Revisionist History at Work

Students Need Stable District Leadership is an article at the website, District Administration, about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.  It was written by Tom Payzant, a professor "of practice" at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and the former head of Boston Public Schools and he is apparently someone who likes to talk about things he isn't well-versed in or he just likes to leave things out.
To wit, his article where he basically says the Seattle School Board did everything wrong.  Let's see:
  • He gives some stats about student achievement that I find hard to believe because if true, she would have shouted it from the rooftops.  Seattle students not only improved in reading and math at nearly every school level...  I won't reprint it all here but it starts after the break in the article for the ad for District Administration Daily.  I find it mystifying unless you look at it from doing better than other districts in the state and other urban districts. 
  • you cannot get significantly better student results without making significant changes in organizational direction.  No, and you can't get better results unless teacher support you.
  •  The onus, is of course on the superintendent to communicate their rationale for charting a specific course so that the community, the staff and the board can independently judge the logic behind particular goals and strategies and evaluate progress.  Yes, and she didn't do this in spades (see the Seattle Channel forum if you don't believe it).
  • However, in the end, the Seattle school board unfortunately succumbed to pressure from constituents opposed to reforms, publicly resting its decision to ask Dr. Goodloe-Johnson to leave on the fact that a mid-level staffer had committed what was clearly fraud. That employee resigned, as did their direct supervisor, and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson took immediate measures to correct the situation. The question for school board members nationwide is whether a circumstance like this warrants removing a superintendent that stands out nationally for raising student achievement far faster and higher than other big city districts.   It seems to me the Board didn't even give itself time to be pressured. Mr. Payzant is woefully ignorant of all of her shortcomings to our district.  
Which brings us to Lynne Varner at the Times who writes "In defense of Maria Goodloe-Johnson."  Okay, Lynne, what say you?

She points out Professor Payzant's point about firing MGJ too soon but then says:

(Payzant doesn't mention the superintendent's obvious failings as a communicator or a leader presiding over an environment of lax oversight and bureacratic inertia.) 

But again we get this "she was doing great with student achievement" stuff.  Did we all miss something?  He is saying, in rather tortured detail, "that the degree to which Seattle rose above performance levels statistically expected of it given its high poverty levels, under Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s leadership, the district bested other large urban districts nationwide."

Lynne says the comparisons may be pointless.  A child learning to read or count doesn't care about the foot race as much as the adults.

She also admits this Payzant piece was forwarded to her by someone at the Broad Foundation (still trying to prop her up, guys?).  

No one is saying that everything Dr. Goodloe-Johnson did was wrong or wasn't towards better student achievement.  Oh but her methods, the costs, her attitude and her hubris are what ultimately undid her and her legacy.


Face saving Broad measure said…
Strikes me as a piece to save Broad graduates.

Too bad there wasn't a comment section.
Greg Linden said…
I'm confused about where Tom Payzant got his data from. Can someone point me to the data that he is referring to?

I was looking at the district scorecard at

but that does not appear to be what he is referring to when he said, "Ccomparing Seattle's student achievement in 2009 to student levels in 2007 when she arrived, Seattle students not only improved in reading and math at nearly every school level," since it shows declines at the 10th grade level and mixed performance with some gains at other levels for the time period in question.

Tom didn't cite his references, so I am not sure where to get the source data. Anyone know what data he is using?
Sahila said…
Broadie Toadie Payzant (who doesnt disclose his affiliations) airbrushing Evicted Seattle Superintendent's so-called achievements... blaming her demise on a spineless board, the union and 'misguided' parents who dont understand the need for deform.... ugh... and notice the "industry sponsored solutions" piece in the link descriptor!!!

what more do we need to convince us that this ed deform agenda is about privatisation and MONEY... milking the last of out ($600Billion/year) out of public education....

and notice the bit where he describes his time as a super - mayoral control, and a mayoral-appointed board, that could stay in place, intact, for as much as 8 years....

and the disdain for parents!!!!
cascade said…
Tom says "She produced remarkable student gains in Seattle in the last few years."

Really? Show me the data, Tom. Or Alliance. Or Broad. Or Gates. You can't, because it isn't true. Couple of modest gains. Most scores -- which I don't trust anyhow -- flat or rising at statistically insignificant rates. Or declining. Yes, declining!!!

Greg Linden (above) points to the exact same scorecard I just referenced. The story is not pretty.

In addition, she was his protege. So not surprising that not one whit of the superintendent's extremely poor management style and questionable skills are on display in his Broad apologist piece.
Greg Linden said…
I went ahead wrote Tom Payzant to ask him for a citation for that claim. If it is true, I am not aware of it, so I thought it would be good to follow up.
mirmac1 said…
I see from his c.v. he taught a whole two years in the early sixties...then onto a career in administration. I say if you can't teach, manage!
David said…
For all Maria Goodloe-Johnson talked about accountability, she sure is working hard to avoid any for herself.
Anonymous said…
Aimed at a broader national audience, and considering the likelihood that few in that audience will get a more thorough idea of what MJG "achieved" while in Seattle, Mr. Payzant can extend the spin by pointing to "college readiness" as the measure of her achievement. From a low of 17%, increasing to 46%, and elevating even higher to 63% (granted this only became known after her unfortunate and misguided dismissal) Cynical? Yes. Ingenious? Yes. Mr Payzant does not have to care what actually happened. It's all about the story you tell.

Angela Pascopella is the editor at District Administration who likely oversaw this piece. I'm sending her a complaint about this piece.

Here's her e-mail:

Her bio brief says she's an 18 year veteran of journalism covering education. She should know better.
Anonymous said…
from the article:
However, in the end, the Seattle school board unfortunately succumbed to pressure from constituents opposed to reforms, publicly resting its decision to ask Dr. Goodloe-Johnson to leave on the fact that a mid-level staffer had committed what was clearly fraud. That employee resigned, as did their direct supervisor, and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson took immediate measures to correct the situation.

i didnt realize she took immediate action to correct the situation! Both "SP and FS" resigned, Not Fired as they should have been. the Statement makes one think they were fired:(

I agree with Anonymous, this article was for a wider Audience who most likely has no idea what really occurred here at SPS. He was saving her for her next Sup Position, or, for her position at the Dept of ED, working for Arne.

mirmac1 said…
I think this thread deserves the "bullshit" tag.
Anonymous said…
sorry i mispoke! i should have previewed.

the article did say resigned, but i was wondering what action she took?
Anonymous said…
Maybe we could get Charlie to do a satirical rebuttal complete with la, la numbers, Silas Potter, and send if off to Jon Stewart so he can air it.

---My 8PM viewing fantasy
Anonymous said…
Wow. District Administration magazine doesn't care what it publishes at all.

I'm appalled, obviously, by all the lies, but I am a little amused that the whole thing is a lie.

Sure, I'd expect Thomas Payzant to misrepresent why and how Maria Goodloe-Johnson was pushed out, but the making up bald-faced lies about achievement data that can easily be looked up is, to put it mildly, gutsy. The guy apparently cares for his reputation not at all.

Best part -- when he states that Seattle public schools have a higher rate of poverty that the state as a whole. The truth? Free and reduced lunch rates in Washington state 42.3%, free and reduced lunch rates in Seattle public schools 42.4%

I guess if you're already making stuff up, why get anything right?

Come on, Payzant, put just a little bit of effort into your fiction. What a hack.

- Bird
Patrick said…
The action MGJ took when the fraud and her coverup was discovered was catching the next flight out of town!
someone said…
Wondering if perhaps this is where his data came from?

Data Profile
District Summary
December 2009
From the comments from the Seattle Times:

"I asked Tom Payzant to cite the source of his test scores and he replied via email that the Broad Foundation has the data, he does not.

A Broad spokeswoman said the data comes from publcly available data run through an analysis conducted by MPR Associates (based in Berkeley, Calif.) comparing student achievement in 100 of the nation’s large urban school districts, 2) publicly available data run through an analysis we (The Broad Foundation) run each year to track student progress under graduates of The Broad Superintendents Academy (of which Maria Goodloe-Johnson is a graduate). Seattle’s outcomes in the last couple years on both of these national analyses are impressive (versus gains made in other large urban districts)."

Funny how if this is how the data came out for Broad, that SPS didn't crow about it. I'm thinking what is really true is that the OTHER districts did so poorly, SPS looks great by comparison. I also do not believe that SPS did better across the grade levels.
Lori said…
Funny how if this is how the data came out for Broad, that SPS didn't crow about it.

Exactly! If she accomplished all these miraculous results, how come folks here on this blog don't know about it? Why wouldn't SPS have been announcing in every way possible the successes that had occurred in just 3 short years?

And remember that last raise MGJ got? Wasn't it for meeting only 5 out of 20 standards that were related to student achievement? So the measures that SPS identified as most important and most under the influence of the Super did not show her efforts paying off (yet, which was her excuse, just needed more time). But in this article, apparently, any way you slice the data, MGJ achieved awesome outcomes. I guess she just wasn't bright enough to use the right metrics in her own performance evaluation!
Maureen said…
I wonder how the results are organized. For instance, do they count the changes at Thurgood Marshall, CHS, etc as academic improvement? Are they looking at student level or school level data?
seattle citizen said…
So Tom Payzant (Broad Academy graduate, Broad mentor for the Broad Superintendent, Broad "trainer" for the board) did the evaluation of the Broad superintendent using Broad data that is, in effect, inaccessible to the public?

Each board member has to be asked, under oath and subject to prosecution if commiting perjury, a) to identify every aspect of Broad influence, communication, or any other Broad connection to the district that they are aware of; b)identify any Broad connections they are aware of between Broad, district, city, state, nation, other "coalitions, leagues, alliances, advisories, foundations," etc; c) which politicians at all levels do they know are "selling" Broad agendas; and d)which aspects of the Broad agenda points do they agree with, disagree with, and why.

Then they should be asked the same quesitons about Gates.
Jan said…
And -- if we had done so well, (1) how does that play into the 17% ready for college numbers that were so widely tossed around, and (2) since we were already so highly achieving -- why did we need all the stuff she was cramming down our throats THIS year (TFA, science alignment, etc., etc.)

My guess is -- because the "impressive gains" are bogus and don't exist.
MAPsucks said…
Gee, I wonder if NWEA is Broad's personal national database source? Their "Growth Research Database" is only supposed to be available for "legitimate educational research purposes". The contract's Schedule B says NWEA will only share it with approved researchers that "uphold the same confidentiality guidelines" as NWEA. These "legitimate" parties agree not to release school or district names without "express written consent" of the school district.

Was this MGJ's last act? Giving consent for a public relations with "tailored comparisons of a district's students in relation to groups of students that share similar performance and demographic characteristics."

Good to see our money put to use for these purposes.

Methinks MPR deserves some research.
MAPsucks said…
Off MPR's website:

Evaluating school district results for the Broad Prize
Each year, MPR helps selection committees choose the winners of the $2 million Broad Prize for Urban Education. The Broad Prize recognizes large, urban school districts that improve overall student performance while reducing achievement gaps for low-income and minority students. MPR prepares comprehensive reports for each of the 100 eligible districts that analyze data from all school districts in 40 states to provide comparisons across districts. Learn more about The Broad Prize. See the report for the 2010 winner, analysis and design by MPR.

Good to see more consultants and "non-profits" are making money off data-mining and education reform.
MAPsucks said…
My bad. MPR uses NCES data, but the report for the 2010 winner has this caveat:

Important Note Regarding State Test Data
Because states establish their own assessment and proficiency standards, districts’ performance on state tests cannot be directly compared across states. To provide context for these data, summary tables containing information on state performance on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the 2009 NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA ), and a 2006 Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) proficiency-standards mapping study are available online at but are not included in this data report.

Dang, I guess MGJ won't be getting the $2M prize even though her results were so all-fired great.
MAPsucks said…
That's funny, according to this relatively recent brief, Seattle didn't make the cut (except for improvements for hispanic students [as long as they're not ELL, I'll bet])

The methodology used is described in detail here:
MAPsucks said…
Actually, take a look at page 3 of Seattle's Broad data. I'd say we're pretty much flat-lined.
Charlie Mas said…
Hey, maybe Mr. Payzant relied on the Colorado Growth Model and saw that 65% of Seattle students in every grade made gains on state tests.
wsnorth said…
Maybe he meant "unstable leadership" - that appears to more closely resemble what we have had the past several years!
none1111 said…
Charlie said: "Hey, maybe Mr. Payzant relied on the Colorado Growth Model and saw that 65% of Seattle students in every grade made gains on state tests."

Hahahahahaha! Best laugh of the evening, thanks!

After looking over boatloads of tables in those MPR reports, I fail to see where Mr. Payzant is finding these amazing gains. Neither the numbers nor trends are worth bragging about. In fact, many of them are embarrassing.
MAPsucks said…
we agree?! Hallelujah, I'm not having flashbacks from college.
none1111 said…
LOL. Just because I don't take your full-scale hard line stance against all aspects of MAP doesn't necessarily mean we can't share similar views on other topics!

I have no problem calling bullshit where I see bullshit. And the district is way too full of cronyism and dishonesty for my taste. Actually, it goes way beyond this district, as we see here with Mr. Payzant's ridiculous article.

Unlike Dan though, I'm still hopeful that the changes in leadership (and some external oversight) will help get us back on a better path. At least I'm willing to give the new guard a chance.
Charlie Mas said…
I have had a very nice email exchange with Ms Pascopella in which I - courteously and respectfully - pointed out a number of Mr. Payzant's false statements, logical errors, and conflicts of interest.

She asked permission to include my email in the Letters section of the next issue and I granted it.
MAPsucks said…

I am also giving the new Supt a chance (notice I don't say mean things about her). What hasn't changed is MAP however. The entire issue requires a do-over. There are superior products out there for less money, resources, and time.

But I digress...
Jan said…
I hate to say it -- but Joanna is right. When the Board extends contracts, compliments the Superintendent in public, approves everything she asks for and is doing -- there is no other conclusion that can be drawn, other than that the Superintendent is doing what the Board wants. And it makes it darn hard then to pull off a firing "for cause" -- which is part of the reason we couldn't, and didn't.

Some of the Board has never seemed enthusiastic about the last administration (Kay and Betty). A couple seem to have come around, or are doing do (Michael and Sherry).

Steve seems clueless to me, and Harium's new total silence leads me to believe that MGJ must have taken the remote control for his unit with her when she left -- or maybe she was in such a hurry that she just didn't teach anyone else how to use it.

We maybe now have a "working" coalition of 4 directors -- 3 of whom are not up for election, and thus are clearly not "reformed" only for the campaign period.

Let's hope they can get something accomplished.
Jan said…
Sorry, the above post was meant for a different thread. Melissa, feel free to delete it above if you want.
Chris S. said…
Oh, Jan, the remote! Thanks for the laugh.
Greg Linden said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

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