"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Reading First Finding 2A: Ignored Peer-Review Process


FINDING 2A – The Department Did Not Follow Its Own Guidance For the Peer Review Process


As we discussed in the earlier OIG Report finding 1B, ED refused to ask questions or to review resumes that would have exposed serious conflicts of interest between crony review panels and the curriculum and instructional endorsements they would offer to State Reading First applicants. Now in 2A we find irrefutable evidence that Doherty and “his assistant” (who would that assistant be?) systematically undercut the peer review process in a number of ways. First, Doherty and his unnamed assistant substituted their own feedback for the review panel comments that were intended to be provided to each state applicant:
After the panel chair submitted the Panel Chair Summaries to the Reading First office, the Reading First Director and his assistant created what they called an “Expert Review Team Report.” This report was provided to the States. No other documents reflecting the expert review panel’s comments were provided to the States. . . . We have not found any documentation that the Department informed panelists that the Reading First Director and his assistant would write the report sent to SEAs[state education agencies]. . . . Likewise, we have not found any documentation that the Department informed States that they would receive a Department-written report rather than the expert review panel’s direct comments.
So what we had then were two review panels, but only one was following the process outlined by the Law. The other one, the one controlled by Doherty and his advisors (Lyon, Carnine, Neuman, et al), simply took what they wanted from the panel reviews, massaged it when necessary, and left out the majority of the rest when it did not fit their instructional, curricular, and product placement agendas. So not only did Doherty and his ED minions put themselves in the place of the official review panelists and Chairs, but they used those opportunities to make deletions or to provide misleading, misstated, inaccurate, and exaggerated renditions of the review panel comments. In some cases, comments were simply manufactured by Doherty and his cohorts. In short, they lied:
According to the Reading First Director, he and his assistant created the Expert Review Team Reports to give States a distilled, organized version of the panel’s comments that would show them which areas they needed to address. However, we found the Department’s Expert Review Team Reports were not always accurate representations of the expert review panelists’ comments. The Reading First Director and his assistant changed panelists’ comments, left off others, and added comments of their own. In a number of cases, the Departmentgeneralized or omitted specific questions or suggestions. In other situations the Department’s Expert Review Team Report exaggerated or misstated the panelists’ concerns (p. 9).
Here’s how Doherty justified his removal of the panel chairs from the conference calls between Reading First and the state applicants:
The Reading First Director stated that “it’s generally been mentioned to the States that they would hear directly from the Panel” but that the Department would “lose a bit of control” and the Panel Chair might say things that would “*complicate* matter [sic]” if included on the conference calls. In an earlier e-mail to the Assistant Secretary for OESE, the Reading First Director stated that “in remarks to groups...or face-to-face meetings about what the Review Panel will/won’t accept the opportunities for BOLDNESS and, perhaps, extralegal requirements are many.” [Emphasis in original.] (p. 9)
As a result of these thug maneuvers, states failed to receive the reviews that the Law intended to guarantee. For instance, Nevada submitted five times before approval; New York, three times; Georgia, three times; Wisconsin, four times; Virginia, three times; North Dakota, five times. What we don’t know is what advice and intimidation these SEAs were receiving from the thugs out in the field for Doherty and his criminal gang. Here is bit of Georgia’s experience:
Georgia submitted its application three times prior to receiving approval. The Department’s Expert Review Team Report [Doherty and the gang] for Georgia’s first submission failed to adequately summarize the subpanel’s comments about instructional assessments and programs. The Department’s Expert Review Team Report included the comment that “the review team expressed great concern that, according to the budget...purchasing materials for classroom libraries is a higher priority than purchasing and implementing core reading program materials.” This comment was not in the Panel Chair Summary. The Department’s Expert Review Team Report for the next submission omitted the subpanel’s request for more information on how the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Learning Skills (DIBELS) assessment could be used for progress monitoring. (P. 10)
Translation: Library books, Bad—scripted curriculum and DIBELS, Good.

Thugs and criminals of the worst sort.

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