StudentsFirst Gives 11 States Failing Grades on Public Education

January 7, 2013

When chancellor of D.C. public schools Michelle Rhee left her job in 2010, she took the policies she’d pushed for in the district — using student results to evaluate teachers, merit pay, restricting tenure policies and expanding charter schools — and made them part of the platform [PDF] of her new organization, StudentsFirst.

Today the advocacy group released a report grading states based on adherence to that platform, giving 11 states failing grades of F. The highest grade any state received was a B-.

“We didn’t say in any way that we want to show people how bad it is,” Rhee told The New York Times. “We wanted to show the progress that is being made, but in places where progress is slower to come, be very clear with leaders of that state what they could do to push the agenda forward and create a better environment in which educators, parents and kids can operate.”

The harsh grades — which were based on state laws and policies and not on student test scores — highlight Rhee’s reputation as a radical, polarizing figure admired by some and reviled by others for her get-tough reform policies.

Tomorrow night FRONTLINE correspondent John Merrow examines Rhee’s legacy in Washington, with unprecedented access to her as she attempted to fix a broken school system. Check your local listings to find out when the film will be broadcast on your local station.

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