Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dallas ISD Enrollment Crisis

Dallas ISD is facing the most massive loss in enrollment since the White Flight days of over a decade ago!  

The current kindergarten enrollment posted this morning shows a drop of 1,136 from last year’s kindergarten enrollment. This is a drop of 8.5% and over 1,000 students smaller than any kindergarten class in 18 years!

Most of this kindergarten drop can be attributed to the 5.9% drop in births in Dallas County between 2009 when there were 42,276 births, and 2010 when there were only 39,769 births. Look at the birth numbers in Dallas County for the last 25 years below.  The birth numbers have not been this low in 18 years!

That still does not account for the remaining 2.6 percentage points, or 30% of the loss which is probably equivalent to the loss in most grades in DISD that are happening due to the DISD reputation deteriorating since 2012, teachers leaving, and the continuing growth of charter schools.

An even greater loss happened to the 12,105 students DISD had enrolled in the 5th grade last year.  Only 10,566 have returned to enroll in a DISD middle school in the 6th grade!  This is a 12.7% loss, one out of every 8 students!  It is the largest such loss on record this year!  Prior to the beginning of moving 6th grade into middle schools this loss was less than 5%!  The reputation of DISD middle schools is powerful and apparently making families move out of DISD!

Total DISD enrollment fell by 10-2-15 to only 158,593 which is 1,660 less than last year’s enrollment, and 3,162 students less than the 161,755 that were budgeted for the 2015/16 school year. 

DISD must face many issues, among them a dropping birth rate, the need to accelerate Pk-8 transitions, and the absolute necessity to restore and enhance the professional status of teachers.  Scripting classroom teaching would only be acceptable to less than life-long professional teachers.

According to DISD Data Portal, DISD now has only 214 more Pre-K students than 2 years ago.  It also is reported that over 800 Pre-K students not counted on Data Portal are being served in daycare centers by certified DISD teachers so as to avoid student transportation costs and time in the half day program.  That is a good investment.

Note, all of the above counts of current enrollment are not official except for the day recorded.  The official annual counts are made in one more month.  Given the pattern of the past month it can be anticipated that these numbers will go down even more.  If DISD staffed for the budgeted enrollment that may mean that as many as 150, or more, teachers may have to be let go once the final numbers are known.

Yesterday an article was published about the history of Dade Middle School over the past three years.  It helps explain why DISD enrollment is dropping.  See 

The "Dallas Miracle" by Mike Miles, Third Future Consultants

On the web site for Third Future Consultants you will find in their blog the following chart.  It is located online at

While the above chart is generally consistent with progress in DISD up to 2013, the measurements since 2013 are impossible to justify.

In 2013 DISD had the highest  DISD student achievement in recent history as measured by the smallest DISD/Texas student achievement gap in history.  The DISD/Texas achievement gap is the Dallas ISD statewide test passing rate subtracted from the Texas passing rate.  The 2013 achievement followed 7 years of progress.

In 2013 Dallas ISD had a student poverty rate of 89% while all of Texas had a student poverty rate of 60%.  In spite of this 29% "poverty gap," the percentage of DISD students passing all statewide tests taken fell within 8 percentage points of all of Texas, the smallest Texas/DISD student achievement gap in history!  This was wonderful progress to celebrate as this gap had been 14 percentage points in 2007, and 20 percentage points in 2000!

Sadly, due to dramatic changes in DISD since 2012, and resulting record setting teacher turnover that continues now in 2015, the DISD/Texas student achievement gap exploded in 2014 and again in 2015. By 2015 the DISD/Texas student achievement gap had expanded again to 13%, loosing over 7 years of progress in just 2 years!

Here is a decade of history for the DISD/Texas student achievement gap:

Dallas ISD must return to eliminating this achievement gap!

Multiple concerns have been raised about the accuracy of the ERG measurements including this series of articles in the Dallas Morning News:

Fact check: Was the DISD miracle real? on 6-28-15

Is this new evidence of a “Dallas miracle” at Dallas ISD?
on 9-1-15

Simple auditable data is what Dallas should focus on in tracking what is happening in our schools.

This chart contains the data used to create the above DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap chart:

More such data on DISD is collected at

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The 2015 DISD Bond Program & replacing Rosemont

The 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Program has encountered several problems that are slowly adding up. The first was the planned closing of all DISD elementary schools east of Hampton in West Dallas.  See those events recorded here.

The 2015 Bond plans to replace Rosemont are out of place when you study the Parsons Report that was completed in 2013 on all DISD schools, studying the condition of all DISD buildings and giving a numeric value to the need for replacement called the Facility Condition Index or the FCI.  The average FCI for all buildings in DISD was 22.1% indicating that half of all DISD schools and buildings are above that and in worse condition. Rosemont has an FCI of only 11.74%, or about half the FCI of the average DISD building.

The following two pages were taken from a 6 page spreadsheet on the Facility Condition Index for all of the buildings in DISD.  The first three pages were on the elementary school buildings.  Here are the first two of those pages listing the buildings from those in "poor" condition (pink), to those in "fair" condition (yellow), and finally to those in "good" condition (green), which is where Rosemont is listed.

The FCI score is a percentage of the buildings cost that is needed to put it in "as new" condition. These scores are all recorded in the Parsons Report that is located here online.

Rosemont has one of the lowest scores in DISD with 96 elementary schools with higher/worse scores than Rosemont.  The only other elementary schools being replaced in this bond election have FCI scores all over 37%!  Rosemont is only at 11.74%!  I have asked many Futures Facility Task Force members why Rosemont was chosen for destruction and replacement and have yet to receive an good answer.

Yes, improvements are needed to the Rosemont building to help it better meet the needs of students and teachers, but that could be done without spending $41 million to replace a building in good condition when improvements are so much more urgently needed in over a hundred other elementary, middle and high schools in DISD in worse shape!  Is the relative affluence and high voter turnout of a large segments of the Rosemont feeder pattern a factor, along with the fact that the DISD Board President's child attends Rosemont?

The painful bottom line is that Rosemont is a wonderful success with their dual language two-way Spanish-English program and their transition into being a Pk-8 school.  They received the highest awards available from TEA this year for their middle school, and were the only non-magnet middle school in DISD to receive those honors.  They are also very popular with parents and have 41% of their students from outside their attendance zone.  They have a lottery for those outside of their attendance zone.  DISD must spread that success!  

With the $41 million planned for spending on tearing down this 1922 Historic Building, which Preservation Dallas wants to save, and has on their 2015 Most Endangered List, linked here, DISD could transition three other Pk-5 schools in the area into being Pk-8 schools.   The success of Rosemont could spread!  The enrollment pressure on Rosemont could be lessened.  This is a much more reasonable alternative for the limited funds that Dallas ISD will have in this $1.6 billion 2015 Bond Election.

The passage of the bond election this November is endangered due to decisions like this that are being blamed on the Future Facilities Task Force, but I am beginning to think were decisions made by DISD staff instead.  The search for the logic behind it is continuing.

Why is DISD not seeking to serve thousands of more students with scarce bond funds rather than replacing one historic building in "good" condition but with overcrowding that could be quickly eliminated by upgrading several neighborhood schools to have similar Pk-8 programs?  This could all be done to several area schools with the same $41 million now planned for removing and replacing only the historic part of the Rosemont campus.   Other much less expensive modifications could be done to that building to achieve changes that are needed and at the same time save the historic reality of a 1922 building, and serve thousands of more students with the money saved in the process.

Dr. Carol Dweck and Student Motivation

This is a chat I was honored to have in August of 2006 with Dr. Carol Dweck.  Her message has been an encouragement to me ever since.  This is copied from and is part of a chat described as
Student Motivation: What Works, What Doesn't
August 30, 2006
Guests: Edward L. Deci, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester; Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University; and Susan Graham, middle school teacher at Gayle Middle School, Stafford County, Va.
Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):
    Welcome to today's online chat about what works and what doesn't work to motivate students to do better in school. We have a large number of very interesting questions waiting to be answered. So let's get the discussion started ... 

Question from Bill Betzen, Technology Teacher, Quintanilla Middle School, Dallas ISD:
    It often appears that the goals we invest the most time in for our students are relatively short term goals, such as just one year for the TAKS tests here in Texas. Is it not also necessary to invest time encouraging students to have long term goals, often focusing on those goals, to achieve the most productive growth mindset? Is the failure to invest more time encouraging long term goals for our students a major current failing of our educational system? (We have our middle school students focus on 10 year goals through a rotating time-capsule letter archive system []. I shared it with Dr. Dweck this summer. It is great to see Dr. Dweck on your program! I hope she has time to address the mindset concepts which have so much potential for helping us improve the educational process.)

Carol Dweck:
    This is so important. Many students do not understand how what they are doing in school now plays into their long-term goals. Yet if teachers convey that students are growing and building their brains every time they learn, students will think about their effort as an investment that will yield benefits well into the future. It is tremendously empowering to students to understand that they have the starring role in their own intellectual development and that they are in charge of who they will become--with of course the help and guidance of their teachers.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reverse Swiftboating, making Dallas ISD's achievement disasters since 2013 look good.

In February of 2012, recorded by the Dallas Observer, at, is an article titled "MAYOR MIKE RAWLINGS GIVES DALLAS ISD BOARD, CENTRAL STAFFERS A LESSON IN MARKETING 101." 

It helps explain why Mike Miles supporters pulled out the statistical fabrications from Education Research Group (ERG) and their analytics to help provide deniability for the failures that are obvious in DISD achievement data since 2013. See the preparation for such tactics in the description of this February meeting in 2012:
"Before the night was through, Blackburn would introduce "one of my special buddies," Mayor Mike Rawlings, who asked to remove his "mayor's hat" before delivering a lengthy monologue on ways to polish DISD's rotten apple. But before that, Blackburn turned over the floor to Merrie Spaeth -- the same woman who captained the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's branding campaign and who served Craig James's accomplice, for lack of a better word, in getting Mike Leach fired at Texas Tech. Much of her presentation consisted of a series of ads and viral video clips intended to remind the board that "negative words" are bad because they're "memorable" and "positive words" are good because they're .... positive? Said Spaeth, if you use "positive words," well, then, "People will hear what want them to hear." (All of which sounded very, very familiar.)"

Does the use of the complex unauditable ERG algorithms sound like the same type methods that guided the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's branding campaign? All they had to do was create a minimally credible "hook" for Mike Miles' defenders and alleged "reformers" to hang their hat on. But they will never meet in a public forum to discuss the issues!

The Dallas Morning News article "Fact check: Was the DISD miracle real?" was exceptionally mild in pointing to the manipulations by ERG, but did not swallow it all either. See

DISD massive achievement failings since 2013 have been hidden by a deniability campaign probably directed by the exact same people who ran the original Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign.

How does that help our students?

See the ERG web site at and study it closely.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dallas ISD - 18 years of improvement and two of decline

Today Mr. James Ragland had an opinion piece published in the Morning News following 25 years of DISD Superintendent History that is linked here.  I took that list of superintendents and imposed it on the 20 year history of the Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap.  That gap is a measurement of how far below the average for the State of Texas the achievement for Dallas ISD is.  Over the first 18 years of these 20 years we virtually cut the gap in half.  Then two years ago a record setting decline started.
Two more years in DISD like the last two years and the entire achievement gain since 1995 will be gone!

Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap Chart 1995-2015
The above chart came from the data below:

Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap Spreadsheet 1995-2015
While Mr. Ragland's article covered 25 years of history, it was only 20 years ago that the Texas Education Agency first published the Snapshot used to provide 95% of the above data.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Benefits of Pk-5 transition into Pk-8 in Dallas ISD

(My opinion piece on Pk-8 schools was published 9-24-15 at

Behavior problems go up over 400% in Dallas ISD from 5th grade into the 6th grade, and remain that bad until high school and 9th grade. This graph shows how bad the behavior problems get. They improve in high school immediately:
Benefits of K-8:
  1. The chance of a student having a close and positive productive relationship with a teacher increases.
  2. Behavior problems go down to less than 1/3 of what happens in normal middle schools.
  3. Student achievement goes up. Harvard research showed that the same as 6 months of more learning happens in a k-8 school that does not happen in a separate middle school.
  4.  Students are near their homes, walking to and from school, therefore more school involvement happens in a neighborhood k-8 school.
  5. Parents are more involved for longer with their child and their school.
  6. Upper grade students assume the role of mentors and leaders for the younger students on campus.
  7. Students never go through that dangerous change into middle school when there are months when nobody in the school knows their name.   It’s a dangerous time, made worse by normal puberty changes.  Many learning opportunities are lost in separate middle schools.
See the research that has collected.  It all points to the value of Pk-8 schools:

Due to the problems in virtually all Dallas ISD middle schools, the following petition is now being completed and signed by parents in West Dallas schools who want their schools to become k-8 schools:
Dallas ISD Parent Petition to change their k-5 school into a k-8 school
If you want to use this petition and insert the name of your k-5 school into it and begin the process of changing your child's school into a k-8 school, email for a digital copy.

See the history leading up to the above petition at

Monday, September 7, 2015

Class of 2015 SAT scores may be lowest in 20 years!

Texas has at least a 20 year history of terrible SAT scores that just got worse according to this week’s report in this week’s Morning News at  The Texas Class of 2015 SAT scores were a massive drop for Texas!

If you go to you can see a chart on the SAT scores by state on years from 1996 through 2013.  Texas is now in even worse shape compared to the rest of the nation than at any time on this listing. Texas was never better than 10th from the bottom.  That was the Class of 1996.  We went down from there!

The Class of 2001 was 5th from the bottom.
The Class of 2006 was 8th from the bottom.
The Texas Classes of from 2011 to 2014 were all 5th from the bottom except for the Class of 2013 which was 6th from the bottom.

Here is the chart for the Class of 2014 SAT scores by state:
SAT scores by state for the Class of 2014
Texas must admit that we do not have schools that come near being average in the US. They are below average. The class size and teacher preparation issues statewide are keeping Texas back!

Is Texas at the bottom now due to this weeks news about dropping SAT scores?  Does Texas now have the WORST SCHOOLS IN THE NATION?

Here is the same chart with additional data as to incarceration rate and the levels of school funding added:
How school funding affects schools across the US
The good news is that Texas tests a greater percentage of our students than 29 states.  Of those states, 24 test 18% or less of their students!  Obviously these states are all competitors for last place as they do not have their data being collected.

We in Texas should find little comfort in that. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

West Dallas & 2015 DISD Bond Election

Please help spread this message about this meeting Saturday:

==== Meeting below led to the meeting 9-12-15 above ======

The 9-9-10 meeting went well.  Now for the next meeting about more details on k-8 education and transition, hopefully with Rosemont parents who love their k-8 school.  We may have a meeting all in Spanish as well as translators at all meetings.

Full room at 9-9-15 Anita Martinez Rec. Center meeting on DeZavla & 2015 DISD Bond Election

================ Archived is below ============
Attend 9-9-15 meeting at 6 PM at Anita Martinez Recreation Center, next to DeZavala Elementary, to hear the confirmation that DeZavala will NOT BE CLOSED! But we must ask why this plan was ever made to begin with.

The photo below is of about 1/4th of the people who attended the 9-3-15 community meeting at Carr Elementary about the possible closing of both Carr and DeZavala.  (
Trustee Blackburn is back row on the left side.)
A similar gathering for the DeZavala Elementary community will happen next Wednesday, 9-9-15 at 6 PM at the Anita Martinez Recreation Center next to the DeZavala Campus.  The main purpose of this meeting as advertised is to present the Pk-8 alternatives.  Here is one presentation of what the benefits of a Pk-8 transition would be for West Dallas.

======= Just confirmed 9-8-15, NO West Dallas schools will be closed!  More details at 9-9-15 meeting ====== 

===================== Background ========================

Months ago, with minimal public input, if any, DISD Administration claimed the volunteers on the Future Facilities Task Force (FFTF) came forward with recommendations that would devastate the West Dallas Community east of Hampton Road.

There are 7 elementary schools that feed into Edison Middle School and then Pinkston High School. The FFTF is recommending that two of these 7, Carr and DeZavala, be closed and the children moved into a new K-8 school possibly to be built on the current Pinkston site.  There are many questions about this plan:

1) Why would DISD want to close two schools well located inside West Dallas neighborhoods that have served nearby homes in the community for generations and leave the entire community east of Hampton Road without a public school near their homes?

2) Why would DISD want to close two of the most well-utilized, almost filled to capacity schools in West Dallas?

3) Why would DISD want to close two of the schools in the best condition and least in need of repair according to the Parsons Report? Other schools in the Pinkston Feeder Pattern had much lower utilization and are in much worse shape.  See chart below.

4) Why would DISD want to close schools with priceless City Recreation Centers next door to each of them as a critical resource?  There is even a swimming pool at one.

5) How could DISD have made such plans with minimal if any community input?

What is the reasoning behind these plans? 

Below is data taken from the 8-5-15 plans published by the Future Facilities Task Force that illustrates the data in the above questions: 

Again, the next meeting to confirm that neither Carr nor DeZavala will be closed is this Wednesday, 9-9-15, at the Anita Martinez Recreation Center next to DeZavala Elementary starting at 6:00 PM.   Information about the benefits of Pk-8 schools will be shared so community can decide.

This copy of the meeting notice includes a map of this area of West Dallas:

Map of DeZavala and Carr attendance areas in West Dallas

==================== 9-7-15 update ========================
Conflicting message have been received with one community leader saying that Michael Koprowski, the member of Superintendent Hinojosa's Cabinet in charge of Transformation and Innovation, said that neither Carr nor DeZavla will be closed.  Many are now trying to get that allegation verified.

The two members of Superintendent Hinojosa's Cabinet were at the 9-3-15 meeting with Trustee Blackburn.  All of them were speaking as if the closing both schools was still being considered. They also all affirmed that community desires would be paid attention to in the decision making process.  It was very clear 9-3-15 that none of the 30+ adult community members present wanted Carr closed, only improved and probably transitioned into being a Pk-8 school. 

Due to these conflicts the following email was sent to Michael Koprowski on 9-5-15:

Sent: 9/5/2015 9:34:31 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: DeZavala and Carr Closing?
There appears to be great confusion about the plans for Carr and DeZavala Elementary Schools.   Are they being closed?
It was clear in the documents the Task Force was releasing from June through 8-5-15 that such closing was the plan.  What was the thinking behind that plan?

Then I saw the 8-21-15 update with that closing taken off.  Then at the 9-3-15 Carr Elementary meeting it was back on the table according to all DISD staff present, Wanda Paul and Dr. Bravo.  However, they seemed to accept the request of the majority present that Carr be transitioned into a Pk-8.
But we left that meeting thinking it was still on the table for DeZavala.  See for a blog containing notices being circulated in the media and copied for parents in the DeZavala neighborhood.  Hopefully we will have a very good turnout.  
What is the truth?
What was the justification made, and by whom, for the closing of these two valuable schools?
Bill Betzen

Dallas ISD Achievement Data

Dallas, Texas

Mr. Koprowski has responded that NO schools in West Dallas will be closed.  Hopefully he will also tell us why this was ever on the table for discussion.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Education Funding, Incarceration, Texas, & a DMN Editorial

Today the Dallas Morning News had a good editorial joining with 600 districts in Texas to say that school funding must improve in Texas.  The editorial was very logical and is online at .

An editorial can never document all the damage from underfunded schools, but the connection to incarceration should have been mentioned.  States spending the least on education have prison populations that are almost three times greater per capita than states with well funded schools.
Relation between state spending on education and incarceration rates
While people can argue the "correlation does not equal causation" argument, would you move to any state to take advantage of the lower school taxes?