Friday, May 25, 2012

Dallas ISD Resolution on High Stakes Testing

On 5-24-12 the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees passed the following significantly modified resolution on high stakes testing with only one member objecting, Trustee Carla Ranger.  She was concerned as to how significantly different it was from the 510+ other resolutions passed by other school boards in Texas.  Keeping a consistent message, as simple as possible for the legislature, was the goal.

Below is the wording to the DISD resolution.  It can be compared to the original resolution passed by the majority of the rest of Texas, online at

Dallas ISD Resolution on High Stakes Testing, 5-24-12, page 1
Right click to enlarge study or print.


Dallas ISD Resolution on High Stakes Testing, 5-24-12, page 2
Right click to enlarge study or print.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dallas ISD SAT/ACT Scores & Graduation Rate Progress 2006-2011

The ACT & SAT data is in the lower right hand corner of this spreadsheet:
Dallas ISD SAT/ACT Scores & Graduation Rate Progress
Right click on above chart to enlarge for study and/or printing.
Only the most recent five years of Dallas ISD SAT and ACT scores are available online. This information is inserted in the chart above for these 5 years: 2006 through 2011. While any progress regarding academic achievement is less than clear in this data, the graduation rate progress year to year is very clear and constant as indicated in the graph below:
Graph of 5 measurements of graduation rate progress in Dallas ISD
Right click on above graph to enlarge and/or print.
The very good news is that with this significant improvement in the graduation rate in Dallas ISD over the past 5 years the adacemic progress did not go backwards.  That is certain.  As more students remain through graduation it has often happened that academic scores have gone down.  That did not happen in Dallas ISD!  It can be argued that there was some academic improvement.  It is a fact that the percentages of students taking the ACT and SAT exams grew.

Dallas ISD scores are below the state average. The average 2011 composite ACT score for Texas was 20.8 with 36% of graduates taking the exam.  The average SAT math and science score in Texas in 2011 was 967 with 58% participation.  Dallas ISD has work to do, but we are doing it!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dallas ISD Graduation Rate Progress 2007 to 2012

Dallas ISD has made more progress in raising the graduation rate during the past 5 years than at any time in over 40 years!

There are five annual measurements related to student transition. They each contribute to the improvement of the graduation rate. These five measurements have almost all been consistently improving since 2007!  During these 5 years, only one of these 25 measurements (5 measurements for each of 5 years) was not an improvement from the previous year! 

To provide some perspective: during the previous 5 years, 2002 to 2007, those same 25 measurements contained 12 measurements that were not an improvement from the previous year.  The next 5 years, from 2007 to 2012, only had one of the 25 measurements that was not an improvement from the previous year!  This is a represents an exceptional achievement for the families in Dallas! 

DISD certainly now has the most greatly improved student graduation rate of any public school district in Texas, and probably the nation! However, DISD started at a tragic low point of only a 40% graduation rate.  Also, graduation rate data does not directly reflect academic achievement. Academic achievement measurements need to be added to this assessment. A more complete measurement of progress is needed.

Regarding the graduation rate improvement documented, the 5 measurements being tracked are as follows:

1) The 9th grade bulge is the percentage that the 9th grade enrollment swells due to student failures and therefore becomes larger than the original 8th grade enrollment. For decades the DISD 9th grade enrollment had been an average of over 30 percentage points larger than the 8th grade enrollment from the year before. This percentage began to improve and go down in 2006.  It is now down to 9.3%.  See more details of this progress at .

2) The Promotion rate from 9th to 10th grade is the percentage of 9th grade enrollment reflected in 10th grade enrollment. For decades this promotion rate was always less than 67%. In 2006 it started to rise.  It is now 87%. Prior to 2006 most dropouts never made it to the 10th grade. That is no longer true.  DISD now has the largest 10th grade enrollments in decades!

3) The Promotion rate from 9th to 12th grade is the percentage of 9th grade enrollment reflected in 12th grade enrollment. For decades much less than 50% of the 9th grade enrollment in DISD was making it to enroll in the 12th grade. This promotion rate gave DISD the questionable distinction of having 100% of our 21 non-magnet high schools qualify as “dropout factories” in the nationwide 2007 John Hopkins University study! Now about half of DISD non-magnet high schools are no longer "dropout factories."  This year the current full DISD 12th grade enrollment represents over 64% of the 9th grade enrollment from 2008/2009, a significant improvement.

4) The “raw graduation rate" is the percentage of the full original 9th grade enrollment represented in the final number of diplomas given out four years later in a high school. With the graduation class of 2011, for the first time in over 20 years, this “raw graduation rate” number for DISD went over 50%.  It was 52.4%. For every 1,000 students enrolled in the DISD 9th grade class of 2007/2008, there were 524 diplomas given out to that same group as the DISD Class of 2011! Due to the elimination of the 9th grade bulge this “raw graduation rate” will continue to rise for the DISD graduating classes of 2012 and 2013. It should be above 60% soon, and hopefully then above 70% within a few more years.

5) The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the same calculation as the “raw graduation rate” except that the four measurments used are the promotion rates from within one calendar year for each of the four student groups: 9th graders making it to 10th grade, 10th graders making it to 11th, 11th grade students making it to 12th, and 12th graders receiving a diploma. Consequently the CPI is the most timely and predictive of the graduation rate measurements. It can more reliably be used to test results from recent changes in a school. The CPI for DISD had only once gone above 50% prior to 2009. That was for the Class of 2005.  Then it fell to 40.7% in 2006.  It then slowly begin improving every year, until achieving 64.5% for the Class of 2011. This represents a rise of over 23 percentage points since the class of 2006, by far the most progress in the CPI for any of the ISD's in Dallas County!

To repeat: during the 5 years from 2007 to 2012 these five measurements for these 5 years represent 25 measurements. Only one of these 25 measurements was not an improvement from the previous year. (See chart below.) During the 5 years from 2002 to 2007 these same 25 measurements provided only 13 measurements that were improvements with 12 that were steps backwards.  With this comparison it is easy to see how these past 5 years have been an exceptionally positive time for Dallas ISD.

The reasons for these improvements are not be addressed here, only the reality that they happened.  That improvement is well reflected in the following spreadsheet:
Right-click on above chart to enlarge and/or print.
The 25 squares in the lower right hand corner of the above chart, those surrounded by the dark border, represent these valuable 25 measurements.  These come from the five measurements made each calendar year of student movements that are critical measurements building toward the ultimate graduation rate for any ISD. (The last two measurements for the current academic year for DISD will not be available until the number of diplomas given is available.  It is almost certain they will be improvements over last year.)

Only one of these most recent 25 measurements is in a gray-tint cell on this chart, which tint shows that the measurement in that cell was NOT an improvement from the previous year. During the previous 5 years, from 2002 to 2007, 12 of the 25 measurements were worse than the previous year with only 13 being improvements.  Now it is virtually certain that 24 measurements of the 25 since 2007 will show improvements from the previous year!

It is doubtful that any other ISD in the DFW metroplex has more of these most recent 25 measurements that are positive for their district that does DISD.  DISD is the leader.  That progress must NOT stop!

Anyone who detects errors in, or who has questions about this chart, is encouraged to email me, Bill Betzen, at . If you want an Excel copy of this spreadsheet to work with to help in searching for errors, just let me know and that will be provided.  I welcome help in double checking for errors.  All such assistance is greatly appreciated!

Today, 5-12-12, Mercedes Olivera, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, published a wonderfully accurate column, linked here, on the progress made by DISD.  Her column reflected the main statistics affecting student graduation rates since 2007. 

Below is a chart that reflects the progress over the past decade related to these 5 measurements.  In order to complete this chart the "9th grade bulge" was not used.  Instead a measurement that reflects a similar calculation was used.  It is a calculation of the percentage of first time 9th graders in the 9th grade class.  It is the percentage of the previous years 8th grade reflected in current 9th grade enrollment. Note the improvements on this chart over the past 5 years.

Dallas ISD Graduation Rate Progress 2002-2012
Right-click to enlarge for study or printing.
The warning present in the above chart is that both the CPI improvement and the "Raw Graduation Rate" appear to be leveling off.  It is possible we may now begin to see the effects of the massive layoffs of teachers due to the $5.4 billion in cuts from the 2011 Texas Legislative session.  Any effects from those losses should begin to show up in these statistics over the next year.  These numbers reflect what is happening to our children.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Celebrating History

3-3-12 parade opening Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
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As Dallasites embrace and celebrate our history, as in this West Dallas parade with images of some of the West Dallas leaders who went before us, we will better work toward our own future, and thrive!  This is the most powerful lesson we can share with our students.

This month thousands of parents and children will be writing letters about the past and the future, working to master this same powerful lesson. 

Parents will be writing letters to their middle school and high school age children about their dreams for them.  They are encouraged to include stories from their family history to possibly explain their dreams for their child.  Students will then bring these priceless letters to school to use in working on their own letters to themselves about their dreams and goals for the future.  Eighth graders and 12th graders will be writing about their plans for 10 years into the future. Then these letters will both be placed into one self addressed envelope for each student.  Then these envelopes are placed into time capsules at each school until the first 10-year class reunions, separate 10-year reunions for middle school and for high school.

At these reunions students know they will receive their letters back.  They know they will also be asked to then speak with current students about their recommendations for success.  They are warned to prepare for questions such as "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"  

Hopefully conversations surrounding this process will help it become easier to understand the value of history, goals, study, and work.   This will be a very busy month at three middle schools and two high schools in Dallas.