Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dallas ISD Trustees and Data

(Email sent 5/4/14 to DISD Trustees)

You were either present to hear or have read the priceless feedback from the DISD Student Summit this past week.  Some of the most valuable feedback was from Adamson sophomore Rebecca Woo who was quoted in the Dallas Morning News as stating:

“There are too many subs in the classroom….  We propose that school ratings should go up or down based on the number of subs that a school has for the year. We shouldn’t have to have subs. The teachers should be there just like us.”

DISD must have such student summits more often. How valid are Ms. Woo’s concerns?  Is such data available daily, or even by the month, for DISD trustees by school and for the entire district?   

DISD now has the ability to notify parents immediately when their child is not in class.  Why not also have such notifications when the teacher is absent?  Actively involved parents, such as DISD claims to want to nurture, would want to know.

Currently it is reported that more teachers than last year are planning to leave DISD.  Teacher turnover has gone from 12.9% to 26.5% over the past 3 years according to data available from
the Annual Data Planning Packets for DISD on the Data Portal at: .  Many speak of turnover in excess of 30% this year.

These Data Packets also record that during the 2011/12 school year the average teacher only missed 6.1 days of class.  That average went up to 7.5 for the 2012/13 school year.  What is that average now with the potentially record numbers of teachers leaving the district?
five most productive years in DISD History, 2008 through 2012, also correlate with much lower teacher turnover.  It now appears DISD is deteriorating. High school student attrition measurements have worsened since the high point of 2012: . 

Student attrition has led to DISD now having the lowest high school enrollment in 5 years!  The DISD Class of 2014 reflects the first reduction in 12th grade enrollment in 7 years.  With the loss of 500 students it is also the biggest drop in 12th grade enrollment in decades!

Such teacher and student attrition patterns have followed our current superintendent for 8 years and through employment in 2 districts.

Dallas ISD will not make needed improvements and reforms if Dallas ISD Trustees refuse to talk about these patterns!  Here are five questions not being publicly discussed. Please provide your thoughts on them. Critiques of the data, as well as the interpretations given in this email, are welcomed:

1) While a strict strategy of not passing low achieving students on to the next grade leads to greater student attrition, it also raises district ACT grade averages.  Such policies, when strictly enforced, increase the number of low achieving students who leave the district.  Do you support such a strategy in DISD?  Is it a priority for you to have more students graduating or a higher average ACT score for DISD?  (The Class of 2014 may be the smallest DISD graduation class in years, but that class will probably have higher average ACT scores.)

2) DISD high school enrollment is now the lowest in 5 years.  As a DISD trustee, what will you do if such secondary level enrollment losses continue in spite of record enrollments at the elementary level?  (High school enrollment dropped over 25% under Mike Miles in Colorado while elementary enrollment rose enough to make up the difference.)

3)  DISD suffered the first drop in senior enrollment in 7 years this year with the Class of 2014. It was the largest such drop in decades!  Does the history of much greater drops in senior enrollment (over 32%) under Mike Miles during his last 4 years in Colorado bother you?  Why or why not?

4) DISD parents can now be notified immediately if their child is absent any school day.  Should the absence of their child's teacher be included in such notices?   Should such data on daily teacher absences and vacancies, by school and for the district, (but NOT by teacher) be tabulated constantly and made public immediately?
5) Will you be vigilant and demand more transparency and precision in numbers used so the public will know when the percentage of students being tested goes down, as happened with a 23% reduction in minority students taking the ACT test this past year? 

Please answer these questions as your thoughts are valuable to Dallas.  You only need to hit reply and insert your answers between each of the above questions.

A listing of the answers received by trustee will be kept online at   (below this posting.)

The fact that answers to these questions are being requested of each DISD Trustee is being shared with the media and the public, and at the above link.

Thank you for all you do for our children.  If, over time, you want to change your answer, updates will gladly be made.  
========== Answers received will be posted below ========