D.C. test cheating: Time to move on?

April 18, 2013

Council Member David Catania’s hearing Thursday is expected to focus more on the future than the past. But many aren’t so willing to move on. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Can the District’s standardized testing regime be trusted? That question gets a public airing today at the D.C. Council, where David A. Catania (I-At Large) will hold a hearing on a bill he has introduced that would make cheating on high-stakes tests illegal for the first time. The Post editorial board argues that Catania’s prospective approach is wiser than relitigating the accusations of widespread cheating during the Michelle Rhee era: “Opponents of school reform seize on any allegation of cheating — clearly the exception and not the rule for educators dedicated to getting students to learn — as an argument to eliminate standardized testing.” That, they say, is “wrong-headed thinking.” Another council member, Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) is not so ready to let bygones be bygones. After the release of a 2009 memo warning DCPS brass about a possible cheating epidemic, he continues to press Inspector General Charles Willoughby on why he didn’t do more than investigate one school, conclude nothing criminal was amiss and move on. The memo’s disclosure, McDuffie tells Willoughby, “creates doubt that your investigation thoroughly and expansively examined the allegations.”

In other news:

“There is no war on cars. There is no public official who wants to take away your old Camry. There is no proposal to force you to ride the Metro or bus. There is no gang of cyclists scheming to expand bike lanes until they consume the whole road. There is no plot, no conspiracy, no plan, no war.” (City Paper)

Most city employees will get 3 percent yearly raises through 2016, Mayor Vincent Gray announced (PostWRC-TV)

Police union chief: Gray is “willing to use taxpayer dollars to make sure that certain groups are supporting him” (Examiner)

CBE reporting on city development projects is spotty at best (WaTimes)

Vince Gray, Rock Newman and a presidential yacht (Loose Lips)

Catania is raising private funds to hire Hogan Lovells lawyers to write school reform legislation (Post)

Parents and activists line up to poke holes in proposed DCPS budget (PostExaminer)

Study from pro-charter foundation says charter schools are getting shortchanged (PostExaminer)

Budget autonomy campaign poses a bit of a marketing challenge to voting-rights activists (Post)

Elissa Silverman gets the Washington City Paper endorsement (City Paper)

U.S. Institute of Peace to DDOT: Could you move Constitution Avenue for us, please? (WRC-TV)

Patrick Mara should get your vote, says pro-small-biz columnist (Blade)

Meanwhile, pro-biz PAC goes to work for Mara by slamming Silverman (DCist)

“Anita Bonds, Leader of D.C. Council Contenders” (Afro)

Matthew Frumin, who makes a lot more money than Silverman, is second candidate to release 2012 tax returns (Post)

Mara and Frumin float between Hill and Wilson Building spheres (Roll Call)

All council candidates support decriminalizing marijuana possession (Examiner)

Filmfest DC could be victim of UDC budget cuts (Post)

Arizona congressman says he’ll reintroduce “pain-capable” abortion ban bill (The Hill)

Kwame Brown has a second travel request denied (Post)

A new way of exploring D.C. campaign finance data (Sunlight FoundationHousing Complex)

Mary Cheh to critics of residential “large tract review” proposal: Relax (UrbanTurf)

Verizon and People’s Counsel are at war over telephone network upkeep (WBJ)

Federal testing of the District’s health insurance exchange is underway (WBJ)

Family Court litigants need more lawyers, report finds (Legal Times)

Kids Count counts kids, finds more of them (DCist)

No increase in D.C. meningitis cases despite epidemic in gay communities elsewhere (Blade)

Do DCPS cheating allegations threaten confidence in the system? (GGW)

Another temporary playspace for the Nationals Park environs (WBJ)

Judge declines to back WPFW-FM move to Silver Spring (Arts Desk)

Tuesday night shooting on Brentwood Road (WaTimes)

Another body pulled from city waterway — this time near Key Bridge (Post)

Rare mask-wearing charge for alleged street robber (WaTimes)

Yeah, the L’Enfant Metro station is a bit of a cluster (PoPville)

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · April 17, 2013