Friday, June 21, 2013

DISD Middle Schools: 65 teachers lost in budget!

In the currently planned 2013/14 budget for Dallas ISD 65 teachers will be cut from middle schools! One more student is added to the average teacher.  Since DISD middle schools already account for 60% of all discipline referrals within DISD this is a planned disaster! While 9th graders, due to other progress, now account for less than 14% of all referrals, both the 6th and 7th grade each account for over 19% of all discipline referrals, and 8th graders account for 21%!  Compared to the number of referrals in the 5th grade, in the 6th grade discipline referrals increase 441%!!!
Disciplinary actions against students by grade, Dallas ISD, 2012/13
Click on the above image to enlarge.
The discipline problems in middle school are nothing new.  Yes, parents are watching, and have been watching for some time! Notice how the number of children being withdrawn from DISD after 5th grade has been increasing, especially since 2006 when the transfer of 6th grade into middle school started:
Students leaving Dallas ISD after 5th and 9th grade over past decade.
Click on above chart to enlarge.

This chart also shows the wonderful progress DISD has made with the transfer into high school and then from 9th grade to 10th grade. We are now loosing less than half of the students we used to loose during this critical transfer. Our 10th grade enrollments are some of the largest in DISD history while the 9th grade enrollments are some of the lowest in decades due to the elimination of the "9th grade bulge."  That "9th grade bulge" was created by 9th graders failing and repeating 9th grade, sometimes even more than twice.   We now have more students getting past this barrier and graduating than at any time in 30+ years!  That is the good news.

But patterns relating to the discipline problems in middle schools have been documented across the nation and ignored in DISD. Thousands of middle schools have closed over the past 20 years. School districts have paid attention to mounting research that middle schools are damaging to children. (See a collection of such research at .) 
But the immediate crisis in DISD is the current budget!

This Thursday, June 27, 2013 the proposed 2013/14 budget will be approved with a 65 teacher decrease planned for middle schools, moving from 24/1 to 25/1 student/teacher ratios. This move will only increase the damage to achievement already happening in DISD middle schools.  Discipline problems will only get worse in middle schools.  They are the only schools loosing teachers in spite of the increased funding from Austin.  More teachers will resign from middle schools.  We must work to reverse this tragedy set to happen in DISD.  We cannot ignore our middle school children!
Please contact your DISD Board Member to correct this assault on DISD middle schools!  Contacting them makes a very real difference!
Call DISD Board Services by Wednesday to speak at 6/27/13 5:00 PM Board Meeting to give opinion of 2013/14 Budget as presented in public PowerPoint presentation. See for agenda.

Addendum 6-28-13:

The Board Meeting went past midnight, ending just after 1:00 AM this morning.  The 65 middle school positions will be saved!  Six out of the 8 Board members voted to support an amendment to the budget to restore the middle school formula to 24-1.  That amendment will be drafted for final approval in August.  Thus the 9,585 positions in this budget will be amended to 9,650 positions with this amendment in August.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Time-Capsules installed, or moved, to date in 2013

The year 2013 has already been the most active year for vault installations, and it's not over yet! For the first time a vault had to be moved due to building re-modeling.  This was at Browne Middle School.  Since vaults are bolted to the floor that involved opening the vault, removing all the letters and shelving, loosening the bolts so the vault could be removed from the location, and sheering off the bolts in floor level.
T. W. Browne Middle School Time-Capsule
The Browne Middle School Time-Capsule was then moved to a new location, just outside the front office and in a good location passed by all students several times a day. It was then bolted once again into the concrete foundation. If a toronado ever destroyed one of these schools, the 500-pound vault would remain fastened to the foundation.

To date in 2013 there have been three Time-Capsule installations of new vaults.  The first was at Rosemont K-8 school:
Rosemont K-8 Time-Capsule
The first 8th grade class will be in 2015.
The Time-Capsule project started in 2005.  It is rather symbolic to now have a time-capsule with the first year being 2015. Rosemont is transitioning into a K-8 school with this years 6th grade going forward to be that first 8th grade class, in 2015.  
The next installation was at Atwell Middle School. Atwell teachers had already had students planning for the future and writing their letters for the vault.  Therefore there are letters already on the 2013 shelf.  (Note: due to the national demand for vaults there is a normal month or more delay for installation.)
W. H. Atwell Middle School Time-Capsule

South Oak Cliff High School was the next installation:

South Oak Cliff High School Time Capsule

Lobby at South Oak Cliff High School with Time-Capsule

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dallas ISD Discipline Reports by Middle School 2012-13

From 2005/06 to 2012/13 the percentage of all discipline referrals within DISD that were made against middle school students grew from about 40% of the total to almost 60%.  The bulk of this increase happened due to the movement of 6th grade into middle school.  Sixth grade referrals increased from 5.6% to 19.4% of all referrals. 

The following report covers discipline reports for each middle school and covers only the first semester of the 2012/13 school year.  It gives a very solid idea as to the distribution of discipline problems for each middle school.
Disciplinary actions per student in DISD Middle Schools 2012/13
Right click on image to enlarge or print.
This is ONLY a report on the official reports made. There are variations from school to school as to how the principal allows reports to enter the DISD system, but generally this gives some idea of differences between schools.   Some schools have ended their in-school suspension alternatives due to staffing cuts. In some cases this appears to have resulted in more out of school suspensions, but more study is needed.   If anyone wants to join with me in exploring this data I would gladly freely share the Excel data files that were released to me by DISD following upon an open records request.  Just email me at and state what you are requesting. 

Dallas must bring these numbers down.  Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) must be used so that our classrooms, especially in middle schools, become more quiet and peaceful places of learning.

Monday, June 10, 2013

DISD Budget & Middle School Chaos

The current version of the 2013/14 Dallas ISD budget is adding one student per teacher at the middle school level.  That is an idea that will only add to the record level of chaos already damaging achievement in DISD middle schools!

The three middle schools grades have the most discipline problems of any grade in DISD.  They EACH already account for over 19% of all DISD referrals, EACH!  6 out of every 10 referrals in DISD originate against middle school students!  This is not what used to happen when the old "highest referral grade" was the 9th grade going back decades.  The 9th grade now for the second year in a row only accounts for less than 14% of all referrals.  This progress happened since 9th grade coordinators worked to eliminate the damaging "9th grade bulge."  Now all of those 9th grade coordinator positions have been eliminated.  Will the 9th grade bulge return?

Until we can decrease the discipline problems in middle schools, we must not add another student to each middle school teacher's workload.  Middle school teachers are already dealing with multiple times more discipline problems than the average DISD teacher!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

School Time-Capsule Project is 9 years old!

Students must set their own goals for themselves, then follow up on them and constantly update. Nobody can do this for students, but some schools are more directly encouraging and supporting the process.

This week we celebrated the 9th year of a student motivation project called the School Time-Capsule Project, also known as the School Archive Project.  Our first students from 2005 will return within 18 months to pick up their letters from 2005, and speak with current students!

Last month the 400+ 8th graders from Quintanilla Middle School placed their completed letters onto the 2013 shelf for their class inside the vault. Next year the 2014 shelf will be filled. The vault will then be filled with over 3,500 letters. The 10-year reunions will begin!

In November of 2014 we will have the reunion of the 8th grade class from 2005 who wrote their letters almost a decade ago! What wisdom will they share as they speak of their recommendations for success to the students at Quintanilla in November of 2014?   How will they answer the questions: "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"   It will be fascinating! 

This will be another major step in overcoming the vision deficit common in children from poverty. They rarely see what life can be like with education, the goal of this project.  The returning students, speaking of their lives and recommendations, will send that message loud and clear.  It is the message sent since this project started in 2005.

Here is a link to a more detailed report on what has happened to Quintanilla Middle School students since 2005.  It can also be more briefly stated as follows:
  1. One state-wide ranking of middle schools this year listed Quintanilla at the top of all 19 non-magnet middle schools on the south side of Dallas!
  2. The 2012/13 first semester number of discipline reports are down to less than 1/3 of what it was in 2009.
  3. The student pregnancy rate has dropped to a tiny fraction of what it was in 2005, only one pregnancy in the 2012/13 school year!
  4. Most of Quintanilla students have always gone to Sunset High School, where the graduation rate (percent of full 9th grade enrollment reflected in final graduation class) was 33% in 2006 and rose constantly to the 2013 graduation rate of over 68%!   Sunset enrollment in April 2013 was 579 freshmen and 522 seniors, or a senior class that was 90% of the freshman class, the best balance for any non-magnet high school over 1,500 students in DISD!
This progress happened for multiple reasons, not only this Time-Capsule Project, but due to many projects and professionals working on a common goal.  It also happened in spite of Quintanilla having one of the highest poverty rates (95.7%) and LEP (49%) rankings in all of DISD.

The power of a constantly stronger, ever more realistic, focus on the future by students is obvious.  They more actively work toward their own future when they can see it, and when they can see how to get there!  They do the work!  See project details at

There are now vaults installed, and School Time-capsule Projects going, in three DISD high schools, Pinkston, Sunset, and South Oak Cliff, and in almost all middle schools in these three feeder patterns, for a total of 10 schools.