LETTER TO THE EDITOR: D.C. test scores were improving before Rhee

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Richard Whitmire asserts that the evidence showing that Michelle A. Rhee produced student test-score gains no greater than those made by her immediate two predecessors came from “twisting the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the highly respected federal test.” (“The battle to defame Michelle Rhee,” Commentary, May 25)

Mr. Whitmire says that examining NAEP test-score gains is inappropriate since it compares “different NAEP tests in different time periods.” In fact, NAEP is carefully designed precisely to yield accurate comparisons of student test-score gains over time. Quoting from the federal government’s description of NAEP: “The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time.”

Based on the NAEP evidence, students in the D.C. Public Schools system have experienced large gains in math and reading scores since 2000. The gains prior to Ms. Rhee’s tenure were comparable to the ones that occurred during her administration.



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