Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Texas Charter Schools, ISD's, and Dallas ISD compared, using Snapshot data

The most consistent and powerful data base on school districts, including charter school districts, in Texas is the Snapshot data base maintained by the Texas Education Agency at http://tea.texas.gov/perfreport/snapshot/index.html.  It is a data base going back to 1995 that has tracked and reported on 98 data items ever since this date for ever ISD and charter district in Texas.  Here is the most recent report for Charter schools, ISD's and Dallas ISD for the 2013/14 school year.  It is a report with about half of the 98 data items reported on.  Go to the above link for 2014 for the full report.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Questions for DISD School Board Candidates in 2016

I have suggested answers but these are certainly NOT the only answers.

1)    What are the three the most positive accomplishments approved by the DISD Board during the past five years of DISD History?  Why were they the most positive?
First - Early Childhood Education expansion.  That was long overdue and will greatly improve student achievement.
Second - Moving forward with a bond program to improve DISD schools that was also long overdue.  Too many DISD schools are in terrible condition.  However, the specifics of how this bond program was done was embarrassing.  The relative secrecy and lack of documentation surrounding the process of the work done by the Future Facilities Task Force is NOT the way DISD should run such planning. There are not even minutes to any of the meetings or lists of who attended. Even with those issues, the moving toward the discussion of the bond needs was a positive. It simply should have been handled more publicly. Here is a video documenting in questioning by former trustee Elizabeth Jones of Future Facilities Task Force Co-Chair, Isaac Faz, about the documentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Aco49WP28&feature=em-share_video_user 
Three - rehiring Dr. Hinojosa. The current healing process would never have happened as quickly under anyone else. He was the right choice but needs to hear more from the public so that the right decisions can be made.  That business community segment that supported Mike Miles still has great power. Dr. Hinojosa cannot do what needs to be done alone.

2)    What are the three greatest mistakes made by the DISD Board during the past five years and why were they the worst?
First- hiring Mike Miles to be the superintendent with the least education experience of any superintendent in memory.
Second, - allowing Mike Miles to then operate in remarkable secrecy both from the Board and the public with almost no public accountability to create one of the most negative teaching environments in Texas leading to the departure of over 6,500 teachers.  This was the greatest teacher turnover in DISD History.
Third - refusing to have public presentations and accept public questions as a group regarding student achievement and the progress or lack thereof.

3)    The five years from 2006 to 2011 stand out in DISD History, why?
This was the greatest period of improvement in the graduation rate in DISD History which was accompanied by academic improvement and the lowering of the Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap to the lowest levels in history! In 2011, for the first time in over 3 decades, the size of the graduation class was over 50% the size of the 9th grade class three years earlier! This progress led to the largest DISD graduation class in 32 years with the Class of 2013. See chart below on the Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap: 

4)    Given this history, what should your goals be as Trustee?
Transparency (see below) and talking about the data revealed constantly so that actions can be designed to respond to the data revealed, and then be held accountable as these changes are implimented.  I would work to encourage parents at every elementary school in Dallas to study the history of Pk-8 schools both inside Dallas ISD and in the nationwide research.  I would encourage parents to decide if they want their child to attend such a Pk-8 school.  Then work to allow schools to transition to Pk-8 and close middle schools but always have some for those students who want to be in a separate middle school.
True centering on data! We cannot ignore that schools that have parents writing their child about their dreams for them, and then students writing about their own plans for the future, from 6th grade on, annually, have higher achievement and higher graduation rates.  The focus on the future works!  It also costs next to nothing compared to other academic solutions!

5)   How could this history have changed if the DISD Trustees, supporting transparency, had designed a monthly report with the 20+ most critical data items on it reporting on events inside DISD that have never been shared with the public in a timely fashion?  Such reports would include consistent measurements of student performance, student turnover and movement, and teacher movement and resignations. They would also include summaries of the most recent statewide testing. (Data in these areas given monthly would have warned Dallas of what was happening within DISD much more quickly during the damage done these past 3 years.)
See above.  This is only a small start for the many changes that would come with transparency.

6)    Would you support such transparency and a Board requirement that a monthly report be designed and mandated by the Board to encourage more public involvement in our schools?  

7)   When the DISD Board is considering a major change generating public debate, would you support public debate events with each side able to present a team for open public questions in front of an audience at a very well-advertised venue?