The lead author of the 1995 UMBC report that analyzed the performance of the Tesseract schools recently wrote the following comment on my website on February 12, 2011 at 11:58 am:
“I was the principal investigator for the study cited by Guy Brandenburg and referenced in the Washington Post, and, yes, he has correctly presented the information therein (converting NCE scores to percentiles) and come to the appropriate conclusion that one teacher’s “90+ percentile scores” of the estimated four third-grade classrooms would have led to a higher grade average. We were evaluating the Tesseract program as a whole rather than school results by classroom, so CTBS scores available to us were not disaggregated by teacher.”
Contacted by me via a phone call for confirmation, the retired PhD researcher told me that she found it interesting that Michelle Rhee had been claiming such enormous (and unlikely) success at Harlem Park, and that she was very pleased that, at long last, people had actually begun reading the report that she and her colleagues put together. She said that back in 1995, her report had been almost completely ignored: “it fell like a stone in the water at the time.”
She also told me why there were no MSPAP scores for 1994-5 in the report: simply, that those scores would only get reported out in about October or November, but the UMBC Center for Educational Research organization that got the contract to do the report, wrote and published theirs in September of 1995. Furthermore, in 1995-6, the city of Baltimore stopped giving the CTBS and changed to a different test.
She explained to me the significance of a “1” score – which meant a student didn’t bother to fill in any answers at all, and confirmed what I remembered from that era, which is that during testing week, principals and counselors often would make arrangements to subtly discourage low-performing students from coming to school. (I also recall such students being sent to classrooms where they would watch movies, have parties, do art projects, and so on.)
Asked point-blank whether she thought my conclusions were correct, she said, “Yes.” Giving me permission to quote, she went on to say this:
“You drew, in a fair way, the conclusions that could be drawn from the information in the report, which came from the Baltimore City public tables.”
Furthermore, she added, “I don’t know how you’ll fare up against the American Enterprise Institute, but go for it!”