Sunday, August 30, 2009

Arne Duncan, "hands-on practitioner"?

From CBS5 - December 16, 2008:
President-elect Barack Obama announced Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system, as education secretary Tuesday...

"When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners," Obama said... "In just seven years, he's boosted elementary test scores here in Chicago from 38 percent of students meeting the standards to 67 percent. The dropout rate has gone down every year he's been in charge."...
From the Chicago Sun Times - August 29, 2009:
Nearly a third of Chicago public high school teachers say they were pressured to change grades this past school year. One in five report they actually raised a grade under such prodding. And dozens of teachers -- elementary and high school alike -- say they believe someone changed their grades last year without their approval...

The findings raise serious questions about whether some of the data used to judge Chicago public schools has been inflated, artificially manipulated -- or in some cases outright altered...
"When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners."

From the Chicago Tribune - October 5, 2008:
The percentage of Chicago public high school students who met or exceeded state standards on a test tied to the ACT college-entrance exam dropped for the third consecutive year...

But in a letter sent to the district’s high school principals, officials Friday cautioned against comparisons to previous test results, citing changes in how state officials this year scored the Prairie State Achievement Exams (PSAE).

“We believe the new PSAE scores are different from the old ones and that valid comparisons between 2008 data and previous years cannot be made,” said schools chief Arne Duncan.

Officials said that a different weighting system was used for the tests that make up overall scores.

But Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the State Board of Education, said federal officials reviewed the new scoring and found it to be comparable to that of previous years.
Apparently, Mr. Duncan's position as head of the Chicago school system didn't afford him the opportunity to manipulate the state's tests scores as it did with the city's test scores. So, he tried to offer up a lame excuse. Nice try, Arnie!

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