Monday, August 18, 2014

Data DISD did not want shared.

On 8-14-14 DISD published their most recent copy of the 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 100% and the number of new teachers teaching their first year as a teacher has increased about 150% in the past 2 years.    See this edited copy of the graph from the CORE Network News.

Edited copy of staff graphic from 8-14-18 CAPE Network News.
Click 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 turnover has gone from 12.9% to 28.5%, well over a 100% increase.   

Remember, these are last years numbers.  The numbers for 2014/15 are slowly being gathered.  We already know the number of new, first year teachers is as high as last year, within 50, but that resignations are still being counted and positions filled. 
The 2014/15 school year is finding DISD with the smallest percentage in history of teachers with over three years teaching experience, and the highest percentage of teachers ever with one year or less of teaching experience. 

The Best Schools Master Relationships

This weekend there was a powerful article in the NY Times about education that said more about personal relationships that are the heart of the Time-Capsule Project than any article I have seen yet.   Here is that article from
Below are some of the most powerful quotes from the article.

Teaching Is Not a Business

... It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.
Charter schools have been promoted as improving education by creating competition. But charter students do about the same, over all, as their public school counterparts, and the worst charters, like the online K-12 schools that have proliferated in several states, don’t deserve to be called schools. Vouchers are also supposed to increase competition by giving parents direct say over the schools their children attend, but the students haven’t benefited. For the past generation, Milwaukee has run a voucher experiment, with much-debated outcomes that to me show no real academic improvement.
While these reformers talk a lot about markets and competition, the essence of a good education — bringing together talented teachers, engaged students and a challenging curriculum — goes undiscussed.
....  public schools have been spending billions of dollars on technology which they envision as the wave of the future. Despite the hyped claims, the results have been disappointing. “The data is pretty weak,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. “When it comes to showing results, we better put up or shut up.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DISD School Board Meeting 7-22-14, 2:43 AM to 4:05 AM

7-21-14 at 5:30 PM the DISD Trustees began a board meeting to address a request for contract extension, retirement vesting, clearance to begin consulting, a "salary bump" and possibly other items not made public.  They went into closed session about 5:50 PM on 7-21-14.  They did not return to an open meeting until 2:43 AM on 7-22-14.

Dallas ISD Board Meeting 2:43 AM to 4:05 AM on 7-22-14
The video record of this exceptionally informative board meeting is online at .   The meeting starts at 9:17:00, 9 hours and 17 minutes into the tape, at 2:43 AM.   The first action after the resumption of the open meeting was the reading of the proposed contract. 

It is strongly recommend everyone concerned about Dallas ISD students listen to all of this video tape.   The statements by board members were very informative.  Share it with your friends.

Ultimately the superintendent's contract was extended to July 1, 2017 but not until two critical, but failed, amendments were attempted.  That amendment process was exceptionally informative.

The first amendment was to delay the planned vote tonight until after the formal evaluation of Miles was completed.  There was much debate.  It was only supported by Trustees Foreman, Jones, Blackburn and Nutall and failed.   While Miguel Solis and others made statements that all the needed data is now available, what about the TEA school evaluation data that will not be available until August?

The second amendment was to eliminate the ability for consulting from the contract.  The proposed contract allows Mr. Miles to consult 8 days a year using vacation time for the consulting and then giving any money earned, less expenses, to the Dallas Educational Foundation.  Only Foreman, Blackburn, and Nutall voted for that, but Jones documented many excellent concerns in her statement.  

The final vote to approve the contract until 2017 passed 7 to 2 with only Foreman and Nutall voting against it.   This extension mandates that if Mr. Miles is terminated without reason that the complete liability of DISD would never go beyond one years' salary, or $300,000 presently since there was no raise given this evening.

Only media, from every TV station in town, and 3 of us "civilians," were present for this latest morning meeting in DISD history addressing a superintendents' contract extension.

Dallas can be thankful.  It was not an easy process for those involved.   A lot of work went on this evening behind closed doors.  Sadly the data on the student lack of achievement from the STAAR tests and the shrinking size of the most recent graduation class appear to have been ignored by the majority of the board.

What else counts?   Dallas needs this to be explained by the board members who supported Miles this evening.  If Mr. Miles had a principal whose school tested worse year to year in 4 out of 5 subjects by an average of over 3 percentage points, and only improved by 1.9 percentage points in only one subject, and had a minority achievement gap that virtually exploded, what would Mr. Miles do?  This is what has happened inside DISD to the 65,000 students grades 3 to 8 we have entrusted to Mr. Miles.   See data charts here. 

Regarding the vesting issue and a "salary bump," they were not granted.  The final agreement appears rather austere in detail, not granting many of the extras that were requested .   

Dallas needs a public debate of the data that is collecting about our children's progress in DISD.    

Dallas is loosing critical focus due to "home rule," while DISD has been deteriorating since July 2012 following the 5 greatest years of progress in DISD historyThe public must be contacting all board members about the damage now happening inside DISD.

Please listen to this 80 minute meeting that starts at 9:17:00 on the tape.  It exposes the DISD Board regarding dedication to detail, data, professional management, and following established procedures.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Five Best Years 2008-2012 - Dallas ISD Data - updated 9-4-14

The five best years of progress in Dallas ISD History since WWII were 2008-2012!  From the Class of 2007 to the Class of 2013 the number of annual diplomas granted by DISD increased by over 1,500.  
The largest Dallas ISD graduation class since 1981 graduated in 2013! 
But too many measurements indicate the "best years" had already started to end in 2012/13.
Dallas ISD Graduation Rate Measurements 2003 to 2014
Click on above chart to enlarge.  Email for Excel spreadsheet with formulas and data.
During 5 academic years, from the Class of 2008 to the Class of 2012, these 11 measurements only had one out of the 55 total measurements that was negative as a step backwards.  Then progress stopped!  For the Classes of 2013 and 14 there are 21 measurements available.  11 of them are negative!    Can Dallas continue to ignore these numbers?
Anyone who finds mistakes in this data is encouraged to review the data below, the data sources, and contact with your findings and/or concerns.
1.      Texas Education Agency School Ratings: With 9 more DISD schools rated "Improvement Required" in 2014 (43) that in 2013 (34), Dallas has the sad distinction of deteriorating with more new failing schools than any district in Texas!  The rest of Texas improved with 5% fewer schools rated “improvement required” while DISD had 26% more. (T.E.A. 8-7-14) 
2.      College Readiness: The number of SAT “college ready” scores above 990 went down for the first time in DISD history with the Class of 2014 when 195 fewer DISD students received scores above 990 than in 2013.  This was a drop of 16%, from 1,212 to 1,017. (D.M.N. 6-23-14)
3.      Academic Issues:  The percentage of the 65,000 third through 8th grade students with passing grades on STAAR tests went down an average of 3 percentage points the spring of 2014 compared to the spring of 2013 in 4 out of 5 subjects.  The Minority Achievement Gap grew.  TEA did not raise passing standards for 2014. (See page 4 of 5-22-14 STAAR Report at .)

4.      Graduation Issues:  The Dallas ISD Class of 2014 was 427 students smaller than the Class of 2013. The Class of 2014 was the first graduation class in 7 years that was not larger than the previous years’ graduation class. (See chart on other side for more details.)
  1. Discipline Issues:  Total discipline problems increased 26% during 2012/13 school year.  The shift in 2013/14 to out of school suspensions continued while in school suspensions dropped to the lowest level on record, less than a third of what they were prior to 2009/10. (DISD records)
  2. Teacher Turnover Issues:  Since 2010/11 teacher turnover percentages have increased over 120%, going from 12.9% to 28.5% by 2013/14.  The 2014/15 school year begins with DISD having the highest percentage of new, 1st year teachers in DISD History! (DISD records)
  3. Needed Public Debate:  This data must be presented and debated in Dallas public meetings!  The public must be allowed to ask questions, especially to explore the truth of "data cherry picking" allegations that demand more exploration.

Progress will only resume with more DISD openness to public involvement, similar to 2005-2007, when the seeds for these 5 years of record progress were planted within a unified DISD!

See below for details and data sources for these 7 points above.

1) Texas Education Agency School Ratings -
DISD, like the charter districts, getting worse in 2013/14! 

On 8-7-14 TEA released their 2014 school evaluations.  There was progress in public schools all over Texas as 5% fewer schools were rated as "Improvement Required."  Only 8% of normal ISD's in Texas are now rated as "improvement required." However, the charter districts in Texas continue to have problems with 22% of charter districts rated as "improvement required." Charter school districts in Texas in 2013/14 were over 2 and a half times more likely to be ruled as "improvement required" when compared with normal ISD's.

DISD was not like the other ISD's in Texas.  It now has 26% more schools rated as "improvement required" compared to last year.  No district in Texas has 9 more such schools this year!  DISD  must become more like the rest of the "regular" districts in Texas and improve.  DISD must not be like the charter districts getting worse!  See the data at .
This hints at the "home-rule" confusion that has been pushed on Dallas.  It appears to have been designed to distract the people of Dallas from studying the data accumulating that documents the ending of the recent record setting positive changes in Dallas ISD from 2007 to 2012.  

Here are some of the sites created by various Dallas volunteer and non-profit groups who are dedicated to home rule charter district issues in Dallas and in our nation:
The data concerns are documented in more detail below.

2) College Readiness:

DISD constantly had an increasing number of seniors who scored "college ready" (990) on the SAT.  That ended in 2014!  Here is the report of the Dallas Morning News:
Of the 7,663 DISD students who took the exam, only 1,017 of them received a combined score greater than 990 on the math and reading portions of the test. In comparison, 1,212 of the 5,237 students who took the exam last year hit that mark.
In 2014 with encouragement and payment by DISD for the tests, there were 2,426 more students taking the SAT exams.  That should have increased the number with at least a few more "college ready" scores.  That did not happen!   Instead the number of students with "college ready" scores went down by 195 students even with 2,426 more students taking the test!

Yes, you can expect the percentage getting above 990 to go down when all students are tested, but to have the absolute number getting above 990 to go down by 195 students indicates a very major problem in achievement.   This is the greatest step backward in SAT testing results in DISD History!

3) Academic Issues:
Based on the passing rates achieved in 2014 compared to 2013 passing rates, academic achievement for DISD has fallen in 4 out of 5 subjects as reflected in the most recent STAAR testing of over 65,000 students in grades 3 to 8!
Results are at 

2014 STAAR grade 3-8 Results by Student Group for DISD
Click on chart to enlarge.
The above 2014 STAAR test report is from taken from page four of the document at  

The minority achievement gap increased for every subject for both African American and Hispanic minority groups. 

The minority achievement gap is "exploding" based on these most recent STAAR tests.

4) Graduation Issues:

Graduation rates remain the major issue within DISD.  For generations the percentage of 9th grade enrollment who were represented in the number in the graduation class was less than 50% in DISD!  When the majority of students are not even graduating, graduation is the major crisis to be solved! Over 50% of 9th grade enrollment continued to be missing at graduation in DISD until 2011.  The actual size of graduation classes in Dallas had already been breaking records since 2008 at that time, and continued to break records until 2013, recording 6 years of constant progress!

But then the DISD Class of 2014 became the first graduation class in 7 years that was not larger than the previous year’s graduation class.  

The Class of 2014 was over 400 students smaller than the Class of 2013!

Below are 10 points about DISD graduation history drawn from the 1970-2014 DISD enrollment and graduation spreadsheet below.  It is beneath the "Five Best Years" spreadsheet. Numbers in the left hand column of the 1970-2014 spreadsheet correspond to each of these 10 points:
  1. 1970 - Dallas ISD had a total of 164,726 students of which 94,383 were Anglo.
  2. 1971 - Integration was happening, perceived as a threat, and DISD lost about 9% of Anglo students both in 1971 and again in 1972.  That loss, 8,698 and 7,945, represented more students lost each of those years than the total of number of Anglo students remaining in DISD now since 2008.
  3. 1984 - When you look at the graduating class as the percentage of the entire DISD enrollment, this year was the last time, until 2013, that the graduation class would represent over 4.7% of total DISD enrollment. It was 5.3% that year, the lowest percentage, and the smallest graduation class, since 1971 and probably before.  Then it fell to 4.7% in 1985.
  4. 1994 - The graduation classes of 1994 and 1993 were the smallest DISD graduation class in the last 44+ years! They also represented only 3.2% of the enrollment of DISD, the smallest such percentage, possibly in all of DISD History, but definitely since the end of WWII.  It certainly represented a graduation rate painfully far below 50% of the 9th grade enrollment.  No graduation class was larger than 50% of their 9th grade enrollment under current higher graduation standards until the Class of 2011.
  5. 2008 - From 2008 to 2012 were the most productive years in DISD History! High school graduation rates grew by 20 percentage points no matter what formula is used to calculate the graduation rate! 
  6. 2009 -  The year with the lowest Anglo enrollment on record for DISD, 7,207 students, was 2009.    It was less than 8% of the Anglo enrollment of 1970.
  7. 2010 -  The first year in 40 years that the Anglo enrollment in DISD did not go down was 2010. White flight had ended! Anglo enrollment grew by 25 students.  By 2014 DISD Anglo enrollment was 339 students higher than the low point of the 2009 enrollment.
  8. 2011 was the first time in over two decades that DISD had more than 50% of the total original 9th grade enrollment represented in the graduating class. (Remember the graduation standards that Texas has now did not exist in 1981.) The Class of 2011 was the largest graduating class in over a quarter of a century, one of 6 such record breaking classes in a row from 2008 to 2013. 
  9. 2013, with a graduation class of 7,691 students DISD had the largest graduation class since 1981!  It was a 32 year record!  The size of this graduation class represented 4.8% of total DISD enrollment, the largest proportion since 1984!
  10. 2014, the Class of 2014 was 427 students smaller than the record breaking Class of 2013. This was the first graduation class in 7 years that was not larger than the previous graduation class.
This 44 year history of DISD graduation rates shows DISD progress since 2006, then the decimation since 2013.  Progress must be started again!
Dallas ISD Enrollment and Graduation numbers 1970 to 2014
Click on above chart to enlarge.  (email for Excel copy of spreadsheet.)
In the above spreadsheet the “% Total Enrollment” column, second to the last on the right, is the percentage of the total DISD enrollment that year who are receiving a diploma with that graduation class.  In a perfect world with stable populations, 100% graduation rates, k-12 school systems, and zero population growth, 7.67%, or 1/13th of the enrollment, would be graduating each year.  That never happens in any school district. Instead, as is shown in the above chart, the highest percentage of enrollment ever graduating from DISD was 6.2% in 1979. That was probably due to the massive flight of over 49,000 Anglo students the previous 8 years in mostly the lower grades combined with the older Anglo students probably wanting to remain until graduation.  Thus it may have been the best graduation rate for DISD.

White flight decimated DISD with enrollment going from 164,726 in 1971 to only 127,462 in 1984. During the 9 year tenure of Nolan Estes reflected in this chart the Anglo enrollment dropped by over 50,000 students.  Only 42,000 Anglo students remained when Nolan Estes retired.  

Then in 1984 "No-pass No-play" and higher graduation requirements were added during the legislative session. That led to the largest drop in graduation numbers during these 44 years with over 800 fewer students graduating with the Class of 1985!   Graduation numbers continued to fall from 1985 onward.  The "Percentage of Total Enrollment" number for graduates fell below 4.5%, falling as low as 3.2% for the Class of 1994. 

From the Class of 1986 to the Class of 2010 the percentage of full DISD enrollment represented in the graduating class never went above 4.5%.   That barrier was broken with the Class of 2011.  Then the Class of 2013 set another record by being over 4.8% of the student body! Now that measurement appears to have fallen to 4.6% with the Class of 2014.

It became obvious that the progress improving graduation rates was slowing to a stop when the
official enrollment count on November 1, of 2012 was made.  Those measurements showed that year to year growth in senior enrollment had slowed to the lowest percentage growth in 6 years!   That rate of growth had suddenly fallen by November of 2012 to only 0.76% after 5 years of growth of 2.66% or higher!  Then with the Class of 2014 we had the first year with a smaller senior class in 7 years.  It was 500 students smaller, a 6% drop!  In the previous 16 years the largest such drop in DISD had been 3.84%.

18 Years of Dallas ISD enrollment by grade, 1996 to 2014, with the best 5 years since WWII
The gray cells in the last 15 rows of the chart show loss of progress.   Clear cells show progress.
Click on above image to enlarge. (email for Excel copy of spreadsheet.)
Can Dallas Ignore the Graduation number History for Harrison School District Two in Colorado?

If Mike Miles had come to Dallas with a record of having turned around falling graduation numbers in Colorado, then Dallas could have reason for hope.  But the opposite happened in Colorado! Senior enrollment and graduation numbers went down for the last 5 years Mike Miles was in Colorado.  A total of 1/3 of senior enrollment was lost!  

See details about Harrison School District 2 in Colorado in the charts and data linked from .

Mr. Miles was hired due to a record of increasing the average ACT scores in Harrison Two School District. 

What was not pointed out to the Dallas Public, and may have not even been explored by the DISD Board doing the hiring, that this increase in the average score was happening with fewer and fewer students being tested since Harrison high school level enrollment, and especially upper class enrollment, was shrinking at the same time!  Ultimately 1/3 of Harrison senior enrollment was missing after 5 years.  That fifth year was the year Mike Miles came to Dallas ISD!

Many students transferred out of Harrison into District 11 to the north in Colorado Springs during this time.  Then the District 11 average ACT scores were reported in the Colorado Springs media as going down.  Which students, the higher scoring or those struggling with grades, were for some reason leaving Harrison and transferring into District 11?
5) Discipline Issues:
Current reports from teachers indicate that discipline problems have never been worse within DISD, but the reporting of those problems has apparently been massively discouraged by current DISD Administration.   A student reportedly cannot now be sent to Lacey, the DISD off-campus school, for fighting until after their 5th fight!
When Mr. Miles started he came into a district that had enjoyed falling discipline rates for three years.  Then discipline problems exploded:

Here is another breakdown of those numbers:

The discipline reports from 2013/14 reflect several major changes in the management of discipline in DISD.  In School Suspension was only use 8,152 times last year, the lowest usage on record.   Out of School Suspension continued to be heavily used with 24,667 recorded in 2013/14.
Another way to look at discipline issues is by grade and by grade over time.   Here is that history from 2006 to 2012 by grade focusing on 6th through 9th grade.   Those years are generally acknowledged as the worst relative to discipline problems, but why?
Notice how 6th grade went from being almost no discipline problem in 2006/07 to being one of the worst grades by the first semester of 2012/13.   What happened?   It was during these 6 years that the 6th grade was pulled from the elementary schools and placed in all of the middle schools all across Dallas.  This explosion of discipline problems points to other research across the nation indicating how destructive separate middle schools are to student achievement compared to K-8 schools. 
Fortunately some DISD schools are beginning to change.  This year DISD will have Rosemont, it's first former K-5 schools transformed into a K-8 school in full operation.  The transition to a full K-8 school takes three years.  It is certain Rosemont will have some of the best behaved and highest performing 6th through 8th graders in the district!
Here is a chart on discipline problems by grade comparing 2011/12 (red) with the first semester of 2012/13 (yellow).  The 2012/13 year was the first year when all 6th graders were in middle schools across Dallas, except for Rosemont.

6) Teacher Turnover Issues

According to annual reporting found in the DISD annual data packs, teacher turnover went from 12.9% in 2010/11 to 26.5% in 2012/13, and is now 28.5% for 2013/14.  This most recent number from page 17 in the Data Packet for Planning 2014/15 just posted 8-1-14 at  .  The following charts come from this data source inside DISD.
The most damaging number such turnover points to each year is the annual number of teachers who are teaching for their first year.   Here is the progression over the past 4 years in two different charts:
School year:   Turnover:    First year teachers:  Percentage of teachers who are new to teaching:
2010-11          12.9%                 460                     4.3%
2011-12          19.5%                 515                     5.1%
2012-13          26.5%                 871                     8.9%
2013-14          28.5%                1,285                   13.2%
Note: the percentage of teachers new to teaching in 2013/14 was up over 200% while the number of teachers with over 3 years experience dropped 17.5%! 

As to student/teacher ratio history before 2010, in 2007/08 that ratio was 14.8 students per DISD teacher (156,708 students and 10,568 teachers).  The next year 2008/09 the ratio was 13.7 students per teacher (155,949 students and 11,388 teachers due to infusion of Federal Funds).  In 2009/10 the ratio fell to 14.3 (155,441 students with 10,898 teachers).   The student/teacher ratio has risen every year since 2008/09.

Remember, the most recent numbers are last years numbers and neither reflects the current turnover that is anticipated to be over 30%, nor the number of new teachers this year which will again set a new record for DISD for new, first year, teachers. 
How can DISD have achievement with over 200% more new teachers facing growing discipline issues in an urban district with a worsening student/teacher ratio?  Unless students can be more directly motivated to work in their own best interest, DISD will not see progress.

The only DISD publication that addresses these issues brags about the ability to hire more teachers in time for the start of school. It does not address the other data. That CORE Network News, the graph DISD produced, and a corrected form of that graph with the data above reflected, can be found at   Here is that corrected graph.

Maybe the idea is that with more data sources created you can focus on the positive data and ignore any negative data.  That is exactly what is happening now with the teacher turnover crisis inside DISD.   They are focusing in the media on the improvements made in hiring more teachers more quickly in time for school.  They are ignoring the turnover data and the explosion of first year teachers inside DISD, possibly now as high as 15%.  Just 4 years ago that painful number was only 5%!  

See the data along with a DISD CAPE Network News and the graph DISD produced with the rest of the data inserted into it.
Maybe the idea is that with more data sources created you can focus on the positive data and ignore any negative data.  That is exactly what is happening now with the teacher turnover crisis inside DISD.   They are focusing in the media on the improvements made in hiring more teachers more quickly in time for school.  They are ignoring the turnover data and the explosion of first year teachers inside DISD, possibly now as high as 15%.  Just 4 years ago that painful number was only 5%!  

See the data along with a DISD CAPE Network News and the graph DISD produced with the rest of the data inserted into it.
Edited copy of staff graphic from 8-14-18 CAPE Network News.
Click to enlarge
7) Needed Public Debate
Recent events in Dallas, attempting to support a move toward a "home rule charter district," tried to focus on selected, "cherry picked," data to put all of public education in a negative light.  Similar events are happening across the nation as part of a national assault on public education in the name of "reform."   It is a "reform" that is micromanaging data to manipulate the public.  In Dallas they ignored the positive data showing record setting annual progress that DISD was enjoying up to 2012!  A 20 percentage point improvement in graduation rate since 2006 cannot be ignored!
The complicating factor in Dallas is that negative data began to accumulate in 2012 in many areas in addition to those above.  
Dallas needs to have public debates on this data because there are at least two sides to the data, each side trying to justify their own goals with the data.  Who is truly guilty of "cherry picking" their data? The public should see such debates in an orderly, civil setting so they can decide.  Questions from the public must be allowed following the presentations, but they must be strictly limited to one minute so that more questions can be addressed in a more timely fashion.  We must create a setting where more and more will attend future debates.  Our city will benefit!

If Mayor Rawlings wants to support Dallas public schools he would encourage such debates on data within DISD.  He should be there to be involved.  It should be a regular event, at least annually, if not at the end of each semester as a public DISD Report Card Meeting with all data released beforehand so the public can prepare questions.  Our students could only benefit, with many hopefully being present to hear the issues they live every day in DISD classrooms.

Ultimately such a debate will help positive changes to evolve for DISD.  It is certain such change will include four basic elements as outlined at :
  1. Transparency
  2. Parental Involvement - and how to achieve it
  3. Developmentally Appropriate Grade Configuration: allowing more k-8 schools
  4. Visibility and open debate of research
A note of encouragement: the last time the people of Dallas united to improve our schools we had the greatest success on record.   Here is one slide from those original plans from Dallas Achieves:

Dallas Achieves Plans 2002-2007
Click on image to enlarge.
Compare these plans to the chart at the top of this page.  Dallas Achieves was an overwhelming success!   The Home Rule Charter District Commission must repeat that success and do it with solid recommends to avoid "home rule" but focus time and energy directly to the ongoing changes needed inside DISD.   The road to success had been outlined over and over for DISD.   We must follow the map, the data, and not be distracted. 
Bill Betzen

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Academic Loss in Dallas ISD 2014

Dallas ISD Student Achievement 2014 Grade 3 to 8 dated 5-22-14
Click image to enlarge.
The above chart is page 4, a summary of report for all grades, 3 to 8, from Dallas ISD Data Portal on most recent STAAR testing.  The first three pages of this 4 page report, with grade by grade results, is found on the DISD Data Portal site at

  1. In four out of five subjects average achievement of grade 3 to 8 students is lower.  Only math improved.
  2. The Minority/Anglo achievement gap is growing in all subjects.
  3. Seven of the 17 tests showed a higher percentage of students passing with an average increase 3.0 percentage points.
  4. Ten of the 17 tests showed a lower percentage of students passing with an average decrease of 4.1 percentage points.

These 2014 test results for DISD can be linked from and studied by school or by feeder pattern at

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Petitions regarding efforts to extend DISD Superintendents' Contract

There are at least two petitions circulating for signatures to urge DISD Trustees to either extend or not extend Superintendent Mike Miles' contract.   This is a comparison of the different letters documenting evidence for each choice. The letters are posted below with comments inserted in parenthesis an in bold regarding accuracy. Input is welcome! 

The first letter listed is the one supporting a petition, started by Stand For Children, asking to have Mike Miles' contract extended.  Both are copied directly as they were found online:
We, the concerned parents, teachers, business owners and community members of Dallas (and across the state of Texas) ask you to Extend Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles' contract through 2016-2017 school year. 

His record of achievements in Dallas is clear, to date he has: 

o Restructured management to create a "feeder pattern director" for each of the 22 high schools so that there is one person accountable for not only the high school but also every elementary and middle school that feeds into it, helping create a consistent culture attractive to parents evaluating DISD as an option for their child. (This is probably the most positive change Mike Miles has made in DISD.)

o Implemented a new principal evaluation system that has resulted in the turnover of ~100 (45%) of campus principals in years 1 and 2.  (Sadly due to this system DISD lost some of the most productive principals in the district.  One was the Sunset principal who took a failing inner-city high school from a 33% graduation rate to a 70% graduation rate. At the same time this high school excelled academically until it was among the four top DISD comprehensive high schools in having a higher percentage of seniors pass all End of Course exams than the other 18 high schools.  There are 22 such comprehensive high schools in DISD. His success, and that of some of the other principals pushed out by Mr. Miles, was addressed in the press: )

o Gained board approval to implement a robust teacher evaluation initiative with several different levels of proficiency (vs. the prior system where 99% of teachers were rated “proficient”) that will include 35% of a teacher rating based on student achievement and 15% based on student feedback. (The published research on such teacher evaluation systems is consistent in showing that they do not work and instead lead to tragic teacher turnover.  While DISD is not yet publicly documented as being at the 35% teacher turnover rate Mr. Miles had his last year in Colorado, current teacher turnover is the highest on record in memory.)

o Gained board approval to implement a new teacher compensation system that will be tied to robust teacher evaluations vs. the historical practice of tying teacher compensation solely to years of experience teaching. This policy will be implemented in 2015.  (Same comment as one above.)

o Completely reconstituted alternative certification area and moved TFA certification to SMU to help in teacher retention as candidates can receive full credit towards masters in education.  (Within DISD there is no longer a financial incentive for receiving a masters degree.)

o Implemented Imagine 2020 plan to drive additional resources toward strategic feeder patterns that have historically underperformed academically.  (No improved student achievement has been demonstrated due to this plan.  Instead, especially in the Lincoln and Pinkston feeder patterns, as reflected in the most recent STAAR tests, achievement has gone down.  See for an 86 page report by feeder pattern on the STAAR tests for 2014.)

o Rebuilt the reserve fund balance from $60 million to $300 million while improving the district’s credit rating.  (The question must be asked as to how much more often students are being subjected to less experienced and therefore less expensive teachers who are also reportedly more often not certified in the area being taught.  This information must be verified by more transparency regarding the qualifications of those teaching our children. How often are they "permanent" substitute teachers?)

o Reconstituted the Dallas Education Foundation to support initiatives district-wide. (Yes, this should be positive.)

o Installed state-of-the-art bandwidth across all 230 campuses. (Definitely positive if the reports of downtime continuing in schools as an issue are not correct.)

o Hired a new director of Pre-K education with a strong focus on substantially improving the number of students accessing a quality education within Dallas ISD. The spring 2014 Pre-K rally saw a 90% increase in enrollment over the year earlier period. (Definitely a positive, especially if this person hired remains after another year.  How many of those hired to work directly under Mr. Miles his first year are still with DISD?)

DISD has suffered mightily because of having nine superintendents in 20 years, with an average term length of only 2.3 years. St. Marks has had one headmaster that entire time, and Highland Park has only had 7 superintendents in its 95 year history. (Do you really think a school district with an 88% poverty rate has the same issues as a district without any poverty rate issue at all?  The most recently hired superintendent, Dr. Hinojosa, came from DISD and remained 7 years overseeing the 5 most progressive years in history for a 20 percentage point growth in the graduation rate.  That progress has now been ended under Mike Miles.) You can't create reform if every time you hire a reformer, they are gone in 2-3 years. The status quo just decides to wait them out. Superintendent Miles needs to be able to implement the changes he was hired to do. (You must look at Mr. Miles record! He leaves a 7 year path of constantly lowering 12th grade enrollment and smaller graduation classes.  What does that say?  If there are errors in this data, please point to it.)

Here is the letter being circulated by Dallas Friends of Public Education:
Dear Dallas ISD Trustees:
As you consider whether to extend Superintendent Mike Miles' contract in the coming weeks, please take into account the following:
*      This administration has fostered an unacceptable level of teacher churn and outright loss. Together with an increase in the use of Teach for America graduates, these practices have deprived students of the wisdom and experience of veteran teachers who have the skills and ability to recognize and address the needs of our children, including fostering social-emotional learning, one of the claimed goals of Destination 2020.
*      Superintendent Miles implemented a new principal evaluation system that positions compliance with district mandates as a priority. The system does not take into account the unique nature of each campus and the positive relationships principals have built within their community and has resulted in the loss of several effective well-loved principals. A principal turnover rate of 45% had the effect of undermining community relationships and campus stability, adversely affecting student discipline and established campus initiatives.
*     The Leadership Development Academy Mike Miles developed incurs an ongoing cost of several million dollars a year. The Academy has an emphasis on Core Beliefs and not the administrative and leadership skills needed to create a positive campus culture.  Of the 19 campuses headed by fellows in 2013-2014, eleven had climate survey results placing them in the bottom half on campus leadership and improved morale.  Two campuses, an elementary and a middle school, ranked at the very bottom in these categories.
*      Superintendent Miles developed and plans to implement a teacher evaluation instrument based on flawed metrics that recent research, including studies funded by the Gates Foundations whose METs study was the basis for the district's plan, has cast doubt on. Research suggests that this plan will serve only to increase teacher churn and may indeed unfairly target teachers who may be effective. The TEI will require a minimum of $8 million a year to implement and will undoubtedly lead to expensive litigation in the future.
*      Plans to tie teacher evaluations to compensation will deter experienced teachers from applying for district positions, and encourage the departure of veteran teachers who are not valued in a system that rewards a narrow range of achievements and relies on subjective observations and surveys. The loss of their experience and wisdom will be felt by students for many years to come.
*     The Imagination 2020 initiative diverted millions of dollars, including transportation cost overruns estimated at $8-$10 million, to three high schools and their feeder schools, with no significant results.
*      In an effort to increase the fund balance Miles implemented budgeting schemes involving planned teacher vacancies, the use of substitutes, and class size waivers. Students suffered as there were permanent substitutes in many classrooms and unacceptably large class sizes in others.
*      The installation of a fiber optic system in the district was initiated before the current administration, yet some campuses report limited access and availability in all areas. Both the nature of the system and the contracts involved tie the district to this technology for many years, with an impact on the physical location of district facilities and future options that may be more desirable.
*      A new emphasis on Pre-K initiatives, including the hiring of a new director with an emphasis on the number of enrollees rather than knowledge of early childhood development, threatens to undermine the stability of established community Pre-K programs that have demonstrated good results. It does not appear that the district has adequately planned for expansion and, in fact, district programs may be inferior to community programs in terms of teacher-student ratios and a reluctance to emphasize English acquisition skills.
*      2012-2013 academic results showed slight gains in closing the gap with the state, but DISD still lags behind state averages.  2013-2014 initial results do not show any significant improvement, and in fact show decreases in 18 out of 22 comparisons for AA students and 14 out of 22 comparisons for Hispanic and Economically Disadvantaged students.  High school EOC results were flat last year, and this year 42.1% of district high school students are in the position of  having failed one or more of the tests needed to graduate.
Superintendent Miles has spent millions of dollars on administrative reorganization, the principal fellows program, Imagination 2020 and the Teacher Excellence Initiative, with no significant impact on student achievement or college and career readiness.
Campus morale is at an all-time low and the district is experiencing an unheralded exodus of veteran teachers, even before the new evaluation system is in place. Our children need stability at home and when they do not find it there they rely on stability in the classroom. Miles, and you, have denied them even that brief respite.
It is clear Mike Miles' priorities are misguided and not in the best interests of our students.
We urge you to deny Mr. Miles his contract extension and to thoroughly examine the effects his administration has had on the students and teachers of Dallas ISD.
I am unable to find any factual errors in the second message above.  I did not write it, but the people who did have placed correct data before the public.  

Transparency is the greatest weapon we have to improve our schools.  We must use it! 

Bill Betzen 7-3-2014