unemployed or in jail, or both.

Patrick Crabtree

March 29th, 2011
4:34 pm

Thanka Maureeen for publishing my comment. Rhee, Hall, and Alonzo are just pawns for the bigger picture to discredit public schools. They tried unsuccessfully to blame the masses of teachers. They tried unsuccessfully to discredit unions. They tried to promote charters, vouchers and the likes. My questions is, ‘who is the REAL force behind them and what is their agenda?’ I said it before and I will say it again, when there is big bonuses, pay-for-performance, unreal expectations for academic gains, overt job threats, and high stakes testing, inequities will occur. In other words, it will make ethical people do unethical things.

Patrick Crabtree

March 29th, 2011
4:35 pm

Ooopsa, ‘Thanks’

HS Math Teacher

March 29th, 2011
4:35 pm

Those who live by the sword……


March 29th, 2011
4:36 pm

She was out to make herself look good and turned a blind eye to the obvious cheating. DC schools hired the company that said they could find no irregularities/wrong doing. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! Taught here pet principals how to be good with an eraser.

She’s a smooth talker…and guilty as SIN! Now folks know the real Rhee.

What goes around, comes around. Hope she chokes on those test scores.


March 29th, 2011
5:41 pm

This woman makes me want to puke! There are other phonies out there, investigative media! Check out their claims!

Time to take the god or goddess label off these pretenders!

APS Teacher

March 29th, 2011
6:05 pm

Bev & Michelle = BFFs forever!


March 29th, 2011
6:19 pm

I wish people would stop cheating already so we can show that kids in poverty consistently have problems. We need to look at the bigger picture (their home life, their nutrition, their pre-school expreiences) to solve the problem, rather than laying it all down on the teacher that they will have for 10 months of the year.


March 29th, 2011
6:22 pm

Just once, don’t you want to hear someone say “I absolutely want to know if there was cheating in my district. We made policy decisions based on this data, and we need to know if it was false.”


March 29th, 2011
6:49 pm

@HS Math Teacher. Well said. Short and to the point.


March 29th, 2011
7:01 pm

What they should do is give the same test to the same students that took it before under carefully observed conditions and see what the scores are! I would give a lot to see that!

Mikey D

March 29th, 2011
7:45 pm

@Fericita – I totally agree that people like Rhee and Hall SHOULD want to know all the facts, but both have built their reputations upon a fraudulent premise, and now that the lies and corruption are being exposed (and it’s about time!) they are trying as hard as they can to cling to the lie, in spite of how unbelievable it has become.

Top School

March 29th, 2011
10:18 pm

Test scores …bank loans…inflated appraisals…the economy…THE NUCLEAR FALLOUT from the Japan disaster…

Please…we are not idiots…These so called educated individuals are as corrupt as they get.

They all use the same recipe and it doesn’t work anymore.
We are tired of the lies and twisted truths in attempts to cover-up the corruption.
When will the general public remove these leaders from office??? These leaders are no better than a dictator telling us he is not killing his people. THEY BOTH LOOK STRAIGHT INTO THE CAMERA AND LIE WITHOUT SKIPPING A BEAT.
The fact is… this mentality is draining the public’s trust…their pocket books and their lies go unchallenged. Someone needs to make criminals out of these folks and set the example.

Arrest them and charge them with public fraud.



March 29th, 2011
10:23 pm

Sad. Just sad.

Atlanta Teacher

March 29th, 2011
11:51 pm

Glad the real truth was revealed about Rhee before she boarded a plan headed for Atlanta cause we don’t need another fake She-ro after Kathy lying Augustine and Beverly cheating Hall. Kathy Augustine and Beverly Hall’s doctorate degrees are both probably fake and based on lies. Look out world, no school district should ever open their doors to these two crooks who happen to be college educated thugs that treat employees horrible. And they don’t care for children either.

Common Sense

March 30th, 2011
7:10 am

For those slamming Rhee, take a step back and ask yourself why you don’t like her. Is it because her only priority was student achievement? Is it because she didn’t perpetuate the status quo by pretending there actually aren’t any problems with the criminally low achievement rates for low-income children of color in DC (or any other major city). The approaches many of you seem to be advocating amount to what we’ve done educationally for many years in major urban areas. These approaches have led to very little — if any — gain for urban youth in America.

I encourage you all to think for yourselves. The third party consulting firm has nothing to gain by supporting Michelle Rhee. They’re a third party whose reputation is not tied to her doing well. They said there was no cheating. Seems to me to carry more weight than an allegation of cheating.


March 30th, 2011
8:14 am

I understand there is an Independent third party entity that monitors for any cheating. I guess I went to school when my school’s testing and aptitude or achievement tests allowed erasres on pencils. In fact, as a part of the Directions prior to the testing, we were instructed to be sure to check our work and to erase completely before changing our answers. How come everyone seems to think the Teachers are erasing and correcting? Could this be some conspiracy theory pushed by the Teachers Union so as to avoid an objective measure of their own work product?

Darn Yankee

March 30th, 2011
10:59 am

Common Sense – I can tell you why I don’t like her…she had three years in a classroom, and now she’s supposed to be a guru. Those three years weren’t as successful as the PR would have you believe…and now this comes out?

She has made a career out of bashing an easy target – teachers. It’s a politically popular thing to do, because it takes the responsibility off of the parents and the students for their role in the failure (and, believe me, they have a role).

Am I saying that there are no bad teachers, or that all teachers are perfect and all parents are terrible? No, not at all. I’m saying that in this socio-political climate – the climate of Boortz and his “gubmint schoolz” and calls for vouchers because the educational sky is falling in – that Rhee’s rhetoric fell in line with what the politicians and educrats wanted to hear and believe. Sad truth is that teachers have very little say in what they teach, sometimes even how they teach. They have little say in the administrative decisions from above. Much of what I see teachers blamed for are largely things that are out of their control. She’s making money off political ineptitude, and that ticks me off.


March 30th, 2011
11:07 am

Waiting for Superman – NOT!

APS teacher

March 30th, 2011
11:10 am

We have a TFA art teacher in my building. Absolutely no ability to relate to students and faculty. She has actually made the statement,… “I don’t care about the kids!”

calling all toasters

March 31st, 2011
12:09 pm

Mel– it’s very simple: in general, erasures tend to not raise scores. At many schools in DC, there was an overwhelming pattern of changes that improved scores. Statistically, it’s as if you had a process where improving or worsening a score was essentially a coin flip, and these schools came up ‘heads’ almost all the time. There is no reasonable explanation for this except that the adjustments were made by someone who is at a much higher academic level.