Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mandate Dallas ISD Monthly Reports!

While it is positive that the Dallas Home Rule Charter Commission decided to not continue the process to change Dallas ISD into the Dallas Home Rule Charter District, everyone agrees that changes are needed in Dallas ISD.  But, during the Commission meetings the most common phrase spoken by everyone was "We need more information." 

While there is a glut of valuable data on the Dallas ISD and Texas Education Agency web sites for the very few people who know how to navigate those web sites, an ordered monthly system of much more timely DISD reports is missing. 

Dallas ISD Monthly Public Reports should include:
  1. Student movement by school including students entering or leaving DISD, or transferring between schools, including demographic profiles and a third party managed survey to protect privacy asking parents for their three main reasons for the transfer. The monthly report should include notice of DISD schools becoming overcrowded or underutilized due to such movements.
  2. Teacher movement by school including teachers hired and leaving DISD, or transferring between schools, including demographic profiles, CEI averages, and a third party survey to protect privacy of separating teachers asking for their three main reasons for leaving or transferring. The anonymous survey should somehow separate teachers into three general CEI levels to report reasons for leaving by such levels.  (Why is DISD losing their best teachers?)
  3. Use of substitute teachers by school. An additional tabulation must be included by school of the frequency of substitute teachers being needed but not being available, and therefore of any class having to be split up or moved to other locations to spend the day due to the lack of available substitutes. Hopefully all parents of all children involved in such neglect on the part of DISD were informed the same day such incidents happening. Such a public monthly report by school and date of occurrence would help assure that such parental notice is happening!
  4. Reports of any districtwide testing results received that month, both by school and for the district, with all the associated details to help in the assessment of performance, should be a normal part of all monthly reports. If the test results are a state test, then how DISD compared with the state averages outside DISD must be provided to help place the data in perspective.
These reports should be designed, then completed going back at least five years, and then archived online so month to month and year to year patterns are easy to observe.  

Dallas should have no more nasty surprises such as the HR crisis made visible the last week of January, 2015.  Such monthly reports would have indicated long ago that there are problems!  Dallas would have seen the reasons parents were moving students and the reasons that teachers were leaving, and the reasons the best teachers were leaving, and the testing results going down in DISD relative to the rest of Texas. 

Monthly reports must be designed, approved by the trustees, and then consistently attached to the DISD Board Agenda to be presented as part of the Superintendents' Report at each school board meeting.   As issues evolve in DISD the format of monthly reports can be modified, with board guidance and approval, to meet changing needs. 

Without a much more consistent system for transparency, reforms being attempted inside DISD have little meaning.  The potential for problems to be hidden and grow increases with the level of secrecy as Dallas is now witnessing, repeatedly!
Immediately after writing this blog I began to study the annual reports for DISD on which there is supposed to be a "public hearing" at 5:30 this afternoon.  I called to speak and was told I had to call yesterday.  Nobody else was signed up to speak at this "public hearing."  So I sent the following email to the DISD Board with the attached spreadsheet I created from the data in one of the reports that was supposed to be discussed today.  This data was not discussed at this evenings hearing and the hearing closed with the president's statement that "since there were no speakers the meeting is adjourned." 

This is an example of the current transparency inside DISD that MUST END!

Two in the audience had tried to sign up to speak today with no success due to the 24 hour rule.

Sent: 1/22/2015 2:29:46 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: Todays' 5:30 public discussion of TAPR Annual Reports


Dear President Solis and all DISD Trustees,

I regret that I did not call in time to address the Texas Academic Performance Report today.  I have been studying the report and have focused on the summary chart on page 3 of the report on DISD.  It is linked from the TEA web site found in the slides that are part of today's presentation.   Hopefully you will be addressing the significant decline in DISD student performance in all subjects compared to the State of Texas achievements from 2013 to 2014.

Attached please find that summary chart with one column inserted showing how much DISD fell behind in every subject from 2013 to 2014.  I will be present for the hearing if there are any questions, but I understand that your time schedule is tight, almost as if you expected there to be nobody from the public making comments.  

Some of you have been complaining in public that too little of the time at your meetings are spent discussing student achievement. I agree. This is a time to change that. 

I am very disappointed that it was not more clear that public comments could be made and when you had to sign up to talk. I called today and was too late. It is almost as if DISD Administration wanted to keep this hearing hidden so nobody paid attention to the declines in student achievement and the frightening data in these reports. 


Bill Betzen, volunteer 
Dallas ISD Achievement Data

Annual comparisons of DISD academic progress with Texas for the past 8 years are needed so Dallas residents have a much clearer view of the direction DISD schools are going.