Monday, September 23, 2013

Email sent Dallas ISD Board re: Mike Miles' Data Manipulations

See more precise numbers at bottom of posting.  Corrections are inserted into the memo  =============

Dear Dallas ISD Trustees,

When Mr. Miles handed out the 2013 student performance measurements he probably spoke of the improvements, and mentioned the 1 point rise in the ACT score from 17 to 18. Did he also speak of how it was probably affected by a disproportionate, 23.7% (20.9%), decrease in the number (percentage) of Black students tested, and an 18% (24%) decrease in the number (percentage) of Hispanic students tested? It also is clear that the numbers of students tested decreased the most in schools with a history of low test scores? Do you really think that was an accident, especially after Mike Miles' history in Colorado?

It appears you may be considering something less than the termination of Mr. Miles employment this week. I'm certain you are under much pressure from many sources. Please share this email with anyone giving you such pressure to keep Miles, and especially with anyone who would be inclined to either help disprove or verfy the data being presented here. Our student's progress demands accurate data, with accurate interpretations of that data!

Student progress also demands the public know the data. Therefore this email to you is also being shared widely.

I've recently spoken with professionals who knew the former El Paso Superintendent, Lorenzo Garcia, now in federal prison for the first year of his 42 months sentence: The manipulations Mr. Garcia orchestrated were terrible. There are many lessons to be learned by studying the El Paso investigation of Mr. Garcia. First is that it took years to finish that investigation. The second lesson is that Mike Miles may be joining him in prison if the Harrison District allegations from Colorado, accumulated during the 6 years Mike Miles was there, combined with multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence pointing the same way, are found to be correct.

About 2 months ago I reported my findings from investigating Harrison School District Two to the Department of Education in Denver. They have sent it to a division for study, but warned me that any potential investigation will take months before I'm even contacted again. I'm told that is normal by multiple sources. There is only minor evidence that Mr. Miles has done in Dallas any of the things that Mr. Lorenzo Garcia did in El Paso, or that it appears Mike Miles did in Colorado. But Dallas must be vigilant. To see the evidence from Colorado go to

One initial warning for the people of Dallas comes with the first testing under Mike Miles, the 2013 testing in Dallas ISD. For the first time in history the percentage of students taking the ACT has fallen significantly, 18.7%, for the 2013 ACT testing session under Miles. Ever since the DISD data packets, found on the web page , have been reporting on ACT testing, starting in the 2009-2010 report going back to 2007, DISD has increased the numbers of student taking the ACT every single year by hundreds of students. Then Mr. Miles stopped that progress in 2013!

Only 2,436 students took the ACT in Dallas in 2013, a decrease of 18.7% from the 2,995 who took the test in 2012. But, even more significantly, 23.7% fewer Black students took the 2013 exam, 18.0% fewer Hispanic students took the exam and 2.6% fewer White students took the exam. This data is from page 218 of the 2013/2014 planning report at

Do you think this is an “accident” that allowed the ACT score reported by Mr. Miles to go up 5.6%? No, that was planned and orchestrated by Mike Miles by eliminating low scoring schools and over 550 students from the testing in Dallas ISD.It also allowed him to speak of a reduction in the “racial gap.” Did he clarify that this “reduction” in the gap was because the average Anglo rate went down one full point, going from 24 to 23? Since the 2013/14 Data Packet for Planning that is on the above linked DISD web page is now, for the first time in history, only reporting ACT scores in whole numbers, with no decimals, the accuracy/transparency of these measurements is reduced, also for the first time. Consequently the scores for both African American students and Hispanic students did not change this past year, Anglo scores went down one point, and somehow the district average went up one point. This is probably a result of rounding, but why was that decimal point of accuracy elminated?

If Mr. Miles has already pointed out to the DISD Board that Black students were disproportionately under-represented in the 2013 ACT exams, then we may be more comforted. Sadly, it appears that he did not point that out to the Board.

Does anyone see behavior that is consistent with some of the manipulations Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was doing in El Paso before he went to prison? ... or what Mike Miles was doing back in Harrison School District Two before he came to Dallas?

We have a problem in Dallas ISD. This week is probably the last chance DISD will have to end the contract with Mike Miles without the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars with a significant separation package going with him, unless the Colorado Federal Department of Education actually starts an investigation and it goes much faster than is anticipated, and charges are filed against Mr. Miles.

Dallas must not wait for that. Our students have been waiting for too long! They have no time to waste. You must vote to end the employment of Mike Miles with DISD this week.

I welcome any questions. Contacts are especially welcome from anyone who can help verify this data, or disprove the interpretations I am giving this data. Share this page with anyone who may be able to help, or who is interested.

Bill Betzen LMSW (Emeritus)
blogger & retired DISD teacher
Dallas, Texas 75237

==========  Correction to above email ===========

I have been posting data regarding Mike Miles and the negative effect of his manipulations on DISD students performance for many months. I'm often attacked by those defending Mr. Miles, but I have never had anyone actually attack my data and correct my calculations until now. Mike Morath made a very accurate critique of my calculations.   He pointed out that the 23.7% fewer Black students tested by Mr. Miles in 2013 compared to 2012 was also associated with a significant drop in Black 12th grade enrollment. 

I agreed with Mike Morath's correction. The calculations needed to be more precise due to that decrease in Black student enrollment. Comparing total number changes was not precise. Instead we needed to use a comparison of the percentage of Black students allowed to take the ACT in 2012 and with that percentage in 2013. Both Mr. Morath and I recalculated the correct number as a 20.9% decrease in the percentage of Black students tested in 2013. Still bad, but more accurate than the 23.7% number using only the raw decrease in 2013 numbers.

In the same way, while the Black enrollment was going down, so was the 12th grade White student enrollment, and the Hispanic 12th grade student population grew from 5,022 in 2012 to 5,417 in 2013. Therefore the correct decrease in the percentage of Hispanic students tested is 24%, and not the 18% I had originally reported in my initial report. Using that same method, the percentage of White students actually increased. It did not go down 2.6% as initially calculated. The percentage of White students taking the ACT went up 0.7% in 2013. I would presume the percentage of Asian students also increased, but DISD did not make that data available online.

These corrections much more strongly make the point that the claimed improvement in the ACT score from 2012 to 2013, going from 17 to 18, is even more suspicious! The highest scoring population group was better represented in the sample group while the lowest scoring sections of the student population both were reduced over 20%. Black students percentages taking the test were reduced by 20.9% and Hispanic percentages were reduced by 24%. Why? That is a question for Mr. Miles that must be answered.

These calculations underline the horror of the manipulations in DISD under Mike Miles! They are what DISD should have expected due to similar manipulations used in Colorado by Mr. Miles to raise ACT scores there.

Thank you Mike Morath for helping improve the precision of these numbers.