Putting our ideas of assessment to the test


District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee
District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee (AP photo)


In early September, in what was widely viewed as a repudiation of Rhee’s methods, D.C. voters chose city council chairman Vincent Gray over incumbent Adrian Fenty in the city’s mayoral primary election. Rhee had campaigned for Fenty, and his loss puts her tenure as chancellor of the city’s schools in jeopardy.

Rhee, who called the election results “devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C.,” encouraged school reformers to learn from the election and “be more aggressive and more adamant.”

I’d point to a different lesson in Fenty’s defeat. City educators are upset that the teacher evaluation system that landed D.C. a federal Race to the Top grant was created without their input—unlike, say, the systems being developed in states like Florida, New York, and Rhode Island, where teachers have been given a role in discussions.

Creativity, innovation, collaboration, empathy: These aren’t just important skills for today’s students to learn—they’re also key traits for would-be reformers.

Dennis Pierce

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