Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dallas ISD Record Setting Progress 2007-2012 was stopped in 2013!

From 2007 to 2012 Dallas ISD enjoyed the five most progressive years of achievement in the memory of anyone now living! 
Dallas ISD Progress from 2007 to 2012 that stopped in 2013!
(Click on above chart to enlarge and/or print.)
While DISD "college ready" rates edged up far too slowly, all of the graduation rate measurements soared!  This combination increased the number of college ready graduates over 60% from 1996 to 2012, during the same years that Anglo-non-Hispanic enrollment in Dallas ISD dropped 60%.

Dallas ISD graduation rates improved faster than the rest of the state of Texas in all demographic groups served from 2007 to 2011. This is well documented by a set of 12 graphs posted on the Dallas ISD web site in 2012.   They are linked from the bottom of the page at the first hit on the DISD web site when you google "Dallas ISD's graduation and dropout rates"

Sadly this monumental progress ended in 2012.  Since 2012 the rate of progress has reverted to a struggle similar to the one DISD was having prior to 2007.   This is illustrated by tracking the ups and downs of 6 different measurements of student movement in the above chart.  It covers each academic year for the past 12 years.

When any of these six measurements are in a cell with a red, or grey, background that means the number has gone down and progress has been lost since the previous school year.  Notice that the years from 2007 to 2012 were filled with 29 out of 30 measurements that were all improvements from the previous school year!  Both before 2007 and since 2012 the mixture of positive and negative measurements is mixed about 50/50.  The 5 years from 2007 to 2012 were the most productive years for graduation rate progress in the history of DISD!

Since 2012 it appears this progress in Dallas ISD has ended.

Six measurements from row 16 to row 21 in the above chart:

Row 16: “Bulge reduction - last year’s 8th as a percentage of current 9th” is a measurement that reflects how well 8th graders are prepared for 9th grade work, and how well 9th graders are managed, so as to not repeat 9th grade.   For over 30 years the so-called “ninth grade bulge” has cursed school districts across Texas, especially urban districts.  For decades DISD would have only 11,000 students in the 8th grade but would then have more than 14,000 9th graders due to failures.  This bulge was slowly eliminated from 2007 to 2011! That progress stopped during the 2012/13 school year and it appears DISD is going backward according to measurements for the current 2013/14 school year.

Row 17: “Percent of last yrs 9th grade in current 10th reflects the reality that for decades most dropouts never made it to the 10th grade. That is no longer true. DISD passed the 70% barrier in 2009 for this measurement for the first time, and has never gone back that low. This is a measurement that continued to improve though this year.  It is now over 89%!

Row 18: “12th as a percent of 9th, all same year" is a short-hand measurement of how a school is doing with their graduation rate.  Just compare 12th grade enrollment with 9th grade enrollment at any school.  The bigger the difference the greater the problem.  For decades DISD had total senior enrollment that represented less than half the 9th grade enrollment.  DISD passed the 50% barrier during the 2007/08 school year, zoomed up to 73.8% by 2011/12, but has now reverted back to pre-2010 levels!

Row 19“Promotion Rate: 12th grade enrollment as a percentage of original full 9th grade enrollment” is a measurements widely used by
the John Hopkins University Professor John Balfanz and colleagues who established the term “Dropout Factory” back in 2007 using this measurement formula.  At that time all DISD non-magnet high schools were classified as “dropout factories.”  That is no longer true due to significant progress made.

Row 20: “Graduation Rate: Diplomas as a percentage of original full 9th grade enrollment” passed the 50% barrier for the first time with the Class of 2011.  Due to the progress eliminating the 9th grade bulge, the 60% barrier will probably be passed this year in DISD unless progress deteriorates more than anticipated.

Row 21: "CPI Cumulative Promotion Index" is the most valuable of all six measurements.  It’s the most timely, complete, and predictive.  It shows what is happening now, and what may happen in the near future. The CPI only uses measurements collected within one calendar year for each of the four student groups in any high school: 9th graders moving to 10th grade, 10th moving to 11th, 11th moving to 12th and 12th graders who graduate.  The DISD CPI rose from 40.7% for the Class of 2006 to 66.1% for the Class of 2012.  After six years of constantly higher CPI measurements, the 3.6 percentage point drop to 62.5% for the Class of 2013, a measurement lower than any class since 2009, is a stern warning that things are not well now in Dallas ISD.  (CPI also dropped over 15 percentage points under Mike Miles in Harrison!)
The above data and details make up two sides of a handout that will be circulated as "home rule" is being considered.   We must return to, and exceed, the rate of improvement that happened 2007 to 2012!  Any questions about the above data, especially if you see errors, are welcome!

Two puzzling questions must be included in any discussion before any "home rule" gamble is taken. 
First, why was the flexibility given public schools with House Bill 5 not given more time to be explored in Dallas before this  "home rule" alternative was presented?  
Second, why are HB 5 alternatives not being actively acknowledged and discussed during this debate?

Bill Betzen