Saturday, November 8, 2014

What damage will Mike Miles leave behind in Dallas ISD?

Dallas ISD rarely deteriorates enough during the tenure of a superintendent to generate significant news coverage of that damage as a superintendent leaves.  That will change when Mike Miles leaves!

An article from Colorado dated April 5, 2012 started that discussion in Colorado when Mike Miles' leaving Harrison School District Two to move to Dallas was announced. They printed the following:
Has he (Mr. Mike Miles) been worth that much? ($260,000 annually)  Probably not. District 2 should be in the middle, not at the top, in executive-level compensation.
D-2's board has a chance to rectify that now. It also can re-evaluate Miles' methods, especially the teacher evaluations and whether D-2 might have discarded low-performing students to help overall test scores.
In Harrison School District Two there was ultimately no re-evaluation. The changes Mike Miles instituted remained. Teacher turnover is still now over 30%.   The shrinking 12th grade enrollment has stayed down in Harrison since the 33% reduction in 12th grade enrollment during the last 5 years Mr. Miles was there.  With the resulting smaller graduation classes, as failing students were pressured to leave, Mr. Miles had been able to raise ACT average scores.  Most of the leaving Harrison students went to District 11 nearby where ACT score averages went down.

Trustee Mike Morath and other trustees were very impressed with that average ACT improvement in Harrison.  Apparently they were not aware of the 33% reduction in 12th grade enrollment at the same time, or of Harrison students from these classes being tested leaving Harrison for District 11 where the ACT averages went down.  They have never spoken about the 33% 12th grade reduction in Harrison.  Only the rise in the average ACT score in Harrison impressed them. 

Once in Dallas, an attempt was made to try to impress Dallas with suddenly rising ACT scores the first year Miles was here, but when the still mysterious, first time ever, 20+% reduction in minority students taking the ACT was made public, any attempt by Miles to benefit from such claims quickly disappeared. 

Dallas has not yet allowed Mr. Miles to reduce 12th grade enrollment more than 6%.  While DISD is now testing almost the entire class, with over 2,400 more students taking SAT exams last year, the number getting "college ready" scores above 990 has gone down by 195 students in DISD under Mr. Miles.

When Dr. Hinojosa left, DISD had reason to celebrate the progress made during his tenure.  The graduation rate had set new records constantly during his final years, and that progress peaked with the Class of 2013, two graduation classes after he left in June of 2011! Rarely, if ever, has a superintendent left behind such a positive legacy.  He had allowed DISD staff to develop programs that focused on the painful middle school/high school transition.  The 14,500 9th grade student "bulges" that were common following 8th grade enrollments below 11,000 began to disappear as the 9th grade failure rates, and resulting high discipline problem rates, began to go down in 2009.   This was real progress, but it did not receive the media and public attention it should have received.

What will Mike Miles leave behind?  It appears to be the following:
  1. Graduation rates going down as the progress from 2007 to 2012 has been reversed with a returning larger "9th grade bulge." For the first time in 7 years in DISD, in 2014, a graduation class was smaller than the previous years class. It was over 400 students smaller! The growth has stopped.
  2. Teacher turnover has broken all time records and is still growing.  Final reports for 2014/15 may show over a 35% turnover.  
  3. While average teacher salaries have gone down as tenured teachers were pushed out of DISD, over-priced administrative positions with record breaking salaries have multiplied, leaving behind 175 administrators in highly paid positions filled with many relatively in-experienced staff with meager resumes for the work they are doing.  The justification for these higher salaries is especially questionable due to deteriorating student achievement happening under their leadership.
  4. Crowded classrooms are accepted as normal.
  5. The number of "improvement required" schools is one of the highest in DISD history, increasing 26% after the 2013/14 school year alone!  At the same time in the number of "improvement required" schools in the rest of Texas went down 5%.  The large majority of urban districts in Texas improved as Dallas deteriorated!
  6. College Readiness rates dropped for the first time in over 8 years since 195 fewer students received SAT scores of 990 or above!

What other damage will be left behind in DISD as Miles leaves?   Dallas must have this discussion.