Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hispanic Student Progress in Dallas ISD: Closing the Gap!

August 13, 2012 the Dallas Independent School District released 18 charts documenting the wonderful progress in DISD closing the gap with all the other schools in Texas.  From 2007 to 2011 DISD students improved all their graduation rate numbers at about twice the rate as the rest of the students in Texas.  But the best news is that the Hispanic students in DISD improved at the best rate of all student groups! 

Hispanic Student Progress, Dallas ISD, 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image to enlarge and/or print)
More details about this wonderful progress can be seen on the DISD web site, just click here.

(A note about data accuracy: Anyone who has read my blogs knows I am very critical of the TEA graduation rate calculations, the same calculations used in these statistics showing student progress.  While I continue to be critical, the formulas I use in the calculations I trust show the same progress that the TEA data shows.  Thus I am certain the progress is happening as reported.  No matter how you calculate graduation rate, we are going forward by almost identical percentages!  That is what counts!  This is not the place to continue the accuracy debate.  The progress is real!)

Dallas has much to be proud of, especially among the 54% of our 106,000 Hispanic students who are classified as LEP.  In 2007 the LEP completion rate for Dallas ISD was 8 percentage points below the state of Texas.  By 2011 this rate was 4.5 percentage points ABOVE the state of Texas!  This demonstrates the power of a hiring focus on bi-lingual staff, and many other factors, that have helped this success happen in Dallas.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dallas ISD: 34 Noisy Schools & 48 Quiet Schools

In 1978 I replaced old windows in my home with double pane windows. I immediately noticed my home was quieter. I could no longer hear the occasional siren in the distance. Yes, I have continued to save hundreds of dollars annually in utility bills these past 34 years, but the change to a more quiet home was immediate!

In July of 2012 I saw renovations happening in a nearby DISD school.  All the windows were being replaced.  It was good to see.  But then I looked more closely.  They were installing single pane windows!  I was amazed! 

I immediately began contacting people.  They were all likewise amazed. Over 30 years after double pane windows had become normal for energy conservation and noise abatement, DISD was still putting single pane windows into a school!  The amazement was universal.  Not a single person I contacted knew this was happening, even DISD Board members!

It was discovered that 82 DISD schools are having windows replaced from the 2008 Bond Program.  Of those, 48 are having double pane windows installed.  But the remaining 34 are schools in "quadrants of the city judged to have high glass breakage."  They are only having single pane windows installed.  The additional expense of replacing broken dual pane windows was given as the reason!

I wonder which "quadrants" have students that are most often distracted in class by sirens?

What is the extra expense of replacing a broken double pane window compared to replacing a single pane window?  Is the difference greater than the monthly utility cost savings from double pane windows in a school?  Is it greater than the improved student achievement from a quieter classroom?  Is it greater than the value of having a stronger window to protect students from anything hitting a window?  Where are these 34 schools located?

I attended the 8-23-12 DISD Board Meeting and spoke before the board about this issue.  Everyone was amazed to hear about these 34 schools.

How will Dallas respond?  Will Dallas allow single pane window installations to continue in the rest of those 34 schools that may not yet have been renovated?

As more information unfolds it will be posted here.

============= update 9-6-12 ============

Today I received in the mail the response to my open records request to DISD.  It appears that the single pane schools are evenly spread throughout the city, and among schools that have roughly the same poverty levels in all schools.   My first concerns have been unfounded. Children appear to be treated equally no matter what their income levels.  In a spreadsheet I have entered a 1 or 2 for single or double pane windows.  I also entered the Free and Reduced Lunch percentage for each of these schools.  Then the lists were separated and the difference was found to be minimal: an average of 84.6% free or reduced lunch percentage in the schools with newly installed single panes and an average of 85.3% free or reduced lunch program for those schools which received the double pane windows.  The distribution is good and appears to be virtually equal for poverty levels throughout Dallas.

The other concerns remain:
1) the energy that will continue to be lost in the single pane schools, and
2) the additional noise students will hear from outside the schools with only single pane windows.

Here is a list of the schools that had their windows replaced as part of the 2008 Bond Program. The numbers do not match what I was originally told as reflected in the title of this blog.  If you see an error in the following list, ESPECIALLY if your school is listed one way or the other and it is wrong, please let me know:  It is rather easy to check new windows and verify if they are double or single pane.  Just ask around and finding a person who can demonstrate should be easy.
Here are the schools which received single pane windows:

Adams, Bryan High School Madison, James High School
Allen, Gabe P.1 Elementary Marsalis, Thomas L. Elementary
Bayles Elementary Moseley, Nancy Elementary
Blanton, Annie W. Elementary Peabody, George Elementary
Carr, C.F. Elementary Reilly, Martha T. Elementary
City Park Elementary Reinhardt Elementary
Dorsey, Julius Elementary Roosevelt, F.D. High School
Dunbar, Paul L. Elementary Runyon, John W. Elementary
Gaston, W.H. Middle School Seagoville H. S. High School
Hall, Lenore Kirk Elementary Sequoyah Elementary
Ireland, John Elementary Stockard, L.V. Middle School
Jackson, Stonewall Elementary Urban Park Elementary
Johnston, Albert S. Elementary White, W.T. High School
Lagow, Richard Elementary Wilson, Woodrow High School
Long, J.L. Middle School Callejo, MS Middle School
Longfellow, H.W. Middle School Obama MLA
Macon, B.H. Elementary

Here are the schools which received double pane windows:

Anderson, William Elementary North Dallas High School
Blair, W.A. Elementary Pease, Elisha M. Elementary
Bryan, John Neely Elementary Rice, Charles Elementary
Burleson, Rufus C. Elementary Roberts, Oran M. Elementary
Bushman W.W. Elementary Russell, Clinton P. Elementary
Caillet, F.P. Elementary Seagoville Elementary
Cochran, Nancy Elementary Seagoville M. S. Middle School
Cuellar, Sr., Gilbert Elementary South Oak Cliff High School
Dade, Billy Earl Middle School Stemmons, Leslie A. Elementary
Dealey, George B.(PK-6) Elementary Storey, Boude Middle School
Ervin, J.N. Elementary Sunset High School
Franklin, Benjamin Middle School Terry, T.G. Elementary
Hill, Robert T. Middle School Titche, Edward Elementary
Holmes, Oliver W. Middle School Travis, William B. Middle School
Lee, Umphrey Elementary Walnut Hill Elementary
Marcus, Herbert Elementary Webster, Daniel Elementary
May, Jose Elementary Wilmer Hutchins High School
Miller, William B. Elementary Winnetka Elementary
Mills, Roger Q. Elementary Zumwalt, Sarah Middle School
Again, if you see any errors in these lists and any schools do not have the windows indicated, please let me know.  Double pane windows, if they are of as good a quality as the windows I installed in my home in 1978, should create significantly quieter classrooms compared to single pane windows.

If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet please email me at bbetzen@aol and say you want the single/double pane spreadsheet.

Bill Betzen  9-6-12

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dallas Mosquito Outbreak due to Budget Cuts? Uncertain.

(Since posting the following I have received information that adds to this many other reasons that contribute to this crisis, and places very credible doubts as to the following report on Mr. Becker being a significant factor.  See details below following post.  This does NOT mean the people involved in gathering the following data were less than very well intentioned.  8-24-12 @ 5 PM Bill Betzen)

How the mosquito outbreak was caused by Dallas gov not replacing progressive city entomologist who retired

by Amy Martin on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 5:12pm ·
FYI from AMY MARTIN Passing along info I received on how the mosquito outbreak was caused by Dallas government not replacing progressive city entomologist who retired and how he's back now! I've attached a 2010 news article about Mr Becker.

from Mike McBride - the real story behind the West Nile outbreak

For more than four decades, the City of Dallas employed a degreed entomologist named Will Becker, with a team working under him whose sole responsibility was to control the mosquito population in the Dallas metro area. They accomplished this with the proactive, preventative, cost effective, and organic method of keeping urban bodies of water (ponds, drainage ditches, stagnant creeks, unkempt swimming pools) stocked with schools of Gambusia minnows - a small fish that eats mosquito larvae.

This method was so successful that for 45 years, the need to spray chemical insecticide to control mosquitoes in the Dallas area never arose.

After decades of tireless service to the city, Will Becker retired a couple of years ago. In its infinite wisdom, the City of Dallas decided to dissolve Mr. Becker's department as a cost cutting measure rather than hire a qualified replacement. So the practice of keeping mosquito-friendly bodies of water stocked with larvae eating fish stopped.

Last year's extreme drought dried up nearly all of the urban bodies of water in which mosquitoes thrive, and of course, the abundant rainfall in Dallas during the early part of this year refilled all of those ponds, creeks, ditches, and unkempt pools. An ecosystem in which mosquitoes thrive was reintroduced to the Dallas area, but with the notable absence of the Gambusia minnows that eat their larvae.

The result? The Dallas mosquito population exploded uncontrollably, an outbreak of West Nile virus ensued, 16 people are now dead, hundreds more are extremely sick. Millions of dollars have been spent on the reactive, environmentally threatening method of controlling mosquitoes with chemical spray, and Dallasites routinely wake up to the acrid, pungent scent of insecticide in the air.

Realizing their error in judgment, City of Dallas officials have begged Will Becker out of retirement, his team has been reassembled, and the tedious process of restocking urban bodies of water with minnows who eat mosquito larvae is underway.

Hopefully, when Mr. Becker re-retires, the city will exercise better judgment in its evaluation of the need for his department to continue its operations. As far as I'm concerned, the people who decided to dissolve it in the first place are guilty of murdering 16 people.

How do I know all this? Will Becker is my uncle - my mom's brother. And if you're a Dallasite scared of being bit by a mosquito and tired of inhaling pesticide spray, he's about to be your hero, though he may never get the public recognition he deserves (and frankly, he's a humble man who doesn't want the notoriety.)

One of the saddest elements of this story is that you're hearing it from a South Texas sportscaster on Facebook, and not from a Dallas news outlet. Doesn't say much for the alleged "journalists" who are employed to keep you apprised of such things, or for the spineless city officials who want to keep the truth behind the West Nile problem hidden from citizens who have the right to know about it. you know.

Article from long ago about Will Becker
and his work to keep us healthy
(Right-click and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

===== Fact Checking by Bill Betzen ======

This article is posted here with the permission of Amy Martin at the  The article has been spreading online.  

I emailed Eric Nicholson, who wrote the article inserted above with Will's photo.  He now works for the Dallas Observer.  He emailed me back saying he remembers Will Becker and is following up on this story.  Regarding Will Becker I found this article with his name and Dallas City employment verified on it regarding the minnows he uses:

A fascinating discussion of this article and related details is on Facebook at!/notes/amy-moonlady-martin/how-the-west-nile-problem-was-caused-by-dallas-not-replacing-progressive-city-en/10151029919909163

I have located a Mike McBride who is a South Texas sportscaster.  I've sent a message to ask if he wrote the original article above.

According to a 8-2-12 news report, Gambusia Minnows are in short supply in Tarrant County: .  What is that situation in Dallas County?

Update 8-24-12 @ 5 PM: Today I spoke with another entomologist who very convincingly gave me many other reasons, mostly related to local climate change, for this crisis unrelated to the minnow population which has apparently been maintained both before and after Will Becker was a Dallas City employee. I no longer believe that the minnow population issue is more than a side issue that does not account for the extent of the current crisis. 

An article has been posted this evening by the Dallas Morning News at .  I am unable to locate any information that indicates this article is less than factually correct.   It appears the information was simply mis-interpreted about the importance of the minnows and the connections with Will's retirement.  Many other factors were involved.

If anyone sees any errors above, please email me at with the sources of the correct data so corrections can be posted here. At this time I think we may have the complete story as now posted.

8-24-12  5:00 PM
Bill Betzen

The American Federation of Teachers New Mission Statement

The AFT approved a new "mission statement" for its union, the first revision in several decades, at this summers convention. Here it is in its entirety:
"The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, health care, and public services for our students, their families, and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining, and political activism, and especially through the work our members do."
Wondering what the previous version stated?
"The mission of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, is to improve the lives of our members and their families; to give voice to their legitimate professional, economic, and social aspirations; to strengthen the institutions in which we work; to improve the quality of the services we provide; to bring together all members to assist and support one another; and to promote democracy, human rights, and freedom in our union, in our nation and throughout the world."
What do you make of the difference?

I think it is a wonderful change. It mentions our students!  Why else are teachers in the classroom?  Such a change should make a difference.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dallas ISD improving faster than Texas!

This week a wonderful set of reports were released by Dallas ISD regarding student achievement and graduation rates since 2007.  The first chart below is for all DISD students. It shows Dallas ISD is improving at more than twice the rate of Texas!

Dallas ISD Completion Rates compared with Texas 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
 What used to be a 13.4 percentage point difference between DISD and Texas in 2007  shrank to only a 4.4 percentage point difference in 2011. 

Below are more specific reports for the different population groups who make up DISD.

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for African-American Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for Hispanic Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
Mention must be made of the wonderful progress for our Limited English Proficiency students in Dallas ISD, reflected in the chart below.  The progress has been so positive that DISD is now almost 5 percentage points better than the state of Texas!  We have much to celebrate!
Dallas ISD Completion Rates for LEP (Limited English Proficiency) students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for Female Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for Male Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
Dallas has much to celebrate with these reports, but the progress must continue.  We must continue to improve.  (Copies of the above charts and more are still available online as on 3-15-14 at
Go to the bottom of that page for a link to a 12 page slide show with all of the above charts an a few additional one.)

The above reports are from data that is already 15 months old.  All of this progress happened just before the current $5.4 billion in cuts to Texas schools by the 2011 Texas Legislature began to take effect.  We must now collect current and future data and fill out this Texas 2011 Legislature Report Card below as we watch what is happening in our schools.  Now tens of thousands fewer staff are working and they have over 100,000 more students.
82nd Texas Legislature Report Card 2012-1016
(Right-click and select "open link" to enlarge or print above chart.)

The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the most timely and predictive of the above measurements as it only uses data from the current school year.  All other measurements go back 4 years. With the CPI there are already strong indications that the progress documented on the charts above is about to end.  The CPI has been improving wonderfully for DISD until now.  See the chart below:

Cumulative Promotion Index improvement from previous year
Dallas ISD and Texas

(Right-click and select "open link" to enlarge or print above chart.)
In 2009 and 2010 Texas received almost $4 billion in Federal Stimulus Funds for education that allowed thousands of teachers to be hired. That was almost certainly one of the factors in the improvements documented in the chart above for 2009 and 2010.  Then the staff cuts began to take effect in 2011 and have continued in 2012.

One factor that may continue to improve attendance in Texas Schools is the new deportation waiver program now starting.  It should encourage students to remain in school, and/or return to school, to finish their education.  It may counter some of the negative effects of loosing these tens of thousands of teachers.  Hopefully the improvements will return.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Graduation Rate Dangers, Texas & Dallas

The progress appears to be ending in both Dallas ISD and in all Texas public schools since 2011 and the education cuts. 
Cumulative Promotion Index improvement from the previous year in Texas & Dallas
from 2006 to 2011
(Right-click on above image to enlarge and/or print.)
The graph above shows similar annual improvement patterns for both DISD and all of Texas.  The only difference is that Dallas ISD improved more each year since 2006 than the rest of Texas!

By 10/20/10 a total of $3,978,383,814 in State Fiscal Stabilization funds had been awarded to Texas to be invested in education. It was a factor in the 2009 and 2010 improvements seen in this graph.  Then the loss of thousands of teachers started in 2011 when that year's Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from Texas education funds. The children counted the end of October 2011 were in more crowded classrooms, and it appears that the student numbers in those classrooms had stopped improving.  Those were the students numbers used in calculating the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) for 2010-2011.  The 2010/11 CPI almost stopped the improvements from previous years, but was not yet a negative number.

The loss of teachers due to budget continued and by this November of 2012 we will know if the 2011-2012 CPI goes up or down from last year.

The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the most timely and predictive of the graduation rate measurements.  It only uses student enrollment figures from within the current calendar year, unlike other graduation rate measurements that spread out over as much as four years.  The CPI includes the movements of four groups: that year's 9th graders to the next year's 10th grade, that year's 10th grade to the next year's 11th grade, that year's 11th grade to next year's 12th grade, and that year's 12th graders who make it to graduation that year.  This gives a more timely measurement that better reflects what is happening in the school that year.

The enrollment data and CPI calculations used in the above chart come from two similar charts, one for Texas and one for Dallas.  You can find the chart for Texas at the bottom of the posting at .  The chart for Dallas from which the same CPI measurements were taken can be found at .  The data source for enrollment data used for both Texas and Dallas is the Texas Education Agency Reports Page at .

Pray that the enrollment data secured at the end of October will show CPI improvements for both Dallas, and all of Texas. The progress in student achievement must continue!  (Note: Texas statewide data is not available to the public until March of 2013 so that will delay the calculations for Texas.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

DISD & Texas: Boy-Girl distribution-by-grade compared

The following charts are created from enrollment data for DISD and all of Texas from the TEA web site reporting page at .  Go to Enrollment Reports under Student Reports in the left column on that page.
Boy/Girl Distribution Dallas ISD 2011/12
(Right-click on image, click "open link" to enlarge or print.)
In the above chart for Dallas ISD, notice how the boy/girl percentages flip between the 9th and 10th grade. The slight male majority provided by mother nature is lost as more boys drop out. However, this chart shows much less of a boy/girl ratio imbalance than the chart that would have been created for the enrollment in 2004/05 when the senior class had 8.2% more girls in it than boys. The above chart has only has 1.9% more girls than boys in the 12th grade. The 8.2% difference for the Class of 2005 would not have fitted on this chart, as well as other more extreme differences for other grades in 2004/05.
Boy/Girl Distribution all Texas Schools 2011/12
(Right-click on image, click "open link" to enlarge or print.)
Study the differences in these two charts. DISD is doing better than the rest of Texas in eliminating the large differences in the 9th grade, but then DISD still looses many more boys before graduation than the rest of Texas.  DISD is loosing boys at a more rapid rate in the transition between 8th grade and 10th grade.

This issue will be the topic of a Dallas Morning News Editorial on 8/11/12. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dallas ISD Progress Increasing Male Graduation Rate

Dallas ISD went from a 9th grade enrollment that had 5.4% MORE boys than girls in 2004/05 to one that was only 2.9% more boys by 2011/12. Again, this was in the 9th grade.  Boys have historically had a more difficult time passing out of the 9th grade, but as the 9th grade bulge disappeared, this difference has gone down.

The boy/girl ratios have always flipped on the way to graduation. The 5.4% more 9th grade boys disappeared in 2005 to become 8.2% fewer boys at graduation, a 13.6% difference between 9th and 12th grade in 2005.  That 13.6% 9th grade to 12th grade flip in 2004/05 has now shrunk to only a 4.8% flip in 2011/12.

During these same 7 years, 2005-2012, DISD 12th grade enrollment went from 8.2% FEWER boys than girls, to only 1.9% fewer boys with the Class of 2012! That is real progress in helping all of our students graduate! Go DISD!

Now the boy/girl division is greatest in elementary school!  Does it really deserve that much attention in high school? 
Female/Male Student Distribution by Grade in Dallas ISD 2011-12 School Year.
(Right-click on above image, then click "open link," to enlarge and/or print.)
The above chart shows the difference in the 2011/12 school year, grade by grade, between the percentage of female students (blue) and male students (red). The same snapshot taken in 2004/05 would have been very different, not even fitting on this graph due to the 8.2 percentage point 12th grade difference that would replace the much lower 1.9 percentage point difference now.