next up: erasing whole children

Magic ‘Improved’ Schools Just Happen To Have a Lot of Eraser Marks On Their Tests

How do you get out of hot water with Michelle Rhee and ply a bunch of Well-Meaning Treasure from her bonus heap?

A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.

This is a series of documents obtained by USA TODAY through public-records requests. It details a back-and-forth between two District of Columbia agencies on test-score investigations.
Noyes is one of 103 public schools here that have had erasure rates that surpassed D.C. averages at least once since 2008. That’s more than half of D.C. schools.

Wow, these schools are doing a really good job teaching their “kids” how to use an eraser! Thanks, Michelle!

It was about time we brought into our schools what makes the private sector work so well. Cheating is Fundamental™ [USA Today]

Related

About the author

Jack Stuef is your loyal editor and a freelance satirist or something like that. He is a contributing writer for The Onion. E-mail him or whatever.

View all articles by Jack Stuef

Hola wonkerados.

To improve site performance, we did a thing. It could be up to three minutes before your comment appears. DON'T KEEP RETRYING, OKAY?

Also, if you are a new commenter, your comment may never appear. This is probably because we hate you.

108 comments

  1. SexySmurf

    At least they're learning something useful; cheating the system and Mandarin Chinese are the only skills that children will need to survive in 21st century America.

  2. prommie

    Its the work of the invisible hand of the market, improving test scores, as predicted by conservative doctrine!

    1. KenLayIsAlive

      It's liek schools are not very "good" and this is all a crock

      Its the work of the invisible hand of the market, improving test scores, as predicted by conservative doctrine!

  3. Weenus299

    Kids are still using pencils and erasers for these fucking things? Get back to me when they find eraser marks on the computer monitors.

  4. GuyClinch

    Further investigation reveals that DC teachers had permanent graphite stains on outer side of writing hand and permanent calluses between first and second fingers.

  5. prommie

    The teachers didn't do anything wrong, everything was perfectly cromulent. Michelle Rhee's genius simply embiggened the students brains.

    1. V572del c:*.* y/n?

      What ever happened to the idea of Asians as modest high-achievers, rather than camera-chasing fame whores?

  6. Urban_Achiever

    I thought this post was going to be about how Magic Johnson was improving the schools….moving on now…..

      1. V572del c:*.* y/n?

        If the only subject were tail-chasing, Zauber would be the dean, that's for sure.

  7. weejee

    Silly Michelle. It's much easier to have the smart kids take the test first and put tick marks next to the correct answers in the question books. Then you have the folks in the last lift of dumbos erase the ticks in the test booklet. That's how the Army does it.

  8. ttommyunger

    No surprise here. A shitload of Atlanta Public School teachers, administrators and staff are in hot water up to their hairy armpits due to their active role or complicity in changing test papers to reflect a more favorable score. Internal investigations were so clumsily skewed the GBI had to be called in to take over the probe. The big question still unanswered: who is dumber, the dumbass students or the crooked, incompetent dumbass educators?

      1. ttommyunger

        I believe in practical testing, not so much written. As a former instructor at a Federal Law Enforcement Facility, I know the horror stories by heart.

    1. aqua_buddha

      Hmm, good point, with the chads, you could end up cheating the smart kid, and rewarding the smirky kid who never read or studied a bit. That would be a real mess.
      Surely somebody would eventually catch on to that, though.

    1. Extemporanus

      If any answer on this test deserves to have its score erased and replaced with something higher, it's this one.

  9. Pragmatist2

    Knowing what marks to erase is an important skill in life. Ask New Gingrich or Mitt Romney.

  10. Gopherit

    This kind of shit was completely predictable when no child left behind tied federal funding for schools directly to test scores. I can't be snarky about this. Administrators and teachers are put in the position of trying to get more money for their schools to maybe help with their abysmal performance, with the extra sweetening of the conflict of financially enriching themselves if they do cheat. In the mean time, we're raising yet another generation of kids who will be challenged by both the jobs they can find in service and fast food industries. We are our own worst enemy.

    1. problemwithcaring

      No snark, but Unfortunately, good policymakers like those in the administration are also relying on too heavily on high stakes testing.John Deasy is pleasing the LA Times in pushing for this same type of reliance on testing for teacher performance ratings, minus the infusion of resources the teachers need to get the job done.

    2. zhubajie

      It always sounded to me as if they were imitating the worst features of Chinese education.

  11. hagajim

    Wait – aren't the schools just there to babysit the kids anyway? Why do we need an educated citizenry? The dumber the better – for the few richies anyway.

  12. ProgressiveInga

    So while we were sitting around Waiting for Superman, all we really needed was an eraser?

    1. Mumbletypeg

      That, and a fellow con willing to supply the correct answers. Even since the middle of last decade, documented cases in schools (see: Houston public) have uncovered this to include the teachers themselves.
      The "anti-hero" has a new meaning as it's taught in school nowadays.

    1. Redhead

      Nah, because that washes off if you have to use the bathroom sometime before the test ends and aren't completely disgusting.

      The REALLY smart kids pin a piece of paper (typed in 2 point font, since that's smaller than most people can write) to the bottom of their baseball hat brim, if hats are allowed, or they carefully peel off the label on a clear water bottle, tape the paper with answers on it to the inside, and then tape it back – so you can see the label through the bottle.

      And then yell "he's got a teleprompter!!!" to distract the teacher/proctor when s/he walks by.

    1. horsedreamer_1

      I fear it was already too late when we let t.A.t.U. on Total Request Live.

      It is, in fact, going to get us.

  13. ogradybt

    "Noyes is one of 103 public schools here that have had erasure rates that surpassed D.C. averages at least once since 2008. That’s more than half of D.C. schools."

    I'm going to guess that about half of all schools fell below the average erasure rate with the same frequency in the same time period. Because THAT'S KIND OF HOW AVERAGES WORK.

      1. ogradybt

        Sure–but if there's relatively flat distribution among all the entries, the number above & below the average will be close to half. If you're flagging half your entries as outliers you might need to re-evaluate. Not to say school admins juking the stats isn't an issue. I just think it's poor analysis on the part of the reporter.

        BTW, I'm not a statistician. More a glorified data analyst with two English degrees.

        1. WriteyWriterton

          I think it would be a bell-shaped distribution that would produce a median close to an average, but who cares? Our children is not gettin' edumacated.

    1. KnaveOfDiamond

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

      Assuming the number of erasures over schools is just a normal random variable, even without any sort of interesting effect like excessive erasures at some schools, half will have a number of erasures greater than the average. This is because in a normal distribution the mean and median are the same since the distribution is symmetric. If we look over two years, then the number of schools that had more than the average number of erasures in one of those years can only go up to more than half of all schools. So, even *in the absence of any statistically significant effect*, we would get that over half of schools have more than the DC average of erasures over when considered over multiple years.

      To make this statistic interesting, we would need to know if the distribution is unusual, for example, is it bimodal? Can we split the set of DC schools such that these 103 high erasure schools have a distribution of erasures with a statistically significant difference in mean from the remaining schools? These are not difficult tests to run with the data. Hell, they can be done in Excel.

  14. V572del c:*.* y/n?

    My dear old sainted mother, who was a public school teacher, always said that standardized testing as a measure of teacher performance would lead to teachers just "teaching the test." Apparently even that was too much trouble.

  15. user-of-owls

    Au contraire mon frere. That is how medians work. Which is why whatever district Gates or Soros or Les Kochs lives in will have an average income of about eleventy bojillion dollars despite the fact that 99% of the population there does gardening, house cleaning and chauffeuring for said oligarchs.

    Oh, and they're all fucking beaners too.

  16. DonnyKerabotsos

    Well, Newt Gingrich will see this as a positive development since cheating now will prepare those teachers and students to cravenly criticize other cheaters later when they are shutting down the government or running for president.

    And isn't education about preparing for the future?
    Or winning the future?
    Or WTF?

  17. GOPCrusher

    I only wonder which rocket scientist thought it would be a good idea to dole out funds to schools based off of the results of test scores?
    And didn't think it would result in cheating?

  18. JustPixelz

    Is our children erasing?

    Given the levels of cheating college students self-report, it should be no surprise the cut-and-paste approach to learning permeates academics. When I taught training sessions on my job, I'd tell the attendees "There will be a test on this later in your career." Unfortunately that test may be in form or a mushroom-shaped cloud. OOPS! wrong failure of intellect. I mean, the test may be in the form of a medical decision for a loved one.

  19. natoslug

    I am VERY UPSET that more than half the schools have above-average eraser marks. Next you'll tell me that less than half had below-average eraser marks!!!

  20. lochnessmonster

    Can't wait to post NCLB RIP. Worst unfunded federal government program/initiative ever.

  21. BaldarTFlagass

    I guess we can expect the percentage of "undecideds" in electoral polls to increase dramatically as these children enter the voting rolls.

  22. mumbly_ジョジョ

    Noyes is one of 103 public schools here that have had erasure rates that surpassed D.C. averages at least once since 2008. That’s more than half of D.C. schools.

    I just want to point out how dumb this sentence actually is if you spend two seconds thinking about it. Wait, really? "More than half" surpassed the average? At least once in two years? Why, next you'll be telling me that "more than" 2/5ths of absences at those schools were on Mondays or Fridays, also. WHEN WILL SOMEONE STOP THE ABUSE.

    No, but really, that sentence makes whoever wrote the article sound like they came from a failing school.

    1. wondering where i am

      It was USA Today, c'mon. I read that it is geared to a sixth grade reading level. I guess they meant six grade reading level of kids at DC schools.

  23. ulTIMum

    See, all education is only flawed if it doesn't jibe with reality. So, everybody cheats out there? Teach 'em to cheat in here. That's education! It means something like "to lead out," according to Miss Jean Brodie (whose kids never received less than perfect marks).

  24. MinAgain

    When you tie money to good test results, then you get good test results. Thank you for playing.

  25. Troubledog

    Those kids that thought they were all smart, for a while? Now they aren't achievers any more. Hahahahaha.

  26. MadBrahms

    No child left behind! No, seriously, we need them to clear the room so no one will see us altering their exam scores.

  27. TsunamiAli

    Don't want to whore on the Wonkett but the Bartleby Project has a funny name but a serious purpose in asking folks to say, "I prefer not to" when it comes to taking NCLB-mandated tests. I don't know how I feel about project's idea but I like the name.

  28. Ancient_Hackery

    This is old news– I think it was the "Freakonomics" guy that looked into the distribution of right and wrong answers and found all kinds of fishy coincidences.

    Also, he also blew the lid off Sumo Wrestling, but I think there's no connection to standardized test scores there.

  29. Dudleydidwrong

    If the goal of some education is high self-esteem, then what's wrong with erasing? Just keep guessing until someone comes and puts a smiley face on your forehead, and go home and let everyone know how you earned it. If the goal of some education is the attainment of knowledge and skills for future learning then get rid of the goddamn standardized tests! I guess we as a country have made our choice…Fucked we are.

    1. zhubajie

      I knew of a man in the Navy who passed a promotion exam by filling in the circles so as to spell obscenities! He passed, too.

  30. lalmagor

    Um, wait. Are we actually surprised that half of all schools had erasure rates above the district average?

    Did we expect all the schools to be below average?

    Do we understand about averages?

Comments are closed.