Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Enrollment growth shows we have a dropout cure!

In December of 2009 it was discovered that, while only 2 out of the 32 high schools in Dallas ISD receive over 90% of the Middle School Archive Project students, those two schools account for 55% of the growth in 11th and 12th grade enrollment, within these 32 high schools, from 2005/2006 to 2009/2010.

This is the strongest indication to date that the School Archive Project, started in 2005, has a powerful effect in positively motivating students to stay in school.

From the 2005/2006 school year to 2009/2010 DISD made significant dropout rate progress. That progress included increasing 11th and 12th grade enrollments by 758 students or 5% during those 4 years. (At the same time the district itself lost 2.5% of it's total student enrollment.) However, when you look closely at the source of this 758 student increase you find that 417 of this increase, 55% of it, happened at two out of the 32 DISD high schools: Pinkston and Sunset high schools, the "Archive Project High Schools."

The data behind these indications can be studied at http://www.studentmotivation.org/.

It appears we may have found the dropout "silver bullet," a dropout cure. In 2010 we will celebrate as record numbers of students graduate within Dallas ISD. The School Archive Project will continue to spread! Schools in DISD who want to start such a project can have their principal send an email to Linda Johnson at the Dallas Educational Foundation at 3700 Ross. There is enough money left, after having started 4 other Archive Projects this year, to cover expenses for five more schools.

If anyone wants to give to the "Archive Project Fund" go to www.dallasisd.org/about/edfoundation/programs.htm and read about the School Archive Project mentioned at the bottom of that page. Donations can be designated and mailed to the Dallas Educational Foundation at the address given. $1,500 will install the needed vault, and cover other expenses for the first few years, to get the project started at your local school. Of course donations can always be made directly to your school if the principal wants to get a project started. Projects are now happening at the elementary, middle school and high school level at 5 schools within DISD.

Students benefit from time spent focusing on their own futures.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More evidence of progress in Dallas ISD

In addition to the progress being documented in academic areas (see http://www.dallasisd.org/Dallasisd2009ProgressReportFINAL.pdf) there is record setting progress in student dropout rates! Using data posted 11-20-09 on the "current enrollment statistics" pages on the DISD web site (https://portal.dallasisd.org/mydata/) it is very easy to document the significant progress being made lowering the dropout rate in Dallas ISD schools throughout all areas of Dallas. A total of 157,151 students are documented in this 11-20-09 data and included in these trends.

This current enrollment data was downloaded and added to the DISD enrollment by grade spreadsheet on the http://www.studentmotivation.org/ web site. That spreadsheet includes DISD student enrollment since 1996-1997.

Below is a chart reflecting changes over the past 14 years using four separate measurements of graduation/dropout rates in DISD generated on this spreadsheet. Click on the chart to see a larger copy. All measurements indicate significant progress being made in DISD, especially during the past 4 years combined:

If anyone is interested in seeing the spreadsheet used to create this chart, it can be downloaded from from http://www.studentmotivation.org/DISDenrollmentbygrade1997-2010.xls . It is good for as many people in Dallas as is possible to know more about what is happening in our schools.

A second spreadsheet contains enrollment spreadsheets for each one of the 21 "Dropout Factory" high schools, so designated in a John Hopkins University national study in 2007. It was used to create the chart in the previous post comparing achievements in three geographic areas of DISD. It also can be downloaded from a different link: http://www.studentmotivation.org/DallasISD/DallasISDHighSchools1997-2010.xls .

The best news for DISD is that, following the criteria used by John Hopkins University to designate "Dropout Factories," a minimum of three of the 21 schools can no longer be classified as "Dropout Factories" based on this current data. When a school has three consecutive 9th to 12th grade promotion rate annual averages that together average above 60%, it would no longer be judged to be a "Dropout Factory." It is almost certain that the number of "Dropout Factories" in DISD will continue to go down for at least the next two years based on the current, very positive, enrollment patterns. Graduation rates are rising!

We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving in DISD.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dropout Rate Progress in Dallas ISD

This past week the Dallas Independent School District released current enrollment numbers which indicate very positive progress in lowering the dropout rate. Using these enrollment numbers it was determined that the Cumulative Promotion Index has gone from 46.6% last year to 54.0% this year! This 7.4 percentage point gain is wonderful! Current enrollment numbers indicate it will continue to go up next year as well.

Other good news is that the improvements were spread all across Dallas, and were especially positive in North Dallas where the 6 high schools went from an average 9th to 12th grade promotion rate of 39.6% in 2008-2009 to 53.6% for 2009-2010! The graph below shows this years progress compared with the past 11 years. DISD well on the road to setting new records with the 2010 graduation rate.

If anyone is interested in copies of the spreadsheets going back a decade that were used to come to these conclusions and create the above graph, please email bbetzen@aol.com. Copies of both spreadsheets will be emailed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to set up and manage a School Archive Project

Now that we are starting five new School Archive Projects in Dallas ISD schools at all levels (three middle schools, one high school, and one elementary school), and now that we have the first nationally published article on the Archive Project by America's Promise, there's need for more detailed instructions to help in starting additional School Archive Projects.

The School Archive Project is a simple reinforcement for the work teachers already do to focus students onto their own futures. It helps focus students on what they need to succeed in life as an adult. It provides an additional tool for teachers that is also very popular with students.

The basic steps in setting up a School Archive Project are:

1) You must have the full commitment of the school administration for the project. This is not a one person project, though one person can get it started. With administrative support it is easier to obtain the 30 or so minutes needed every year with all school staff to help everyone understand how the Archive Project reinforces work already being done to motivate students to prepare for their own futures. The better all staff in a school understand the Archive Project the greater the success will be!

2) The vault must be visible by all students as many times every school day as is possible. Location is critical. A bright spotlight focused on the vault helps draw attention to it.

3) Start the school year with an initial writing project for the incoming students no matter their grade level. It could be as simple as a letter about their current life and work and their plans for the school year, or a more researched family & personal history with plans they have for their life. This letter will be placed into the vault with the understanding that students will take it out of the vault to update it or to write another letter before they leave that school to go on to middle school, or high school, or college. As student pass the vault they may think of the letter they already have in it as well as the letter they will be writing before they leave to their next level of education.

4) End the school year with the final letter writing project by the departing class be they 5th graders going to middle school, 8th graders going to high school, or seniors going out into the world and/or other studies. That project is the final draft of the letter for the vault. This is where it is highly recommended that photos be taken and a copy of that photo given to students as a reminder of their letter and their class reunion.

More details for this process are on the http://www.studentmotivation.org/ web site. Do not hesitate to write bbetzen@aol.com if there are questions.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The 9th to 12th grade promotion rates for Bryan Adams and Sunset were as follows for the past 5 years up to and including 2008-2009:

Bryan Adams: 44.7%, 44.2%, 39.9%, 29.4%, & 35.9%.
Sunset H. S. : 43.6%, 38.7%, 45.5%, 55.8%, & 57.3%.

If Bryan Adams does not have higher TAKS scores in recent years due to the volumn of 9th graders missing, then something really is wrong, in addition to loosing 2/3 of the freshman class.

This data is taken from the enrollent by grade spreadsheets for each non-magnet DISD high school that can be found at http://www.studentmotivation.org/dallasisd/. On that page Bryan Adams is school # 6 and Sunset is school # 20.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Progress in Oak Cliff with dropout rates

The above graph reports on the 21 non-magnet high schools within DISD who are also over 10 years old. It separate them into three groups: Oak Cliff, Southeast Dallas, and North Dallas. There are 6 high schools in North Dallas, the area north of the Trinity on the west side of Dallas and north of I-30 on the east side of Dallas. There are 6 high schools in southeast Dallas, the area south of I-30 and east of the Trinity River. There are 9 high schools in Oak Cliff, the area south and west of the Trinity River. When you take the enrollment numbers for each of the schools in each of these areas of Dallas and put those enrollment numbers into one spreadsheet for each area of Dallas the results indicate many common Dallas myths that are not true.

A major indication of dropout rate is the percentage of 9th graders who make it to the 12th grade. It is called the promotion rate. Sadly it must be used in this report because the TEA web site does not give graduation numbers by school, only by district and larger geographic area. However enrollment numbers are given, so the promotion rates can be calculated. It is this same promotion rate that was used by John Hopkins University in their 2007 study that designated 1700 "dropout factories" in the US, a list in which all the non-magnet high schools in Dallas were included.

Using enrollment numbers going back for the past 10 years you quickly see that the 6 North Dallas high schools within DISD during that time period had a promotion rate than has dramatically fallen in recent years while Oak Cliff had consitently risen. In the 2008-2009 school year the lead of Oak Cliff over North Dallas has grown to the extent that the 9 Oak Cliff high schools have a promotion rate over 11 percentage points above the 6 North Dallas high schools. See the details that help explain the following spreadsheet at www.studentmotivation.org/dallasisd.

Another Dallas Dropout myth bites the dust!

We have something to celebrate in Oak Cliff! Now to continue the same progress we have had for the past 8 years for the next 8 years!