Friday, July 31, 2015

Dallas ISD Bond Election fails w/o transparency - Split it into two elections for time for transparency

Dallas ISD urgently needs the $1.6 billion bond election to pass this November, but it will fail due to lack of trustee credibility.

Yes, new DISD schools and additions are needed, especially additional pre-k classrooms, but in the current form the bond election will not pass due to the recent history of secrecy and manipulation within DISD. Such adult issues have already led, within just the past two years, to the loss of 7 years of student achievement progress.  DISD has reverted to student achievement levels of 2007/08, a major loss!

The Future Facilities Task Force (FFTF) staff came to the 7-22-15 DISD board meeting, after a year of work, very poorly prepared. They did not have basic data such as:
  1. A report on the many community meetings they managed asking for public input.  How many residents attended? What were their questions?  Where there questions repeated at each meeting? What was the level of general public support for a bond election?  
  2. A report from the Attendance Zone Committee affirming bond needs presented by FFTF.  That committee has not even been meeting!  As Trustee Foreman pointed out, DISD has overcrowded schools and underutilized schools.  We must know that busing or other alternatives are not available.
  3.  A report on the 2008 Bond Program as to how it worked out.  What did DISD say they would do with the money? What was actually done?  Too many people in the community speak about previous bond program promises that have not been completed.  This data through February is on the 2008 Bond Election web site at http://www.dallasisd2008bond.org/
  4.  A report on the private and charter school capacity under construction or recently completed in DISD.  How can a bond election happen without some assessment of what the DISD competition is doing?
  5. A report on the current capacity and utilization of choice schools already open in DISD.  Only 3 are filled to capacity with the remaining being as little as 40% utilized.  Can FFTF document the need without the slanted surveys they used with the public, and then did not report on?
There is not enough time now to properly answer the questions related to these and many more areas of concern on the $1.6 bond program.  However student’s needs cannot be ignored. 

If the election were to be split into two bond elections, $400 million this November and the balance in November of 2017, the chance of it passing would improve significantly with no delay in the planned funding.

If the full $1.6 bond were to pass in November, the first $400 million in bonds was planned to go out in March 2016 with the next $600 million in bonds going out in March 2018, and the final $600 million in March 2020.  This planned process does not need to change in splitting the election for the $400 million this November and the remaining balance in November 2017.

It would be well worth the estimated $300,000 expense of an additional bond election in 2017 for both DISD and the general public to be more certain of the direction DISD is going with these $1.6 billion in public money.  The bond elections would pass with better information.  Public certainty is critical for this election to pass! 

By November 2017 DISD may see enough growth in both student achievement and enrollment that an even larger bond program may be needed, and passed, by that time.  Let’s plan for two elections if there is a real urgency. Transparency, public trust, and a certainty that this bond election will succeed, are the issues.

Bill Betzen

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dallas must unite against achievement gaps!


Here is an additional chart with almost identical data with one critical addition, data showing progress when the ALL DISD Student Achievement Gap with all of Texas is added to the chart.
The loss of seven years of achievement is very clear:


The pattern reflected in the above chart also related to the timing when there was a significant increase in supplantation in 2012 reflected in TEA financial records.  See http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2015/06/title-vi-complaint-against-disd.html

Below is the spreadsheet used in these graphs, especially the one above.  All the data comes from either the Texas Education Agency Snapshots of DISD and Texas data from 1995 to 2014, all that is available at this time, or from the 2015-16 Data Packet posted 7-25-15 on the DISD Data Portal.  Web site URL is http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/snapshot/ .  Email bbetzen@aol.com for a copy of the Excel spreadsheet below with these graphs.

We must pay attention to the past two years, 2014 and 2015, that have destroyed most of the progress documented as gained since 2005.


Dallas ISD Minority Achievement Gap 2005-2014
Two initial charts were completed on the achievement gap issues for Dallas ISD.  The first one tracked the percentage of students by ethnic/racial group who passed all statewide tests they took that year and compared DISD groups with that same group statewide.  Here is the result:

Dallas Texas Minority Achievement Gap from many perspectives, 2005-2014.


The above chart may give you an impression of progress, which may be accurate, but unless DISD and groups within DISD are catching up with the Texas groups, we cannot truly claim progress.  For that reason a study was done of the gaps for each ethnic/racial group with its statewide counter part. Was the gap growing or getting smaller?   Here is the data used for both charts.  The above chart used columns 2 to 7 below and the chart below used the final three columns.


Data used - DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap by Ethnic/Racial Group 2005-2014
While the first chart above indicates progress, it is only dependent on the cross year reliability of the statewide tests.  The second chart below is a more reliable measure of progress with a more troubling message.  The minority gap is growing.  Dallas ISD has work to do and changes to make.  The past two years have not been good ones except for the 4.6% of DISD students who are White students disproportionately attending the magnet schools in DISD.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Urgent Credibility Issue for Trustee Wednesday Evening Meeting

A meeting was announced this afternoon that the DISD Trustees were having a Board Meeting this Wednesday to discuss the potential for a bond election in November.  In spite of ample evidence gathering rapidly that Destination 2020 has been a dramatic failure the Board of Trustees appears ready to move rapidly forward with a $1.5 billion bond election based on it, complete with "schools of choice" that will help the re-segregation process in DISD, this time separating the rich from the poor even more.

Following an online discussion this was sent to the Board about 6 PM. 
==============================================
Dear President Cowan,
I became very involved in the discussion following the 3:20 PM article posted today announcing your Wednesday evening meeting.  That article is online at http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/07/dallas-isd-trustees-to-discuss-possible-bond-election.html/

I posted the following that cannot safely be ignored for your Wednesday meeting.
=====================
This planned bond election comes from the work of the Future Facilities Task Force.   As described at http://www.dallasisd.org/futurefacilities the core purposes of the Task Force are:
- Understand the concepts of Destination 2020 and how its initiatives impact the need for facility improvements.
- What are the Destination 2020 initiatives?
- How will these programs benefit students and improve academic improvement?
- How will implementation of these programs shape the need for facility improvements? 
- Review state of existing facilities and proposed new programs, and recommend facility improvements that will accommodate program implementation.

Major problems with Destination 2020 initiatives, including the massive failure of Imagine 2020, are being documented, including in a recent DMN Editorial, http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20150715-editorial-imagine-2020-schools-go-from-bad-to-worse.ece

There has been a 60% growth in the Student Achievement Gap between Dallas ISD and the State of Texas.  We now have the largest achievement gap in 8 years!  The Class of 2015 may be the smallest graduation class in 5 years! Such data demands a major re-assessment of the Destination 2020 concepts and initiatives before going forward with this election. 

It must be addressed Wednesday night.

Absent such a complete and credible re-assessment it will be very difficult for DISD to regain public credibility after the damage that has been done to student achievement over the past three years, as well as the increases in student attrition, and the record teacher turnover.  See the data and sources at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2015/07/priceless-critical-thinking-lesson-for.html

DISD already has a credibility problem due to the long term refusal to be transparent in a timely fashion.  That problem worsened significantly during the past 3 years!

Nobody wants DISD to succeed more than I do.  The plans for several K-8 schools are definitely positive!  But we need a solid foundation.
============ second posting ==========
I neglected to mention below the 76 page Title VI Complaint filed 4-21-15 that is being worked on by several U.S. Department of Education attorneys at this time.  I strongly recommend you read the documentation yourself.   There is a four page summary of the complaint at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2015/06/title-vi-complaint-against-disd.html

At the bottom of that page is a link to an excellent 5 minute coverage by Channel 8 of the issues involved and a link to the entire 76 page complaint.

In  summary, all the evidence indicates that schools getting larger amounts of poverty based funding, English as a Second Language based funding, and/or Special Needs funding were having their regular funding, which should generally be equal in each school, lessened significantly.  Such supplanting of need based funds is illegal.  Page 17 of the complaint gives examples with several schools of how millions of dollars were removed over the years, especially since 2012.

Until the multitude of questions raised by this complaint are addressed in an open and credible fashion by DISD Trustees and Administration, I do not see how the people of Dallas would trust them to properly spend additional bond money.

This bond election is needed, but making the operations inside DISD Administration more transparent is mandatory!
========================

Bill Betzen
Dallas ISD Achievement Data
www.dallasisd.us

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Priceless Critical Thinking Lesson for Dallas ISD Students in Three Charts

Four years ago two good changes were happening at the same time regarding Dallas ISD.  As an urgently needed taste of transparency was exposing how truly terrible DISD graduation rates were, that rate was breaking all records for progress! That is the power of transparency, but Dallas leaders were complaining about Dallas ISD schools due to the increased transparency.  At the same time they were ignoring other clear data showing a decade of solid progress!

They did not understand the requirements for such progress in a school district plagued with 89% poverty levels. They did not understand the DANGER of sudden massive changes in a system that was already showing consistent improvement.  Everyone agrees that we still had a long way to go, but the facts of the constant improvement were ignored.  Massive changes were allowed which destroyed the progress that was happening.  Now we can document that deterioration since 2012.

Probably the most critical measurement to show this process is the DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap. See this link to the details of how the DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap is calculated so as to be only minimally affected by annual changes in the tests given, as well as links to data sources given.

Dallas ISD Student Achievement Gap History with Texas 2006-2015

Dallas leaders had believed a Colorado quick change artist who spoke of making massive changes with almost no adequate research supporting his methods. They did not study the data back in Colorado as Trustee Carla Ranger pleaded with them to do before hiring him.  She was the only trustee to not vote to hire Mike Miles.

Now Dallas can look back and see that he did the same thing to DISD graduation numbers that he did to the graduation numbers in Harrison District 2 in Colorado Springs:

Dallas graduation class size, 2006 to 2015
The above charts reflect the results from this set of experiments that DISD Trustees allowed over the objections of teachers.  They document a massive deterioration of the progress in Dallas ISD. 

The major cause was teacher turnover as thousands of experienced teachers left DISD.  The losses started in 2011 with a major budget cut from Austin, then they accelerated in 2012 with Mr. Miles and a new set of rigid directions for teaching that were insulting to professional teachers.  Experienced teachers began to leave immediately.  Similar turnover had been well documented in Colorado Springs.  By the time the 2013-14 school year was started DISD had already lost thousands of such teachers!  The chart below reflects the 200% increase in zero experience new teachers in DISD classrooms within just 14 months of Mike Miles' arrival.

In 2010-11 only 4.3% of teachers were new to teaching.  By 2013-14, two years ago, over 13% of teachers were new to teaching! That increased the potential for a child to have an inexperienced teacher in their first year teaching by over 200%!  The details on how this data below, and much more turnover data was collected, are available online.

The Probability Increase since 2010-11 that a DISD child in 2013-14 would have a zero experience new teacher with no years teaching experience was over 200%!
We now have the data to document these costly mistakes by DISD leaders for which our students have paid the real cost. We must learn from this data, for the sake of our children!  We must show our children that we can admit that we made a mistake.

Look at the comments to the article in the Colorado Springs Gazette about Mike Miles return to Colorado Springs: http://gazette.com/controversial-education-leader-quits-texas-job-plans-to-return-to-colorado-springs/article/1554317   How did DISD ignore these sentiments over three years ago?

What more valuable lesson in critical thinking, and admitting mistakes in the process, can we give our students?  
We must admit the mistakes made in DISD since 2012, and do it BEFORE we undertake a $1.5 billion bond election described at this link!  A bond election is needed to rebuild many of DISD's old schools, but it must not evolve from the disaster of these past three years!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Teacher turnover set Dallas ISD student achievement progress back 8 years!

The DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap (DSAG) has grown 60% since 2013, and will continue to grow as teacher experience declines.
Dallas ISD Student Achievement Gap with Texas 2006-2015
Since 2012, experienced teachers have both been leaving Dallas ISD and not applying for jobs within DISD in numbers that have never before been seen.  The data for 2014-15 is not yet available but the patterns between 2010-11 and 2013-14 show a frightening loss of teaching experience in DISD:

  • The percentage of teachers in the 2 to 5 years' experience range went down over 31% between 2010-11 and 2013-14.
  • The percentage of teachers with more than 3 years' experience went down over 9% between 2010-11 and 2013-14.
  • The percentage of teachers with over 20 years' experience has gone down over 26% between 2010-11 and 2013-14.
  • The percentage of beginning teachers with no experience went up over 207% between 2010-11 and 2013-14.
  • One year and almost 11 months have passed since this 207% increase was recorded.  The 2015-16 school year may begin with over a 300% increase in beginning teachers and 50% of DISD teachers having 5 years or less experience.

We already know how many teachers new to DISD started the 2014-15 school year and 1/3 of all teachers had been with DISD for ONE YEAR OR LESS!  See details at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2014/10/tenured-teachers-leaving-dallas-isd-8.html

Due to the patterns from the past two years, the not-yet-released 2014-15 information may be one of the reasons Mr. Mike Miles resigned from DISD. He knew the student achievement (DSAG), teacher experience information, as well as STAAR test data that was about to be made public.   See the Dallas Morning News article of 7-8-15 on the failure of the Imagine 2020 Project.

If the progress since 2000 had continued past 2013, DSAG (DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap) would be down to 6 percentage points or less by now.  About 8,000 more DISD students would have passed all their statewide tests taken so as to achieve that 6 point DSAG.  Instead they failed and paid the highest price for the Mike Miles' reforms.

DSAG has exploded to 13 percentage points, the worst number since 2007!  

The history of progress since 2000, when DSAG was 20 percentage points, shows that Dallas ISD can eliminate any achievement gap with the rest of Texas!

Eliminate DSAG!

Dallas ISD Teachers 2010-2015 Turnover, Tenure, & DSAG
This chart will be updated as the 2014-15 data is made public.

The Class of 2013 ended the greatest decade of DSAG and graduation rate improvement in Dallas ISD History, and also appears to have started the most rapid achievement decline in DISD History. How far that DSAG decline will go is now in the hands of the Dallas ISD School Board.

*****************
There is a need for much more public discussion of these issues.

Due to this need, and the need for accuracy documenting the three years of disaster Dallas ISD is now suffering, and the potential Dallas has for a truly powerful turnaround, personal invitations are being issued to those most active in designing and authorizing the tragic changes since 2012 in DISD.  Trustees Eric Cowan, Miguel Solis, Nancy Bingham, Mike Morath, and Edwin Flores, as well as Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dr. Mike Hinojosa, Dr. Ann Smisko, Mr. Todd Williams and Mr. Ken Barth, will each be contacted and invited to answer two questions:

1) What are the errors and/or omissions in the Dallas ISD Student Achievement Gap with Texas?  Can you show that DISD was not significantly improving before 2012, or is not now in crisis due to new measures of falling student achievement since 2013?

2) Would you assist in helping to begin a series of panel discussions to address what is happening in DISD.  The panel would equally represent those supporting the changes of the past three years and the concerns documented in the above spreadsheet and the need for change.  Would you support such community discussion with open Q & A at the end, and questions firmly limited to one minute?   (Questions may be selected beforehand to be read by the person asking them, but the one minute limit is firm.)

Any answers to these questions will be posted here with the permission of the person answering.

*****************
To provide background for the public discussion of these issues here are a few articles that will help to show how Dallas ISD came to such a rapid deterioration since 2012:

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17110/dallas_home_rule_push_could_open_the_charter_floodgates is an article published last August that describes the Home Rule Charter District attempt on Dallas ISD.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/got-dough-how-billionaires-rule-our-schools is another article that shows the issue from a national perspective.

Many of these issues are being constantly discussed, along with an abundance of local things happening in Dallas ISD, on the Dallas Morning News blog dedicated to Dallas ISD: http://live.dallasnews.com/Event/Talk_DISD

The more the public knows about our schools, and the political factors affecting them, the safer our children will be in securing a solid education.  The critical thinking skills such an education must provide have NEVER been more critical for living in our world.

Bill Betzen
7-7-15


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Letter to Mayor Rawlings and Dallas City Council re cherry picking data

Dear Mayor Rawlings and all Dallas City Council,

This morning I found online the letter written by the Dallas City Council and 9 of you on 4-30-2015 to the DISD School Board in your efforts to keep Mike Miles in Dallas.  I had not seen it before.  See it at http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2015/04/how-does-this-help-the-kids-most-of-dallas-city-council-asks-disd-school-board-not-to-fire-mike-miles.html/

I do NOT want the cherry picking of data that was necessary in this letter by 9 of you to be necessary in my obituary someday to avoid bad stuff.  God does not go by obituaries!  The Dallas City Council should not cherry pick data when the lives and health of our children and our city is at stake!  Yes, Miles made some positive change, but not enough to counter the changes that chased away 6,000 teachers and too many of our best teachers!

Fortunately, with this letter, I can welcome the 6 new members of the Dallas City Council, and half of the new members are DISD teachers!  That is wonderful!  They will understand educational data better and how Dallas children were generally NOT doing better under Mike Miles!   Cherry picking is not what you want to be happening to find good news.

Look at the percentage of all DISD students who pass every statewide test they take.  Then compare that percentage with the percentage of all Texas students who pass every statewide test they take.  Subtracting the DISD percentage from the Texas percentage gives you the DISD/Texas Achievement Gap.  That gap was on the way to disappearing before Mike Miles arrived in Dallas! 

The gap had been 20 percentage points in 2000 but started to improve as DISD standards improved, especially under Dallas Achieves.  By 2013 the gap was down to 8 percentage points.  It could have been gone by 2020 if Mike Miles’ reforms had not increased teacher turnover over 100%!  The DISD/Texas Achievement Gap is now up to 13%!  This is not cherry picking data!

Dallas normally had about 10% of teachers with a year or less of teaching experience.  Now that percentage is near 30% due to massive turnover in teachers since 2012.

You can see this data and much more at http://www.dallasisd.us  .

Now that Mike Miles is gone more and more information will be made public about what was really happening these past three years. 

I am also involved in the Title VI Complaint against DISD filed with the U. S. Department of Education ( http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2015/06/title-vi-complaint-against-disd.html ).  Hopefully the complaint process will restore resources to the majority of the most poverty stricken schools in DISD that were losing resources illegally being used to fund other projects in DISD.
I am certain that none of us ever want to attend another painful DISD Board meeting such as the one on May 1, 2015.

Again, welcome to the 6 new members of the Dallas City Council.

Sincerely,


Bill Betzen