When Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee met with reporters last week to tout the District's improved math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) , she did it with a nod to her predecessor, Clifford Janey. It was under Janey, who was dismissed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty after Fenty took control of the public school system in 2007, that the six year rise in NAEP scores began.
In Janey's view, the shout-out wasn't necessary.
"The Janey footprint is there and it needs no excavation to be seen," he said in a phone interview last week from his office in Newark, N.J., where he has served as superintendent of schools since mid-2008. "Those in-the-know, know. I don't need affirmation to know we made some incredible acts of transformation in Washington D.C. over a short period of time that is evidenced now much more publicly through the NAEP."
Janey said that one of his first tasks after he came to the District in 2004 was to find a new standardized test to replace the Stanford 9, which he said lacked rigor.
"The first thing I did in he first month of my tenure was organize a group of teachers, administrators and community advocates and members of the business community," Janey said. "I tasked them to research the very best content standards and curriculum frameworks at the state level and to see who was making faster improvement on the NAEP."
One of the three states the group recommended was Massachusetts. Janey chose that state's standardized test, the MCAS, as a model because it was more challenging than the mostly multiple choice Stanford 9, requiring short written answers.
"I chose Massachusetts because not only were the curriculum standards aligned to the NAEP, but the state assessment [the MCAS] was as well," he said. It led to the development of the DC-CAS.
Janey called it "the fundamental dirtywork of reformation."
He's got plenty of dirty work to do in Newark, where the 40,000-student system has been under state control since 1995. Should the state eventually return control to the local level, Janey could face the same situation that led to his demise in D.C. : a mayor (Cory Booker) intent on leveraging more control over the system.
In the meantime, he's drawn praise for reaching out to parents, students and teachers' union leaders. He said he is working on a plan that would put extra money in the budgets of successful schools in exchange for coupling with low-performing schools to help to raise achievement through teacher mentoring and other ventures.
Janey said still keeps a home in the District's Embassy Row neighborhood, not because of any longing to return to D.C., but as "an investment."
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