Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dallas ISD Teacher Effectiveness Initiative Confusion 12-4-14

Nothing is more directly changing DISD at this time than TEI (Teacher Excellence Initiative) described online at .  The TEI is based on the presumption that teachers are driven by higher salaries.  The linked research on the DISD TEI web site shows it is based on some $200 million in research by the Gates Foundation using student testing to measure teacher performance.  But the Gates Foundation themselves in June recommended delaying the use of tests in the evaluation of teachers.  See

DISD ignored that advice and continued to moved forward with TEI.   DISD parents are seeing the results and groups around Dallas ISD are gathering to complain.

On December 4th was the Board Briefing at which many trustees questioned elements of the testing problems being presented by DISD parents.   If you go to and go down the page to the December 4th briefing, you can see the videotape of the 12-4-14 meeting.   In the left hand column, under the Agenda, you will see the link for the video.  Click on it to load the video.  (My talk, as the only public speaker at this meeting, is 29 minutes into the tape, summarizing many of these issues.)

Go 1 hour and 40 minutes into the tape where a staff presentation titled Teacher Excellence Initiative Update starts.  The 12 slide PowerPoint used in the meeting is on the web site at

As you listen to this presentation and the discussion that follows pay close attention to the level of confusion about TEI.  The discussion goes on for over 2 hours. Does Dallas want such a costly experiment to continue on Dallas children? 
Parents in DISD need to be concerned and willing to sign up and speak at this Thursday’s Board Meeting.

By February 2015 DISD will have lost 6,000 teachers (out of a teacher number that is normally about 10,000) in the 31 months since Miles was hired and turnover accelerated due to changes represented in TEI.  See the data at

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A 20 year old letter writing project in a high school in Canada.

Here is a wonderful video about a teacher with another letter writing project now over 20 years old in Canada.   See

It shows the potential power of the letters our students are writing to themselves.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What damage will Mike Miles leave behind in Dallas ISD?

Dallas ISD rarely deteriorates enough during the tenure of a superintendent to generate significant news coverage of that damage as a superintendent leaves.  That will change when Mike Miles leaves!

An article from Colorado dated April 5, 2012 started that discussion in Colorado when Mike Miles' leaving Harrison School District Two to move to Dallas was announced. They printed the following:
Has he (Mr. Mike Miles) been worth that much? ($260,000 annually)  Probably not. District 2 should be in the middle, not at the top, in executive-level compensation.
D-2's board has a chance to rectify that now. It also can re-evaluate Miles' methods, especially the teacher evaluations and whether D-2 might have discarded low-performing students to help overall test scores.
In Harrison School District Two there was ultimately no re-evaluation. The changes Mike Miles instituted remained. Teacher turnover is still now over 30%.   The shrinking 12th grade enrollment has stayed down in Harrison since the 33% reduction in 12th grade enrollment during the last 5 years Mr. Miles was there.  With the resulting smaller graduation classes, as failing students were pressured to leave, Mr. Miles had been able to raise ACT average scores.  Most of the leaving Harrison students went to District 11 nearby where ACT score averages went down.

Trustee Mike Morath and other trustees were very impressed with that average ACT improvement in Harrison.  Apparently they were not aware of the 33% reduction in 12th grade enrollment at the same time, or of Harrison students from these classes being tested leaving Harrison for District 11 where the ACT averages went down.  They have never spoken about the 33% 12th grade reduction in Harrison.  Only the rise in the average ACT score in Harrison impressed them. 

Once in Dallas, an attempt was made to try to impress Dallas with suddenly rising ACT scores the first year Miles was here, but when the still mysterious, first time ever, 20+% reduction in minority students taking the ACT was made public, any attempt by Miles to benefit from such claims quickly disappeared. 

Dallas has not yet allowed Mr. Miles to reduce 12th grade enrollment more than 6%.  While DISD is now testing almost the entire class, with over 2,400 more students taking SAT exams last year, the number getting "college ready" scores above 990 has gone down by 195 students in DISD under Mr. Miles.

When Dr. Hinojosa left, DISD had reason to celebrate the progress made during his tenure.  The graduation rate had set new records constantly during his final years, and that progress peaked with the Class of 2013, two graduation classes after he left in June of 2011! Rarely, if ever, has a superintendent left behind such a positive legacy.  He had allowed DISD staff to develop programs that focused on the painful middle school/high school transition.  The 14,500 9th grade student "bulges" that were common following 8th grade enrollments below 11,000 began to disappear as the 9th grade failure rates, and resulting high discipline problem rates, began to go down in 2009.   This was real progress, but it did not receive the media and public attention it should have received.

What will Mike Miles leave behind?  It appears to be the following:
  1. Graduation rates going down as the progress from 2007 to 2012 has been reversed with a returning larger "9th grade bulge." For the first time in 7 years in DISD, in 2014, a graduation class was smaller than the previous years class. It was over 400 students smaller! The growth has stopped.
  2. Teacher turnover has broken all time records and is still growing.  Final reports for 2014/15 may show over a 35% turnover.  
  3. While average teacher salaries have gone down as tenured teachers were pushed out of DISD, over-priced administrative positions with record breaking salaries have multiplied, leaving behind 175 administrators in highly paid positions filled with many relatively in-experienced staff with meager resumes for the work they are doing.  The justification for these higher salaries is especially questionable due to deteriorating student achievement happening under their leadership.
  4. Crowded classrooms are accepted as normal.
  5. The number of "improvement required" schools is one of the highest in DISD history, increasing 26% after the 2013/14 school year alone!  At the same time in the number of "improvement required" schools in the rest of Texas went down 5%.  The large majority of urban districts in Texas improved as Dallas deteriorated!
  6. College Readiness rates dropped for the first time in over 8 years since 195 fewer students received SAT scores of 990 or above!

What other damage will be left behind in DISD as Miles leaves?   Dallas must have this discussion.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A pivotal question for DISD history

Hopefully this question will be guiding the current meeting in progress for the DISD Trustees, but with a logical decision coming from their work. 

What evidence exists of "substantive steps in good faith" being taken by Mr. Miles before he lost 5,000 teachers who have now left DISD since he arrived, the largest loss of talent in DISD history?  Has Mr. Miles ever expressed concern about this loss?  What "substantive steps in good faith" were taken before dozens of PTA's dissolved until DISD now has what is probably the smallest percentage of schools in DISD history with functional PTA's actively in operation?  Has Mr. Miles expressed concern about the loss of PTA's and active relationships with parents by DISD?
11:30 update   - The 11-6-14 DISD Board meeting discussing this issue just ended.  No action was taken against anyone other than a request for investigation sent to TEA, the Texas Education Agency, to both verify facts and secure an attorney generals opinion about the right of a trustee to be on school property and the right of a superintendent to deny that right.   There is precise wording given to all of this tonight I do not recall. 

It appears to me to have been a solid meeting with good cooperation resulting in a unanimous decision for this request to TEA.   These were good steps that will ultimately lead to the resolution of this issue.meeting just ended.  No action was taken against anyone other than a request for investigation sent to TEA, the Texas Education Agency, to both verify facts and secure an attorney generals opinion about the right of a trustee to be on school property and the right of a superintendent to deny that right.   There is precise wording given to all of this tonight I do not recall. 

It appears to me to have been a solid meeting with good cooperation resulting in a unanimous decision for this request to TEA.   These were good steps that will ultimately lead to the resolution of this issue.

It appears to have been a solid DISD Board meeting with good cooperation resulting in a unanimous decision for this request to TEA.   These were good steps that could ultimately lead to the resolution of the ongoing crisis within DISD.   DISD must return to the progress that was happening until July of 2012.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Data Dallas ISD does not want to advertise

On 8-14-14 DISD published the following CORE Network News for DISD. It included a graph documenting the increased speed with which teacher vacancies were being filled. 

CAPE Network News for 8-14-14
Click on above image to enlarge.
The Cape Network news only gave a graph underlining the increased speed with which they are now able to fill teacher vacancies in DISD.  It failed to provide additional information as to how turnover has gone up over 120% and the number of new teachers teaching their first year as a teacher has increased over 150% in the past 2 years.    See this edited copy of the graph from the CORE Network News that provides a more accurate image of the crisis being inflicted on Dallas ISD students.

Edited copy of DISD teacher vacancy graph showing the rest of the story
of the Dallas ISD growing crisis in teacher turnover.

Click on above image to enlarge.

When the numbers are compared across time you can see the number first year teachers has gone from 460 a year to 1,285 a year in just 3 years.  The percent of teacher turnover has gone from 12.9% to 28.5%, well over a 120% increase.   

Remember, these are last years numbers.  The numbers for 2014/15 are slowly being gathered and appear to be growing.  
It has now been verified that the 2014/15 school year started with 1/3 of DISD teachers having one year or less with the district!  Since the school year started over 200 more teachers have already resigned as of today.  The highest percentage of teachers leaving came from the record number of new teachers hired by DISD this summer.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dade Middle School Crisis in Dallas ISD

The school year started at Dade Middle School with one of the lowest tenured teaching staffs in all of DISD!

This happened in spite of the fact that Dade is an inner city middle school with a record of intense discipline problems and violence, rated "improvement required" for the second year in a row.  Dade began this school year with over 54% of teaching staff, 32 out of 59, having one year or less tenure with DISD.  The teachers may have had more teaching time, but were new to DISD, and DISD would not release more details.  

This was a recipe for failure that ultimately exploded with the report posted 10-10-14 by the Dallas Morning News online Friday evening and linked here.  The Dade leadership team and 10 Dade teachers were suddenly replaced by Mr. Miles.  More details are constantly emerging. Get updates at or from Dade and other sources.

But, this crisis started two years ago! Plans to merge two rival middle schools into the new $53,000,000 Billy Earl Dade Middle School were being made.  Advice of local educators to work in the community before the opening to ease the merging of two rival middle schools was ignored by Mr. Miles and his staff.

The local principal with a positive history managing the original Billy Earl Dade Middle School, who was there when Mr. Miles started with DISD, was presumed to be the first principal over the new Dade.  He was the first principal under Miles. However he was suddenly removed along with many of the experienced teachers from the old Dade by Miles.  A principal from outside the community, unknown to the community, with no secondary school experience, and many Teach for American teachers, and other new teachers, were assigned to the new building.  Achievement fell and the Dade was rated "Improvement Required" the first year in the new building.  Principal number two was replaced by a third principal this past summer who lasted 6 weeks into this school year.

Now as of  10-14-14 almost half of the teacher replacements assigned last week, have quit.  See a local news report linked here on these sudden resignations.

The fourth principal is still there with the new leadership team assigned last week. (Note: this was posted 10-14-14 and things are moving fast in DISD.  If you know more of the history and see errors please email corrections: )

Repeat, the new Dade principal as of last week is the fourth principal at Dade since Mr. Miles came to DISD.  The teaching staff at Dade has evolved since 2012 to become one of the least tenured and lowest paid at any school in DISD.  Dade teachers have an average of 5.3 years in DISD while the average teacher in the district has an average tenure within DISD of 7.9 years.  While DISD already has a terrifyingly high percentage of teacher staff who are new to DISD, 32.8% having one year or less with DISD, at Dade that percentage with one year or less in DISD is over 54%!   (Please let me know if you are aware of any DISD school with a greater percentage of staff with one year or less time with DISD! )

Consistent with such exceptionally high turnover, Dade staff have some of the lowest average salaries in DISD.   While DISD has over 18% of classroom teaching staff with salaries over $58,000, at Dade that percentage was only 10% as of 8-18-14.  

What happened in DISD to the idea of encouraging the most experienced staff, the best paid staff, to be working in our most demanding schools?

Problems at Dade have deteriorated under Mr. Miles' leadership due to his habit of ignoring local history and not respecting local advice in his planning.  This is a dangerous and repeated pattern that has resulted in ending much of the progress being made in DISD as a whole when Mr. Miles arrived in July of 2012!  See the documentation of that decline at .

Dallas must pay more attention to what is happening, the data coming from our schools, and compare that to what is being said by Mr. Miles.


A separate but major element with the Dade crisis is unrelated to Mr. Miles beyond the fact that he also followed the lead of previous DISD administrations and has done little more than talk about it.  They have all virtually ignored the growing research that shows middle schools are not good for student achievement.   Some of that research is described and linked to a blog at .   DISD must begin moving away from the use of middle schools.  The focus must change to the use of K-8 schools in our communities throughout Dallas.

After the current leadership crisis in both Dade and DISD is managed, DISD must deal with the damage being done by the very existence of middle schools in DISD. 

But DISD cannot wait for that to rebuild H.S. Thompson, a feeder school to Dade, as a K-8 school.  That must be started now!

That critical and urgent step could begin the slow transition over the next decade to having local community centered K-8 schools wherein walking to school will become more normal once again and achievement will soar while behavior problems are almost eliminated.   If the transition is done right, so our students are focused onto their own futures at the same time, Dallas will ask why we ever had middle schools.  The progress of 2008-2012 will fade into history and become a faint shadow of the progress DISD will have in the future!

The following statement signed by many community leaders was circulated 10-15-14:



The Dr. Billy Earl Dade Middle School opened in 2006 with much optimism and enthusiasm for a school of excellence to serve the middle school students in sunny South Dallas.  The former elementary school transitioned well to a middle school feeding into Madison High School, giving the two high schools in south Dallas pure feeder patterns.  The excitement continued as the principal was one who was well known to the community and many of the students, teachers and ancillary staff were committed to making this an oasis in sunny South Dallas. 


For two years, the principal and staff worked toward improving the academic progress of students while at the same time fostering basic social skills development of students, giving students a sense of their personal worth, and engaging the community and community partners in what was slowly but surely could become a beacon of hope and sunshine in sunny South Dallas.  The Bond Program provided for a new school, and the Dedication of the new school took place November 2012 under the administration of the principal and staff who had transitioned the school from elementary to middle school.  However, the optimism that had carried forth from 2006 through the dedication of the new building in November 2012 was cut short when the principal and teachers were summarily replaced before the move to the new building in the fall of 2013.  This transitional staff was replaced with a principal who had no experience as a secondary principal and no experience in sunny South Dallas.  To add to this lack of experience, the school was staffed with approximately 13 Teach for America teachers and 7 first year teachers.  These individuals with NO prior teaching experience replaced experienced teachers.   To further complicate matters, the central administration ignored information that two rival schools would be combined into one.   No plans were made to proactively address these teen rivalries.  The results: Dade went back academically in every measurable area, chaos was the order of the day, and the principal who was selected by the DISD Senior Administration was released to become a principal facilitator – one who coaches other principals! Another selection of the DISD Executive Administration was brought in for the next year ---and summarily removed six weeks into the school year!  The stellar replacement for this middle school placed in turmoil by actions of the DISD Executive Administration is another elementary principal who has no secondary experience.  Simultaneously, the experienced assistant principals were removed and replaced by another group of those who have no ties to this community --- coming in well after the start of the school year.  The student demographics for Dade are 69.5% Black; 29.3% Hispanic and 1 percent other.  The administration is:

1 Principal – Hispanic Female

4 Assistant Principals:  2 Female Hispanics; 1 White Female; and 1 Black Female (an all-female administrative team for a campus in turmoil and where there is a clear need for strong male models for both the female and male students.)   Additionally, the Executive Administration decided to remove teachers and replace them with Instructional Coaches from around the District – the result –day 1, over half of the Instructional Coaches were no shows, so the classes were doubled up; a food fight ensued, and the chaos continued.  Day 2 -three of the Instructional Coaches resigned leaving classes without assigned teachers; students continued their protests for the removal of trusted teachers and leaders.  The Superintendent canceled the Parent Meeting to brief parents --- a meeting scheduled on Middle School Parent Conference Night which was an optimum time to reach the most parents, and a continued sense of chaos and disorganization continues. These missteps orchestrated by the Executive Administration of DISD are a disservice to the Dade School Community. 

Ø We, the community, call upon the Superintendent to host a town hall meeting to address the future of Dade Middle School to ensure a semblance of stability and opportunity for student growth; 

Ø We call upon the Superintendent to give respect to the parents of Dade students by addressing this directly with them and answering any questions they may have;

Ø We call upon the Board of Trustees to review this situation which has placed a troubled school in greater harm; to remove a current DISD School Board member from a public school is highly unacceptable and an appropriate remedy MUST be developed and enforced.


Ø We call upon the Superintendent to cite specific statues that would allow for the ejection of an elected official from pubic school property, within that member’s Trustee District. We call upon the superintendent to address the criteria for permitting one trustee to attend staff meetings while excluding other trustees.  We call upon the superintendent to adhere to his amended contract that requires him to foster positive relationships among school board trustees.

Concerned citizens of the Dade School community desire a stable learning environment filled with high expectations, dedicated, competent educators with a successful track record of working with diverse urban students.

October 15, 2014                 Contact:  Dr. Roscoe C. Smith

 Partial list of supporters:

The Honorable Mavis Knight, Texas State Board of Education, District 13                                                      

The Honorable Carolyn R. Davis, Dallas City Council District, District 7

The Honorable Harryette Ehrhardt, former, State Representative

Dr. Michael L. Bowie, Pastor, St. Luke “Community” UMC

Dr. Zan W. Holmes, Jr., Pastor Emeritus, St. Luke “Community” UMC

The Honorable Diane Ragsdale, former Dallas City Council member

Minister Jeffery Muhammad, Muhammad Mosque

Rev. Bryan Carter, President, African American Pastors Coalition

Dr. Ronald Jones, Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church

Dr. Harry L. Robinson, Jr., resident of South Dallas

Shirley Ison-Newsome, retired DISD administrator

Dr. Alfred L. Roberts, Sr., retired DISD administrator, resident of South Dallas

Dr. Roscoe C. Smith, retired DISD administrator


Friday, October 10, 2014

Tenured Teachers Leaving Dallas ISD as of 8-18-14

Through an open records request I received an Excel spreadsheet listing of the 10,197 teachers within DISD as of 8-18-14 with their certification and DISD tenure given.   DISD in press releases was stating that all teaching positions were filled at the start of the current school year except for 16.  Thus the following report on this data on 10,197 positions should be a rather complete accounting for all teachers as of 8-18-14.  Since then it appears DISD has been losing over 100 more teachers a month.  See last paragraph below.  More data is being requested.

Number DISD teachers with 0 years with DISD: 1866
Number DISD teachers  with 1 year with DISD: 1477
Number with 2 779
Number with 3 294
Number with 4 352
Number with 5 255
Number with 6 376
Number with 7 535
Number with 8 472
Number with 9 358
Number with 10 310
Number with 11 278
Number with 12 328
Number with 13 334
Number with 14 262
Number with 15 204
Number with 16 179
Number with 17 150
Number with 18 168
Number with 19 131
Number with 20 129
Teachers with 21 years or more with DISD 938
Total with number of years given 10,175
#N/A 1
Total number of teachers as of 8-18-14 10,197

Notice that 32.8% of all teachers have either no experience within DISD (1,866) or have only one year with DISD (1,477).   These two numbers represent 32.8% of all teachers within DISD.  We have not yet found any school district with almost 1/3 of all teachers having one year or less of tenure with the district.

Research is consistent in finding that new teachers are the least effective teachers. "Teachers in their first three years do a less satisfactory job than they will with more experience."   Such sentences in academic research are not news, but look at the chart below and notice that DISD now has the highest percentage of teachers in their first three years in history!

Over 40% of teachers in DISD, 4,122 total, have been with DISD for two years or less, however they may have more years teaching than their years with DISD reflect.  (This is from the above chart.)

The chart below is centered on experience as a teacher as reflected on about page 17 in each of the annual Data Packets posted at the end of each summer for planning purposes for the new school year as linked here. This is not just time with DISD as had to be used above.  (I do not understand why DISD could not respect my open records request for teaching experience for teachers on the payroll as of 8-18-14.  We debated that request back and forth by email until I gave up so as to receive the above data.)

History of tenure teaching among DISD teachers as reflected in annual planning documents.
From DISD Annual Data Packets under Statistics at:
Both of these lists indicate a record turnover rate among DISD teaching staff since 2012.  This does not look good for DISD student achievement in 2014/15.   Turnover must be slowed down!  

Sadly I can find nowhere in the news, or by observation of DISD Trustee meetings, that DISD administrative staff and leadership are showing any concern whatsoever about this destructive staff turnover.   What efforts are being taken to stop teacher turnover from growing?

DISD Administration claimed they started the school year with only 16 vacancies.  A week ago there were about 125 teacher positions posted as vacant and open for filling on the DISD web site.  Today there are 184 positions posted.   See .   Will this number continue to grow or will DISD be able to hire teachers fast enough to replace the teachers who are now reported as leaving out of frustration?  

How many DISD teachers have been resigning each school day?  Since DISD claimed only 16 vacancies as of 8-18-14, and there are as of 10-31-14 over 200 vacancies posted on the DISD web site, and from 8-19-14 to 10-31-14, DISD hired an additional 375 teachers.  On the average school day since school has started 12 DISD teachers have resigned!  This is not at the end of the school year, but during the school year!