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]

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.

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Comments

Hey there, Wonkeputians! Shypixel here to remind you to remember our Commenting Rules For Radicals, Enjoy!

  • PublicLuxury

    It is the Magic Eraser created by the pioneering folks at the Magic School Bus.

    • CalamityJames

      Did they make the Magic Bullet, too? Cause my ex would really like to thank them.

  • karen

    USA!! USA!! USA!! USA!! USA!!

  • 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.

    • Mahousu

      你说的很对。(I copied that out of the book hidden under my desk.)

    • zhubajie

      Cheating and baldfaced lies will take you a long way in China

  • PublicLuxury

    Maybe they'll give the kiddos a certificate of attendance rather than a diploma.

    • nounverb911

      Doesn't Texas already do that?

    • ThankYouJeebus

      "My Child is a Participant at Noyes Elementary School"

      • Guppy06

        "My Child is Incarcerated at Noyes Elementary School"

        • http://wonkette.com Zvi_Bleindmeis

          "I'm proud of my honor student at Noyes Elementary School, but indifferent toward her mediocre brother!"

          • http://whateveritisimagainstit.blogspot.com trampndirtdown

            Who is probably just as smart, but not as much of a kiss ass as his sister.

  • prommie

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

    • http://www.kenlayisalive.org 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!

  • 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.

  • mavenmaven

    Good enough for our expanding military recruitment needs!

    • nounverb911

      But only if Michelle Obama can un-obese them.

      • http://www.storycorner.us/ JustPixelz

        She's welcome to un-obese me anytime.

    • zhubajie

      Too true, probably

  • http://guyclinch.blogspot.com 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.

  • Jim89048

    I see big profits in eraser futures–can I grow them in my anti-obesity Freedom Garden?

  • prommie

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

    • V572del c:*.* y/n?

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

      • horsedreamer_1

        Tiger Woods?

        • V572del c:/*.* y/n?

          "Cablanisian" ≠ Asian. But that's still a good one!

  • Urban_Achiever

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

    • DaRooster

      Uh, yeah… that would happen.

      • V572del c:*.* y/n?

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

  • freakishlywrong

    Our children isn't learning.

    • http://andrewdrinker.wordpress.com Andrew Drinker

      ""Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling." -GWB

    • smokefilledroommate

      How is babby formed?

  • http://wonkette.com/ 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.

  • 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?

    • zhubajie

      As if tests prove anything.

      • 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.

        • zhubajie

          I completely agree.

  • OC_Surf_Serf

    Hey, that's just writing with both ends of the pencil!

  • DownFist Troll

    Homeschooling: Now taught at regular school.

  • DaRooster

    Good thing they don't use them chad type tests, what a mess that would be.

    • 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.

  • lilblacktombo

    The "No yes" school was changing wrong answers to right ones? Unbelievable.

    • elviouslyqueer

      No no. "INCONCEIVABLE!"

    • Extemporanus

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

  • Texan_Bulldog

    I knew Michelle Rhee was selling snake oil…that is all.

    • http://theaccidentalenvironmentalist.blogspot.com TsunamiAli

      Really makes the New York article Jack riffed on last week seem a lot more prescient, now.

  • chascates

    That's what school prayer will do for you!

  • Pragmatist2

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

    • hagajim

      Except those dumb fuckers keep erasing and the marks won't go away!

    • nounverb911

      Has Mitt gotten the roof of his car clean yet?

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • zhubajie

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

  • 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.

  • ProgressiveInga

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

    • 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.

  • nounverb911

    But the important question is still: Has Laura finally taught George how to read yet?

    • petehammer

      Rarely is that question asked.

    • zhubajie

      Audiobooks. The Bible and Late Great Planet Earth are all he needs, anyway.

  • Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Someone is angling for a big Wall Street job.

  • widestanceroman

    Dumb kids. The smart ones write the answers on their hands.

    • 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.

  • http://andrewdrinker.wordpress.com Andrew Drinker

    What's next? Soft Cell in daycare? Pet Shop Boys on Sesame Street? WE MUST LEGISLATE AGAINST HOMOSEXUAL 80s SYNTHPOP! FOR THE CHILDREN!

    • 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.

      • http://whateveritisimagainstit.blogspot.com trampndirtdown

        naw Newt told me it was O.K. if its just rubbing lady parts together.

  • 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.

    • WriteyWriterton

      I think you're thinking of the "median": "Median is a mathematical result that indicates that one half of the group is higher and one half lower. Median price of 101 sold homes would be that price which is lower than 50 of the prices and also higher than 50 of them." http://realestate.about.com/od/mo/g/defmedian.htm

      • 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.

        • horsedreamer_1

          Statistics!? How do they work?

          • WriteyWriterton

            Number go in, numbers come out. Explain that!

          • aqua_buddha

            How'd d'moon get dere ?

        • 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.

    • 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.

    • zhubajie

      What desperate PhD candidate did the research on *erasure rates*, anyway?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • http://hong-kong-actresses.blogspot.com/ donner_froh

    This is truly shocking–basing rewards solely on test scores leads to cheating on tests. No one could have foreseen that!

  • 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?

    • zhubajie

      Is that how Newt got his degrees?

  • 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?

    • zhubajie

      Neal Bush, bro of the Pres, if rumor be true.

  • http://www.storycorner.us/ 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.

  • 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!!!

  • BarackMyWorld

    It is the goal of American education for every child to be above average.

    • aqua_buddha

      Win of the thread.

  • Extemporanus

    THAT'S NOT ERASURE TRANSCENDENCE!

    • horsedreamer_1

      Don't worry: there's another Madea film coming to theatres.

  • horsedreamer_1
  • EdFlintstone

    Somebody needs to erase all copies of Waiting on Superman.

  • aguacatero

    I'm thinking "outside the box" here, but wouldn't this work with the deficit too?

  • lochnessmonster

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

  • metamarcisf

    Noyes School: Where Number 2 is more than just a pencil.

  • BaldarTFlagass

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • [redacted]hse

    Is you learning?

    • CapnFatback

      Acording to my source, failing is unpossible (Wiggum 205)!

  • http://doubting-timus.blogspot.com/ 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).

  • MinAgain

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

  • smokefilledroommate

    They're gonna break these chains of standardized testing.

  • Troubledog

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

  • MadBrahms

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

  • http://theaccidentalenvironmentalist.blogspot.com 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.

  • http://wonkette.com Pres[ $ rm -r * ]

    No Eraser Left Behind

  • 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.

  • petehammer

    Dude, have a little respect.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?