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BUS 605 Leadership

Published : 04-Oct,2021  |  Views : 10


It appears that many teachers and principals in the DC School System responded to pressures to improve student test scores by teaching “to the test i.e. teaching only those topics that they thought would appear on the test and ignoring other topics that should also have been covered, as well as teaching students how to pass a test instead of teaching them how to learn for the long term.

1. Do you believe that teaching to the test is unethical? If yes, explain why. If not, explain why not. Perform an ethical analysis of this action to justify your answer.

2. Do you believe that as Chancellor of the DC School System, Michelle Rhee bears any responsibility for teachers decision to teach to the test? Explain why or why not. What could Michelle Rhee have done to prevent teaching to the test?

3. Thinking back to our discussion of emotional intelligence (EI) competencies, based on the depiction of Michelle Rhee's actions, decisions, views and attitudes in the documentary, identify the EI competencies that you think are her strengths and the EI competencies where you think that she is lacking or weak? Justify your answers with specific examples from the documentary.



An organization or any other establishment cannot hope to be successful unless the people are led by an effective leader who can propel the company or organization towards success. An effective leader does not simply tell the colleagues to achieve something: they work along with the team members to make sure those goals are attained and everyone has taken part in it.

The process of becoming a good leader starts at the very beginning of life: in school, where the children learn about how to work as a member of a group. To be a team worker, a person must be compassionate and understanding of others perspective and consider everyone’s opinions. While schools are the basis of all learning and knowledge, it must be made sure that the students are given as much as education as possible; going beyond traditional teaching based on the syllabus and making sure that they are exposed an array of other topics that would enhance their characters. The school system of DC is completely contradictory to this approach. The report would try to give a cohesive idea about the teaching methods of the schools in DC and would try to analyze it in ethical terms to determine if that was the right thing to do.

DC School System before Michelle Rhee

The Chancellor of the DC School System, Michelle Rhee, made it very clear with her new decisions about taking strict and absolute decisions when it came to the staff of the schools that, she will not tolerate low grades. She did deliver on her promise by actually firing principals and teachers from schools because their students did not show a good score card over the years and the overall performance of the schools did were stagnant (Northouse, 2015). This pressure proved to be too much for many schools and teachers. The teachers, to tackle this pressure started to teach the students only the subjects that the teachers were being judged on the basis of the scores. The began to give lessons that they thought would be appearing on the examinations and ignored every other lessons. This prevented the students to learn for the long term and their knowledge became very limited in every sense of the word. The teachers ignored and overlooked a lot of subjects and topics that should have been taught to the students.

Why was the teaching to test implemented by the teachers

The plan of Rhee to shake up the entire school system worked initially, but backfired in a deeper level that was not apparent in the beginning, but when the effects of the whole scene had been unearthed, the biggest drawback of the renovation plan became clear. The particular teaching method was dubbed “teaching to the test” (Dinh et al., 2014). This meant teaching only the topics and covering the outline of the entire syllabus or the topics that the teachers thought were sure to come in the examinations. This hollow system of education ultimately harmed the learning of the students significantly.

The plan of Rhee was to have a clear understanding of the schools’ teaching process and then embark on an extensive cleansing process. She identified the teachers who had performed poorly and fired them without hesitation (Rhee, 2013). Even though this idea was a noble one, the implementation was somewhat flawed. The teachers were not given a cohesive idea about what was going on. The teachers were all judged based on the overall school results for the past ten years and evert teacher was graded based on the scores of the students after that particular teacher was appointed by the school authority (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Despite a few exceptions, where not only the score of the students were considered, but also the environment was noticed to understand what challenges were faced by the teachers while teaching the students, most of the teachers were graded based on results of the students.

The question of ethics

It was undoubtedly very unethical for the teachers to act in the way they did. To teach the students only selective topics, which, they deemed to be important, is absolutely wrong. Even then, it must be understood that the teachers acted out in such a manner simply because they witnessed the harsh actions of the Chancellor (Kretchmar, Sondel & Ferrare, 2014). However, nothing justifies tampering with the education process in such a fashion that would, in turn, hamper the knowledge of the students.

Responsibility of Rhee

Even though Rhee had success in improving the scores of the students, the vital aspect that was missed was the fact that these scores improved only in some of the subjects. English and mathematics were the two prime subjects on which the teachers’ performances were being judged. Surely enough, the teachers focused on these two particular subjects and the scores of the students did reflect a positive result. The teachers resorted to the test teaching simply because Rhee was known to be strict and the teachers knew that they would not be given a second chance if she decided the teachers were not up to the level (Walther-Thomas, 2016). The teachers, naturally, harnessed all their efficiency to make sure their students excelled in these two subjects. Rhee fired a number of teachers and principals who she thought were not doing a good enough job. These invariably instilled fear among the teachers and they did everything they could make sure their jobs remained.

Despite the radical and swift actions of Rhee did produce results, the positive aspects were harnessed at the expense of educational degradation of the students (Osborne, 2015). To prevent this, Rhee could have been somewhat more considerate and given the teachers more time to adapt and evolve according to the new standards that she had set regarding the scores. Instead, she acted in little impulsive way.


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the ideas and the motive of Chancellor Rhee were pious and aimed towards the betterment of the students’ scores, and not particularly concerned about their knowledge. The Chancellor and her team should have been more thoughtful and considerate about how to improve the overall learning of the students and not just their scores in particular subjects.


Dinh, J. E., Lord, R. G., Gardner, W. L., Meuser, J. D., Liden, R. C., & Hu, J. (2014). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 36-62.

Kretchmar, K., Sondel, B., & Ferrare, J. J. (2014). Mapping the terrain: Teach For America, charter school reform, and corporate sponsorship. Journal of Education Policy, 29(6), 742-759.

Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2015). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development. Nelson Education.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage publications.

Osborne, D. (2015). A Tale of Two Systems: Education Reform in Washington DC. Progressive Policy Institute.

Rhee, M. (2013). Radical: Fighting to put students first. Harper Collins.

Walther-Thomas, C. (2016). School improvement and teacher leadership: building stronger learning communities. Australian Educational Leader, 38(1), 16.

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