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It was Hailed as the National Model for School Reform. Then the Scandals Hit.

Michelle Rhee was new to town. It was 2007, she had just been named to run the District’s public schools, and she had an alluringly simple message about what it would take to transform a system known for crumbling buildings, chaotic classrooms and students who graduated without being able to read.

She would use data. It was a new era of accountability, she promised, and numbers would reveal whether teachers were effective and students were learning. Data would tell the truth.

Yet a cascade of D.C. school scandals in recent months has shown that data can sometimes mislead.