The RSD and New Orleans miracle (of cheating)

The RSD and New Orleans miracle (of cheating)

Some of you may have read by my recent expose on the issues facing Mary D. Coghill elementary school (an RSD school which was turned into a Park View charter school this year without any internal records or discussion of why this was done.)

I asked why this was done, and some basic info about what the accountability plans were for Mary D. Coghill as part of my investigation, but was told no such discussion or record existed. I was told no sitecode existed for this new site. (or at least this site was never discussed in e-mail or interoffice mail or memorandum.) I can assume LDOE is telling me the truth (or lying and violating state law. )

Incidentally when I re-read my notes I realized I had the number of students pulled out incorrect. It was not 70, but 90 students pulled out for special reading aloud accommodations or 26% of all students taking tests.

(I will amend my previous post with this correction.)

But while I think this is likely a serious and intentional abuse of testing accommodations that took place over multiple years for the purpose of improving RSD test scores, if this was the only case I can understand why you might think my recommendation, to have all reports of cheating investigated by an external auditor, overkill. However this is not the only case of reported cheating or abuse of testing accommodations or policies. This is but the tip of a very large iceberg, and we have no idea how much is lurking below the surface. We have evidence of at least 38 schools involved in testing irregularities or outright cheating in New Orleans (most in RSD.) How many more cases exist that we have not found out about, or which were completely concealed from any public inquiry or record? How many have not been reported by teachers for fear of being fired as coach Frank was when he tried to the right thing?

In addition to Mary D. Coghill, I believe there is a serious case to be made for cheating taking place at John Mcdonogh High School under RSD’s direction before it was turned over to a charter school with Future is Now Schools under Steve Barr. A former accountability source detailed the reason I believe John McDongh’s scores were being influenced by RSD cheating. . .

Actually, a sharp drop in school performance is a common flag that indicates a “cheater” has been replaced, or monitored to prevent cheating The perfect example of this was in West Baton Rouge Parish. A former superintendent whose wife ran the IT department had all kids who dropped out at Brusly High School transfer to Port Allen High and be recorded as Port Allen dropouts. After the couple ‘moved on,’ Port Allen High’s results shot up, while Brusly’s dropped. The current IT director (Tammy Seneca) can confirm this.

Prior to the handover of John Mac to a private charter organization, the school posted less than stellar School Performance Scores (SPS). But the latest score, a 9.3 out of 150 is absurd and represents a 78% drop in a single year. To get back to where they were before the handover from RSD, John Mac would have to improve their score more than 400%.

Operator Year SPS Score out of 150
RSD

2008

20.9

RSD

2009

21.6

RSD

2010

32.2

RSD

2011

41.8

FIN

2012

9.3

So with Mary D. Cogwell we have a reported case of cheating that involved a teacher coming forward, subsequently being fired under suspicious circumstances, no investigation taking place, a whistleblower lawsuit being filed, and the secretive closure of the RSD school.

We have another RSD school, John Mcdonogh, posting steady gains from 2008 through 2011, when it was handed over to a charter operator who discovered what may be the true performance of RSD schools, a 9.3 out of 150.

We have three charter schools that RSD oversees with reported cheating. They have allowed the school boards to investigate themselves and decide that no cheating has occurred. These schools are

Lafayette Academy:

Lafayette Academy, which is governed by the Choice Foundation, has received acclaim in recent years for its high academic performance. At the end of its first year in 2007, its school performance score was a failing score of 38.6 out of 200. That jumped by 20 points in 2008, another 5 points the next year, and at least 10 points each year after that. Its 2012 score is a 93.4, a C under the state’s letter grade system.

The scope of the cheating investigation remains unclear. Jim Huger, president of the Choice Foundation board, would only say that the board concluded that no wrongdoing occurred. The board hired a private attorney, local media lawyer Loretta Mince, to look into the claims. She referred questions to Huger.

“This is a matter that is very murky, and very sort of a ‘he-said, she-said,’ and we investigated it,” Huger said Monday. “Cheating is a very ugly word.”

Miller-McCoy Academy:

This is the third time in recent years that such allegations have surfaced at a New Orleans charter school. In 2010, teachers at Miller-McCoy Academy reported to the Recovery School District, which oversees the school, that someone had opened the state’s standardized test in advance to give test-takers extra prep on the questions.

RSD intervened, conducting its own investigation – in addition to the school’s board – that ultimately concluded that some kind of cheating did occur.

The Miller-McCoy board investigation, however, found no evidence of cheating. School officials refused to void their scores but required teachers to undergo training on proper administration of tests.

Robert Moton Charter Elementary

In August [2012], an Orleans Parish School Board investigation found evidence of cheating at Robert Moton Charter Elementary School. Moton’s board, like Lafayette and McCoy’s, concluded otherwise.

Moton was required to present preventative measures against cheating to the Orleans Parish School Board, which oversees Moton. The faculty member accused of the cheating no longer works at the school.

So now we are up to 5 schools, but the cheating doesn’t stop there. According to investigations conducted by the Lens reporter Jessica Williams, and records reported by the Louisiana Department of Education, as many as 33 additional schools have been involved in cheating or testing irregularities in the past 3 years without serious repercussions or reports to the general media.

In three recent years, 33 New Orleans public schools have been flagged for problems and possible cheating on standardized tests, including an excessive number of changed answers, plagiarism and improper test proctoring, according to records provided by the Louisiana Department of Education.

To my counting that brings the cases of reported or suspected cheating up to 38 schools.

12 of these 33 schools have repeat problems, and most of them are RSD schools.

Over the three-year period, 12 schools had repeated problems. Most of them are RSD schools:

Dwight Eisenhower Academy of Global Studies, an RSD charter

Dr. King Charter School, an RSD charter

Edna Karr High School, an OPSB charter

Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School of Literature and Technology, an OPSB direct-run school

Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary, an RSD direct-run school

O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School and Community Center, an RSD charter

Thurgood Marshall Early College High School, an RSD charter

F.W. Gregory Elementary School, an RSD direct-run school

International School of Louisiana, a BESE charter

George Washington Carver Senior High School, an RSD direct-run school

Langston Hughes Academy, an RSD charter

John Dibert Community School, an RSD charter

This is the same RSD that Reformers like Leslie Jacobs have been touting as models that should be replicated in other struggling school districts.

This is despite the fact the state did not check for a high rate of changed answers in 2009 and 2010 because of “budget reasons.”

There were problems at about 22 percent of the city’s schools in 2011, twice as many as the year before. A likely reason: In 2010, the state didn’t check tests for high rates of changed answers, citing budget cuts.

The state didn’t check for high rates of changed answers in 2009 for the same reason, department officials told The Lens.

How many more “irregualarities might be have discovered and largely ignored? Hard to say, but despite this lax and irresponsible oversight, and the failure of many of these entities to investigate or report instances of cheating, RSD and reformers want you to believe the New Orleans turnaround model.

RSD and LDOE has only turned over data touting their success of charters and RSD to the charter friendly CREDO institute, a Hoover institute spinoff run by charter champions Margaret Raymond and Eric Hanushek, a husband and wife team and Hoover institute fellows. (Eric has also famously promoted the idea that class size doesn’t matter and that class sizes of 50 or more are appropriate if only a “good” teacher is present.) LDOE have in fact used FERPA to rebuff other researchers from obtaining the same data that might disprove the claims RSD and LDOE makes about their success. Incidentally, did you know these brainiacs compared Ben Franklin and Luscher (charter schools that only accepts kids who meet strong academic standards, against regular RSD schools which must take everyone, and based upon this comparison determined charter marginally better than traditional public schools, represented by RSD? (Special Note: When asked to comment on how and why they did this and how they don’t believe this is a complete misrepresentation, Margaret and her chief researcher, Devora Davis, declined to comment.)

However I digress. The point here, is LDOE and RSD, and charter schools, cannot be trusted to investigate their own cheating. What happens when cheating is reported is those reporting the cheating like Coach Frank are conveniently disappeared, schools are secretly closed and rechartered, and Boards conveniently lose the reports and bury the investigations. While RSD and New Orleans is being used as a model for the Nation, people are not being given a true picture. All they are seeing is the result of cheating that is being hidden, stats that are being massaged and produced by puppet organizations like CREDO, and publicity that is being bought by hedge fund managers that want everyone to jump onboard the charter train so they can rack up.

Education is big business in the United States, and worldwide.

What would you do for 809 billion dollars, annually in the US or several trillion wordwide? Would you fudge a few stats, fund a few friendly researchers to show your product is safe (like tobacco did in the 70s and now charters schools do today), or take out some full page ads in papers? For those who mock folks that try to expose this corruption by calling us conspiracy theorists, wouldn’t you be more surprised if folks weren’t doing this, and much, much, more?

That is why we need proper controls and oversight. We are not just putting our own children, or children from New Orleans, at risk by failing to investigate the fairy tale that is the New Orleans miracle, we are endangering the rest of Louisiana, the US and the world.

So in that context, these recommendations from my previous article are not all that onerous, are they?

  • I recommend that the legislative auditor’s office heretofore investigate all reported instances of cheating and that the legislature encode this into law. (for charters, RSD, vouchers schools and traditional public schools)
  • I encourage a formal investigation into whether federal laws relating to fraud were violated if any federal funds were disbursed as a result of these fraudulently obtained test scores, and reporting the findings to relevant authorities.
  • I recommend an expansion of the whistleblower law for greater protections of teachers reporting cheating.
  • I recommend an audit of all direct run RSD schools and test scores from 2007 to present with particular care paid to accommodations and relevant IEP and IAP paperwork.
  • I recommend tapes be made of tests being read for review.
  • I recommend new guidelines be published for when and which accommodations are appropriate and the accommodations being provided are not solely used for high stakes testing. If these kids are really struggling with a disability, it is much more important that children get these accommodations throughout the year to facilitate their actual learning of the material. It is much more important to the children, and the furtherance of their education, that these accommodations be made while they are learning this material rather than just when they are being tested on it once for a school grade.

If RSD is legit, and not the product of cheating, misrepresented stats, and subterfuge, don’t you think it’s time they proved it, and all the fancy claims they make? They tell us they can fly, but they won’t show us any wind beneath their wings. It’s time to put up or shut up.


I suspect when we look closer, under the full light of day, RSD will not fly for very long. . .

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Are the RSD (Recovery School District) and LDOE (Louisiana Department of Education) actively covering up school wide test cheating that bolsters their performance?

Are the RSD (Recovery School District) and LDOE (Louisiana Department of Education) actively covering up school wide test cheating that bolsters their performance?

I have been told the RSD and LDOE are actively covering up cheating on student test scores so I have embarked on a quest to discover the truth. My quest is ongoing but I have learned some things from evidence presented to me and responses I’ve had to my Freedom of Information Requests to the LDOE. I’ve gotten no response from RSD, which has been defined in numerous cases as a non-juridical entity incapable of suing or being sued. They are legally considered a part of LDOE, but they have a separate e-mail system and LDOE does not appear to supply any information on their behalf.  Nifty Catch 22 or a violation of state law, you be the judge.

Case 2:11-cv-01588-SSV-JCW

The court noted that both the Department of Education and the State

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are a “body

corporate” under the Louisiana Revised Statutes. Id.; La. Rev.

Stat. 36:642 (Department of Education); La. Rev. Stat. 17:1

(Board of Elementary and Secondary Education). The court also

noted that while Louisiana Revised Statute 17:51 “makes a parish

school board a ‘body corporate with power to sue[,]’ [t]he

statute authorizing the RSD (La. Rev. Stat. 17:1990) contains no

equivalent language . . . .” Id. at 357-58. For these reasons,

the court held that “the RSD does not function independently of

the DOE and BESE as it is not a body corporate capable of being

sued or suing directly.” Id. at 358.

Moreover, RSD’s organizing statute clearly states that RSD

“shall be administered by the state Department of Education,

subject to the approval of the State Board of Elementary and

Secondary Education.” La. Rev. Stat. § 17:1990(A)(2). This

power structure further contrasts RSD with parish school boards,

which “must comply with State laws . . . [but] are autonomous

political creatures that are separate and distinct entities

providing the framework for education in their respective

parishes.” Hamilton v. City of Natchitoches, 903 So.2d 1247,

1250 (La. App. 2005). Here, however, RSD is by statute an

“intermediate educational unit” that is not capable of selfadministration.

La. Rev. Stat. § 17:1990(B)(1)(a). Accordingly,

the Court finds that the RSD is not a juridical person capable of

suing or being sued under the Roberts analysis. See Adams v.

Orleans Parish Recovery Sch. Dist., No. 11-30751, 2012 WL 612777,

at *1 (5th Cir. Feb. 27, 2012)(noting that “RSD is not an entity

that can sue or be sued”).

(For any lawyers out there seeking to bring a case against RSD, make sure you bring your case against LDOE or your case will be dismissed too.)

To be clear, I do not have conclusive evidence of cheating at this time but I do have evidence that no investigations were made and reprisals were made against the teacher who reported this situation. My case is steadily building and this will be but the first of several articles revealing what I’ve learned and continue to learn.

The case, as it was presented to me, is as follows:

In the Spring of 2011 Mary D. Coghill Elementary, an RSD direct run school headed by principal Aisha Jones and overseen by John White when he was superintendent of RSD, reportedly pulled as many as 70 3rd through 8th graders out of their classes during Spring testing to have teachers read the test aloud to these students in small groups. A partial list of the alleged proctors of the small group read aloud students with student counts was provided to me and is displayed below.

This 70 student figure amounts to about 20% of their total students tested.

Prior to this pullout, teachers were asked to provide lists of their students who could likely pass the LEAP and iLEAP tests if the tests were read to them. Each teacher was reportedly required to supply this list to the main office, and these students were subsequently removed from their classes during test time for the purpose of having tests read to them, rather than reading the test and answers themselves. This is what is called a testing accommodation. A small percentage of students classified as Section 504 (under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1973) are defined as handicapped by a mental or physical limitation that does not rise to the level of being defined as disabled or requiring Special Education services. In a typical school around 7% of students will be classified as 504. These are students that are diagnosed with a recognized medical diagnosis such as ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, minor vision impairment not classified as blindness, emotional disturbance, or a broken/injured llimb with a recovery time longer than 6 weeks, etc.. Additionally these students must have been classified as having trouble in school over an extended period of time as a result of their handicap as evidenced by low grades. Students cannot have A’s and B’s and be defined as section 504. They cannot simply be classified as 504 because they have low grades or struggle in school without a specific diagnosis. Typically these are students with below C averages or who have been held back one or more years in school to qualify as 504 students, and these students would have an associated IAP (Individualized Accommodation Plan) [not to be confused with an IEP for SPED students] that would list accommodations needed such as more time on tests for dyslexic students, or larger print for vision impaired students. Of the very small percent of students classified as 504 (which is a subset of students who have a specifically diagnosed disability) only a small percentage of those would require tests to be read aloud to them perhaps dyslexic students but not students with ADHD. If you know anyone with ADHD, which is one of top 504 diagnoses, you understand why that would never work.) Additionally, these accommodations would need to have been defined on a student’s IAP before the test, students would receive these accommodations from their teachers throughout the year on all other tests. These accommodations would have to be notated on the tests booklets that were submitted to our testing company. Those scores and testing accommodations then end up on test files at the Louisiana Department of Education, if they are notated. In this case, and perhaps many other across RSD and the state, these accommodations were not notated, they were not provided to students throughout the year, and these students were never identified as 504.

The insinuation made is that these students who had the test read to them received an unfair advantage over kids who did not. I’ve made numerous inquiries to former accountability, testing, RSD and New Orleans folks and discovered a few interesting things that add some dimensions to this situation.

I have been told that students who do not receive accommodations regularly before the tests do not see improvement according to research:

Accommodations should be routinely applied in the classroom, so that would mean that for all those kids they are reading all of their normal tests aloud as well.  This is probably done poorly in a lot of places.  When they don’t routinely use the accommodation, research shows the kids don’t benefit from it on the state test.

I was even told a New Orleans school tried this strategy before, but ended up with students scoring worse:

An Orleans school – pre Katrina – There were two warring factions in the school – the new principal and her supporters vs the anti-newcomer squadron.  They found out about 504 shortly before testing and during the last week that they could identify a kid as 504, they identified all the boys as having 1 disability and all the girls as having another.  Everyone got the “test read aloud” accommodation.  The school did substantially worse that year than the year before.  Accommodations are supposed to be used in regular classroom assessments.  These kids had never been read to.

I was also told that this is not a recent phenomenon but was a common situation in New Orleans even before charters and RSD, because they had so many kids that couldn’t read they needed all the help they can get:

For the 504 question- yes, if it’s Orleans

When I worked in NOPS before Katrina it was common to get as many on 504 accommodations as they could because many kids could not read

I imagine the charters have followed suit

Despite what many ignorant reformers tout or believe, I do not believe New Orleans was a bed or roses before Katrina, nor do I pardon their transgressions. I merely don’t excuse the same corruption after Katrina because it’s “less” or different folks engaging in it, or because you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet reform approach. (For instance, I do not believe RSD can neglect John McDonogh, simply because Orleans parish did after they were given 34 million dollars by the federal government to fix it up, and after John White promised to start renovations 2 years ago on nationally syndicated television while no hammer has been lifted.)

No matter how many statistics come from the Louisiana Department of Education showing the substantial gains in student achievement in New Orleans schools since 2005, there’s a stubborn knot of naysayers who insist that the stats are the result of a conspiracy by a dishonest government and power-hungry reformers.

They seem to mourn the chaotic, inept, even corrupt system of schools that existed before Katrina finally gave state officials an excuse to seize most of them.

Pro reformers, like Dawn Ruth who styles herself a freelance journalist, believe they can misrepresent the opinions of folks they’ve never met or spoken to, and lie about them willy-nilly, and without the barest notion of research, to discredit their opinions. One example of this from her article was trying to dismiss and characterize me as a vengeful former employee by telling folks mater-of-factly, and entirely falsely, that I was “fired” rather than voluntarily quitting after giving my 2 week notice to start my new job and my blog to speak out about the abuse and corruption under John White. (But I digress, that will be a post for later for my new fanclub member.)  Unlike most pro-reformers I do not get paid for my opinions or endorsements.

This e-mail from a teacher, “Coach” Frank Buckley says it all. Coach reported the testing irregularities to his superiors, testing authorities at LDOE his superintendent (John White) and the de facto head of LDOE Erin Bendily. For his trouble Coach was retroactively fired back to May. He subsequently filed a whistleblower suit which is still being litigated, although not without plenty of legal maneuvering over proper venue and whether RSD is a juridical body capable of suing or being sued.

When I asked LDOE to provide me any correspondence into investigation of this report I was given this e-mail chain along with what appears to be the extent of investigation conducted by LDOE. They decided to let John White handle it, who chose not to investigate.

Coach Buckley was fired shortly thereafter as part of a reduction in force of one. Him. Shortly after his retroactive firing Aisha Jones apparently immediately advertised for the need for a new teacher. This position was never offered to Coach Buckley, who was theoretically terminated simply as a reduction in force.

The below is from Coach Buckley’s legal filings.

It seems pretty clear to me from my reading of e-mails that no investigation took place and that coach was terminated because he was raising uncomfortable questions. It is abundantly clear from the documents released (and lack of documents released) that John White knew about this situation and did nothing to investigate it despite warnings from even LDOE staff that this looked suspicious. From my conversations with Coach it appears many of his math students that were better prepared did poorer on the math portion of the LEAP test than the 16 students that were removed for tests to be read aloud in small groups. There is no question that Coach should have been notified if those students were 504 students prior to the date of the test. It is statistically impossible that every student he identified as struggling, and only the ones he identified as struggling in his class, were secretly 504 students with an exceptionality that required tests to be read aloud in small groups.

If a student cannot read a test they will not do well on a test. If you read a test aloud to students this gives students who cannot read an advantage other students in other comparable situations would not have. This in and of itself might lead to increased test scores and is also not legal if the children were not properly classified as 504. But reading a test aloud also allows teachers and proctors to emphasize correct answers, intentionally or unintentionally, by changing the tone of one’s voice, tone, facial expression etc. When you have schools blatantly and on a systematic and school-wide basis violating state and federal rules and laws in regards to test administration for personal and professional gain, it is that much more likely to have occurred. (When teachers and principals are retained or fired based upon student performance you build personal and professional gain into the system.)

I was not in those classrooms where tests were read and cannot say one way or the other whether this took place, but it is a possibility. Based on research and past experience, these children should have done no better or much worse than their counterparts without this intervention, however the opposite appears to have happened, and happened consistently enough that based on the report provided by LDOE below, it appears this school, Mary D Coghill of RSD, employs this reading accommodation with virtually every flagged 504 student too.

According to a recently released report in response to a FOIA filing I made last month in 2010-2011 Mary D. Coghill reported to the state that they had 51 students in grades 3 -8 identified as qualifying for 504 services, and all but one student required their tests read aloud and all students required small test group administration (where tests were read aloud whether students needed them read aloud or not.) According to my Coach, who was a teacher who reported this as an irregularity and quite likely indicative of intentional cheating by teachers, as many as 70 students were pulled out of classes, 20% or 1 out of every 5 students taking the LEAP or iLEAP test at Mary D. Coghill. According to self-reported data from Mary D. Coghill to the state, virtually every student identified as 504, every year for which data was reported, had their tests read aloud to them. However if Coach is accurate, the totals may be far higher than this, and certainly not restricted to simply students identified as 504, but any student identified as struggling academically. If this is true, and not a phenomenon confined to Mary D. Coghill, we may be seeing one of the secrets to RSD’s recent modest success. As far as schemes go, this is a pretty good one, and unlike the amateurish cheating scandal in Atlanta, shows a more sophisticated take on cheating the High Stakes testing system with a mind toward eluding detection. However, in order for this scheme to succeed, there would have to be tacit buy-in by those in charge. That would mean the principal as well as the head of RSD at the very least.

In 2011 John White was still relatively fresh on the RSD scene. He may not have known what was going on initially, but when this situation was reported to him directly in e-mail, via phone, in person and to his superiors at the LDOE it would be hard to deny he was aware of this situation and allegations. Unlike charter schools, which have their own boards of oversight, Mary D. Coghill was one a dozen or so direct run RSD schools, directly run by none other than then RSD superintendent John White, now the State Superintendent of Education. John White did not have responsibility for the hundreds of schools he has responsibility for now, just a dozen or so, so you would think he would take a keen interest at any allegation of cheating in his first stint as a Superintendent anywhere. The only significant action that I see taken by RSD was the firing of the teacher reporting the testing issue.

When you cover-up for cheating you are encouraging it. When you punish those who report it, you embolden cheaters and discourage whistleblowers. When you reward those who improve their test scores and School Performance Scores through cheating with renewed contracts and financial incentives and rewards you are violating state and federal laws related to fraud as well as a violation of the False Claims Act. When you assist others in covering up their fraud, you are aiding and abetting fraud, which is also a criminally prosecutable crime. The test score erasure scandal in Atlanta landed many teachers, principals and the superintendent in criminal court as may very well be appropriate here. More investigation is certainly needed and long overdue. I will be releasing more information in the coming days and weeks, however I would recommend the following changes be submitted to the legislature and for consideration at the next BESE meeting.

  • I recommend that the legislative auditor’s office heretofore investigate all reported instances of cheating and that the legislature encode this into law. (for charters, RSD, vouchers schools and traditional public schools)
  • I encourage a formal investigation into whether federal laws relating to fraud were violated if any federal funds were disbursed as a result of these fraudulently obtained test scores, and reporting the findings to relevant authorities.
  • I recommend an expansion of the whistleblower law for greater protections of teachers reporting cheating.
  • I recommend an audit of all direct run RSD schools and test scores from 2007 to present with particular care paid to accommodations and relevant IEP and IAP paperwork.
  • I recommend tapes be made of tests being read for review.
  • I recommend new guidelines be published for when and which accommodations are appropriate and the accommodations being provided are not solely used for high stakes testing. If these kids are really struggling with a disability, it is much more important that children get these accommodations throughout the year to facilitate their actual learning of the material. It is much more important to the children, and the furtherance of their education, that these accommodations be made while they are learning this material rather than just when they are being tested on it once for a school grade.

To be continued. . .

Did you miss me?

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Atlanta, you ain’t got nothin’ on cheatin’ compared to Louisiana

Atlanta, you ain’t got nothin’ on cheatin’ compared to Louisiana

At least Atlanta had the decency to only modify test scores, but they didn’t lie about the very existence of schools.  The Atlanta scandal seemed to be confined to a single district’s schenanigans, but in Louisiana, the entire State Department of Education is corrupt and in cahoots with the cheaters, and they seem to be doing this with the blessings of the Federal Department of Education.

You see, a little more than a year ago I notified my superiors at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that we had at least one district was not reporting schools to us that were in operation, and instead reporting those students as if they were enrolled at other schools to boost those schools SPS (School Performance Scores.) (I’ve been told many more schools were doing this but i did the background on just one small one district and reported this finding to my superiors.)  I sent a request to this district that they start reporting the students at these schools listed on their websites (each school had its own website maintained by students or faculty) and listed in various news articles as schools.  This issue immediately got picked up by the highest officials in the Louisiana Department of Education, including our acting Superintendent, Ollie Tyler, the head of our Accountability deparment Scott Norton, the parish superintendent Ed Cancienne, and Linda Johnson,  the BESE board representative for this district.  It was at this point I learned this was an issue already well known to the previous superintendent, Paul Pastorek.

The Parish (county to folks outside of Louisiana) doing this is Iberville.  You can check out their website here.  If you click on the schools listing you will be able to follow along with my story (until they yank their website. . . don’t worry I copied tons of docs and screen captures in the event LDOE or Iberville decide to try to conceal this issue now.)  Under the schools listing please notice the Alternative Schools dropdown list.  You will see the Math Arts and Sciences Academy East and the Math Arts and Sciences Academy West.

These “schools” have never been reported to the State of Louisiana. Both campuses have been in operation since 2008. Both of these schools have gotten new buildings built – just for their students. However none of those students, nor any of their test scores or other demographics are reported to the state. These are Magnet schools (meaning for advanced students and coursework – for Louisiana.) As the name implies the purpose of these schools is to attract better students to a better environment. I went to a magnet school myself, so I can attest to the value of them over traditional schools . . . but that’s kind of the point. These schools are newer campuses (in Iberville these are the first new school buildings built in the last 20 years according to some of their own published materials) and the teachers are usually the best, and the schools are often the best funded. Magent schools generally have much better test scores than their peers as they attract the best students.  These schools often the best local partnerships with local businesses and often get a lion share of media attention. The other schools are left with whatever is left over in terms of students, teachers and resources.

While the magnet schools are a good deal for the students that can attend, the rest of the district gets crapped on as a result. In Louisiana, if you have schools that do consistently poorly, they can be taken over by the state and the funding yanked out from under them and given to a charter operator. I’m not a big fan of that, which I’ve covered in numerous other postings, however “them’s the rules” that everyone else has to live by (in theory.) So what is an enterprising district to do? Well of course you need the state funding for these students in these schools that don’t officially exist, and school performance scores are determined based on test scores (in addition to dropout rates, attendance rates, etc.) These magnet schools excel in those areas. What Iberville (and probably other schools and districts in Louisiana) has done is report those magnet school students as if they were attending the crappier leftover schools. This boosts the leftover schools SPS scores and makes them ineligible for takeover. It deludes the parents of those schools into thinking their schools are better than they are and the students are either less eligible or ineligible to qualify for vouchers. In return, this district and the parents are more supportive of John White’s privatization agenda – an agenda that harms everyone else in the State, but Iberville never needs to worry about it applying to them. Sweet deal.

Now here’s some assorted items of proof. I’ve tried reporting this to the folks at EDEN/Edfacts many many times (not as crazycrawfish) and never got a single response. The Feds either don’t care or know and are afraid to do anything that might shine negatively on their rising star. (I also have a number of other letters and documents that have been sent to the Feds in regards to Louisiana’s subterfuge in adhering to NCLB and accountability and they have likewise been met with silence. I will reveal some of those later.)

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to two schools that have never been documented outside of Iberville Parish, except in favorable news articles.

Link on Iberville’s site to “Official” Website

http://iberville.la.schoolwebpages.com/education/school/school.php?sectionid=1534

Welcome to the Math, Science and Arts Academy

Home of the Knights

Click Here for our Official Website

57955 St. Louis Rd.

Plaquemine, LA 70764

MSAW   Orientation Presentations(Note: Presentations are Large File Size – High Bandwidth   Connection Suggested to View)

1300+ students listed in this story from the advocate at just ONE of the campuses. .. this district only has 4400 students!

http://theadvocate.com/news/2809452-123/iberville-schools-celebrate-expansion

By Terry L. Jones

Westside bureau

June 23, 2012

PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School System on Friday marked a major expansion of its Math, Science and Arts Academy-West campus with opening ceremonies for its $2.4 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Math learning center.

The new 11,000-square-foot center took a little more than a year to construct and adds five additional classrooms to the academy, one of them a fully equipped chemistry laboratory, project manager Patrick Norris said.

“It’s designed to be energy efficient,” Norris said.

Officials said the kindergarten through 12th-grade college preparatory academy has “blossomed” since it was established in 2008 on land the Gay family donated to the school system.

The Rev. Karen Gay, who blessed the new STEM Center during the ceremony, said she never thought there would be a day when she’d get lost roaming around the school.

The STEM Center is the fourth phase of the academy’s ongoing construction, said Ed Cancienne, superintendent of Iberville Parish public schools.

Cancienne said further phases call for renovating the academy’s front entrance and construction of a performance arts center.

Elvis Cavalier, chief academic officer for the school system, said some 1,370 students are enrolled at MSA-West Academy, including many who also attend classes at Louisiana State University.

LSU Chancellor Michael Martin, who was among several officials and faculty members from the university attending the event, offered encouragement to the students and took a tour of the new STEM building.

of Education, told the audience that LSU College of Education majors would assist Iberville’s college preparatory academies by providing “innovative” teaching experiences through field training programs such as internships, tutoring and student teaching.

Martin said the academy is a great example of the kind of partnership the state’s flagship university should have with a local school district.

“Others ought to come and see what’s been done here,” Martin said. “Whether it’s LSU or other universities in the state, these kinds of linkages serve the students well. The kids will succeed and they’ll succeed because they have a wonderful, powerful start here.”

East websites

http://www.ibervillemsaeast.com/MSA_East/Home.html

http://iberville.la.schoolwebpages.com/education/school/school.php?sectionid=1533

Welcome to the

                       

We have a new website. Please visit us by clicking on or copying and pasting the following link in your browser.

http://www.ibervillemsaeast.com/MSA_East/Home.html

School Hours

K-5 – 8:24-3:30

6-12 – 7:24-2:30

School History

The Iberville Mathematics, Science and Arts Academy – East opened its doors in August 2008 on the grounds of the St. Gabriel Community Center. It began with six classrooms in temporary buildings as well as a few of the Community Center’s facilities. Now the East Academy is housed in its own beautiful new campus, serving students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Why Attend the MSA Academy?

  1. -Innovative teaching with smaller class sizes in grades 7-12
  2. -Technology-rich environment
  3. -One-to-one laptop initiative
  4. -Smart boards in every classroom
  5. -State-of-the-art science labs
  6. -Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment (DE) credit courses for 11th and 12th grade
  7. -Project- and challenge-based learning, problem-solving, and critical thinking
  8. -Safe, positive environment with few discipline problems
  9. -Faculty focused on excellence
  10. -Alliances with LSU, ULM, and other universities
  11. -Unique activities and field trips

Administration

Director

Charles Johnson

Dean of Students

Susan Schlecht

Guidance

Master Teachers

Rob Howle

Office Staff

Administrative Assistant

Carondalette Stewart

Bookkeeping

Nurse

Campus Staff

Maintenance

Food Service

Elementary School Faculty

Kindergarten

Laura LaSalle

Emily Mizell

First Grade

Tarmecia Jolla

Second Grade

Mary Grace Beavers

Third Grade

Mandy Goodwin

Kellye Carville

Fourth/Fifth Grade

Katie Dicharry

Leafreedya Smith

Middle/High School Faculty

Alison Adams

Ron Allen

Latonya Broussard

Danielle Butcher

Mary Ellen Day

Rebecca Denton

Jill Edenfield

Joanne Griffin

Terrie Hasten

Stacey Jackson

Jackie Lodge

Maurice Miles

Sara O’Neal

Rebecca Adams Polk

Tracey Martin Warren

Andrew Wyly

Drew Zeringue

State Rankings of schools by district (from LDOE website)  Look up Iberville and notice what’s missing.

http://www.louisianaschools.net/resources/community/my_schools.aspx

Some press releases about these schools. . .

IPSBPRessRelease-03-24-2011

IPSBNewsAndPressReleaseNewSchoolUnderwayInStGabriel

a report about the parish from the state’s website

From a 2009 press release posted to Iberville’s site.

From LDOE’s school directory

Just one of these shadow schools was reported by the advocate to house over 1300 students in a district of 4487 and most of thier schools are still listed as “D” schools.  How terrible must those other schools be?????

FYI

I have dated emails from and referring to the people i mentioned also including the names of numerous other LDOE personnel (I’m such a packrat). It would be shame if I had to produce those and embarrass all of those people. I would imagine if someone were to make an e-mail FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request based on the headings on some of these e-mails they would discover more of the motivations behind abetting this district’s subterfuge. Just a thought. . . I also have some other neat pieces of info I will produce later (did you know this district actually created and produced and published their very own test scores for these “schools” and compared their results to state averages? Neat huh!)

These scores are amde all the more impressive because the school listed doesn’t officially exist. . . Except to parents in Iberville Parish

Iberville maintains two sets of books for their schools.  One set of books they use for internal tracking, scheduling and maintenance, and another set gets sent to the Louisiana Department of Education and from there to the US Department of Education.

Another interesting article.  I wonder how this group knew of this school down to the demographics and achievement level to qualify for an award since only Iberville knows of its existence?

http://www.nbc33tv.com/news/local-school-receives-top-magnet-school-honors

Incidentally LDOE knows all about these documents and has pretended to turn a blind eye to the situation. As long as  district supports their initiatives publicly, and shows improvement, even if fraudulent and fictitious, they don’t care as it serves their purpose.  There are many blind eyes at LDOE right now, and I will show you what they refuse to see or attend to in the weeks that follow.

How can you trust anything that comes out of an education agency that doesn’t even care if people report their schools?

How can a system as complicated as Value Added be even remotely credible when we don’t even know where the kids are, let alone who’s giving them tests or what they are scoring?

Can anything that comes out of LDOE be credible with such a known failing as allowing districts to report students to whatever schools boost their test scores, by keeping some of the better schools off the books and in the shadows?

I could prove scores of more deceitful situations just like this, but LDOE will not release any data because they know what they have is utter crap.  They even laid off or drove off all of their data collection people. . .  Why collect real data when you can report data that punishes your enemies and rewards your friends and validates your theories?

Until John White and his band of juvenile TFA delinquents are evicted from our education standings will sink not just to last in the US, but last in the world.  That’s the world-class education system we are in for folks!  If you can’t reach for the top, jump to the bottom.  John White is bringing us there with both feet. . . and once he has achieved his goals he will be gone and we will be left with exactly what we asked for. . . a world-class disrespected laughing-stock of an education system.

Louisiana Believes!