State Malfeasance at Carver (and Everywhere Else)

The Virginia Board of Education’s concern for the effect of institutional cheating on the Carver students only applies to a fraction of those students.  And it does not apply to students affected by cheating elsewhere.

Following its investigation of the institutional cheating at Richmond’s George Washing Carver Elementary School this spring, the Department of “Education” wrote a thirty-three page report

Perhaps the most devastating feature of the report was the analysis of the effect of the past cheating upon the Carver students who went on to middle school.  Two graphs show the impact reaching back to the cohort of students who were in the fifth grade at Carver in 2016:

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As we might expect, kids who were not doing well at Carver were told they were wonderful; then they bombed out in middle school.  This has been going on since at least 2016, and probably since 2014.

Section V. of the report says that RPS “must” implement a set of seven “actions.”  The two actions relating to help for the affected students are:

1. By Friday, September 21, 2018, RPS division-level staff will develop: 1) a plan to evaluate whether additional instructional supports are necessary for any former GWC ES student entering middle school for the first time in 2018-2019 and 2) a plan to implement any additional instructional supports needed for these students.

2. By Friday, September 21, 2018, RPS division-level staff will develop: 1) a plan to evaluate whether additional instructional supports are necessary for GWC ES students entering the fourth and fifth grade in the 2018-2019 school year and 2) a plan to implement any additional instructional supports needed for these students.

So, Richmond must act to ameliorate the effect of the cheating upon students who were at Carver this year. 

But the Carver students in grade 5 last year and the students of the graphs, who were in grade 5 in 2016, must fend for themselves.

And, looking at the graphs, the cheating was rampant in 2015 and ramping up in 2014.  But the Board of “Education” is indifferent to the effect on the fifth graders of those years.

As well, the report shows an analogous impact on Carver students who transferred to other elementary schools.  But those students, also, must fend for themselves.

The Carver outrage was not the first such incident.  There was an institutional cheating scandal at Oak Grove in 2005.  There was another at Petersburg’s A.P. Hill in 2017. 

We now see that the Board of “Education” has had a simple tool for spotting and – if the analysis were known to be in use – for preventing such cheating.

But the Board has not used this simple analysis in the past and it shows no inclination toward a general deployment now.

It is hard to know what is most outrageous:

  • This official decision to ignore the effect of the cheating on so many students;
  • The failure of the Board of “Education,” to have been conducting that cohort study every year to catch – and, even more to the point, to prevent – this kind of cheating; or
  • The failure of the Board of “Education,” to institute an annual, general cohort study going forward, primarily to prevent another such abuse of Virginia schoolchildren.

Ah, well: $98.2 million of your tax money at “work.”