Sunday, December 30, 2018

Comprehensive DISD High School Enrollment Stability 2016/17 and 2017/18

This chart was done as a thought exercise exploring data reflected when you look at the percentage of 9th grade enrollment reflected in 12th grade enrollment the same year.  This chart was done in preparing to watch all high schools this year as the full every year letter writing will be attempted in each high school with the School Time Capsule Project.

Carter is a new high school with this being their first year to write letters.  South Oak Cliff, Sunset, and Pinkston have been writing letters for several years.


This chart seems to indicate very strong progress for Sunset and SOC in gaining student enrollment stability.  It also shows great progress at Carter but no letters were written there last year. Now to see what happens this year as 4 times as many students write letters, and also write to their parents and other relatives at all 4 schools.



Thursday, December 13, 2018

Questions to rewrite and ask again. Miguel Solis never answered them 5 years ago.

On November 6, 2013 a total of 10 questions were posted at 
http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2013/11/questions-for-miguel-solis-transparency.html and were presented to Miguel Solis again.  He had just been elected as a trustee, but during is election he would not answer these questions. 

He never responded to these critical questions. Many of the issues the questions addressed continue today in 2018/19 in different forms. Teacher turnover hit the highest levels in DISD history 5 years ago as the achievement gap between DISD and the rest of Texas grew two full percentage points to 11 full percentage points in 2013/14, the largest gap in 5 years at that time and the largest growth in the gap since the two point growth between 2001/02 and 2002/03. This tragic backtracking on achievement is visible in the first chart below:


The chart below reflects both student achievement in lessening the Dallas ISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap and the most recent largest explosion of the Achievement Gap that happened between 2012/13 and 2013/14:

These questions need to be re-written for 2018/19.  The issues are still critical to DISD success.
-------- Questions from the 11-3-2013 posting linked above ---------------------

To support transparency the following questions  were sent to Miguel Solis on 10-22-13 and never answered.  Miguel is now the official DISD Trustee for District 8.  Answers to these questions are much more important now.  Will Mr. Solis achieve the transparency he often spoke about?  

Here are updated questions.  They use new data available since the election including the painful documentation of 531 fewer seniors in the Class of 2014 compared with the Class of 2013: 

1)      Before he was hired in Dallas ISD there is no evidence that Mr. Miles was asked about the 26% drop in high school enrollment during the 6 years he was superintendent over Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs.  During a time when elementary enrollment rose over 20% in Harrison, indicating families were moving into the district, this loss of high school enrollment is an exceptionally dangerous sign.  Does this loss bother you?  What does it mean to you?  Can you secure, or did you ever receive an answer from Mr. Miles as to what happened in Harrison to cause this student loss?   Are you comfortable with his answers?   Would you allow such a loss to happen in DISD?


2)     Mr. Miles is known for a policy of not allowing students to move to the next grade unless they can do the work well.   That policy, strictly interpreted with no extra help for students, would eliminate low scoring students, encourage students to transfer out, and encourage higher testing students to remain. Hundreds of students left Harrison and transferred to District 11 to the north where ACT averages then went down.  Is graduation a priority for you, or are higher average ACT scores a priority?  In what solutions to this issue would you place your energy?


3)     The majority of the above mentioned loss was to seniors.  The Harrison District senior class lost 33% of their enrollment during the 6 years Mike Miles was superintendent.  Now in Dallas, during Mike Miles second year in DISD, the senior class has lost 531 students compared to last year’s enrollment, 6% loss. Does this loss bother you?  What accountability would you require from Mr. Miles if such senior enrollment loss continues?


4)     Mike Miles’ behavior necessitated a $100,000 investigation exposing many unethical actions by him against DISD policy, and against the board itself.  You have probably read that investigation.  What discipline would you have required as a board member?


5)     Mike Miles has alienated some of the most respected and accomplished leading education professionals in DISD.  It has resulted in many of them leaving their critical leadership positions as reflected in this article:http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/08/three-of-our-four-annointed-super-principals-have-been-drummed-out-of-disd.html/   Does this leave you comfortable about his leadership style?   What issues do you see?


6)     Mike Miles has had monumental difficulty in hiring and keeping staff who work closest to him in spite of the exceptionally high salaries he has given them:http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/05/when-will-disds-revolving-door-end.html/ .   What is your opinion of this turnover?  What issues does it present that you can identify?


7)     Mike Miles has paid some of the closest staff he had conflicts with to keep quiet. Are you comfortable with that?   What actions would you take, if any, to allow the board to freely speak with all such departing staff? http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2013/09/coggins-report-did-dallas-isd-superintendent-mike-miles-buy-former-communication-chiefs-silence.html/


8)    Miguel, you have said you support transparency.   Would you vote to require DISD to have the same level of transparency regarding teacher positions filled, and vacancies, as we now enjoy with student enrollment? (I am thinking of the enrollment listings athttps://mydata.dallasisd.org/SL/SD/ENROLLMENT/Enrollment.jsp?SLN=1000)    That is, would you require that within the next working day every new vacancy would be public and listed online by school as well as totaled for the entire district?   This would allow the public to know exactly how many classrooms in their local school are not filled on any day with a full-time (not substitute) certified teacher for those students and subjects, as required by law. How concerned are you about the record number of over 1,700 staff who have already left DISD these first 16 months of Mr. Miles tenure? http://keranews.org/post/more-disd-teachers-resigned-year-last-and-some-say-mike-miles-why.


9)     In 2013, when reported at the end of July, DISD did not officially notify the board that, for the first time in DISD history, the proportion of DISD students taking college entrance exams went down.  The percentage of DISD Minority students taking the ACT exam fell by over 23% while that percentage was virtually unchanged for the SAT exam.   Does it bother you that Mike Miles did not point out these reductions in the student population tested to the Board?  Does it bother you that instead, through reports given, he claimed very questionable and unjustifiable student progress with higher average grades reported for the ACT? 


10) In 2013 Mike Miles decreased the public transparency relative to the average ACT scores reported to the public.  Historically they had been reported to the first place after the decimal point.  In 2013, due probably to the 23% decrease in the minority percentage tested, the scores increase from 17.2 to 17.6.   Then for the first time in history these results were reported to the nearest whole number only.   The result was that it appeared the scores went from 17 to 18 instead of  the 4/10 of one point improvement that actually happened.  Does that reduction in transparency bother you?  What do you think explains this? What would you have done if you were on the Board when such reporting was attempted with no clarification of the changes?   Nothing?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The responses of Miguel Solis to these questions will be posted here if and when they are received. They were submitted to him again in 2019.  (Note: as of January 11, 2019 Miguel Solis has continued in his refusal to answer or even discuss these questions.)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Flip Texas State and Local Tax Rates for Prosperity



Challenges to this math and thinking are welcomed! It is certain Texas tax revenue would increase and spendable income would increase significantly for that segment of the population who would spend it almost immediately, the poor who need the essentials for life.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hidden U.S. and Dallas History - Slavery & Segregation

Those who grew up in the 1950's know how "equality" has been since 1954. Was it the same "equality" that led 70,000 White-non-Hispanic students to leave Dallas ISD from 1965 to 1977, the first 12 years of 45 years of Dallas ISD White Flight?


The 1964/65 school year was the highest White enrollment on record for DISD, 127,124. Then White numbers began to decline in 1966, but minority numbers grew faster than the White decline until 1970.
DISD Administration has rarely been more wrong in an enrollment prediction than in May and August 1970. In May 1970 DISD was predicting as many as 180,000 students for the next school year. By August that prediction was down to 177,000 students. The final full enrollment count for 1970/71 was only 164,726! They had terribly underestimated White Flight!
The 1969/70 DISD full enrollment of 173,799 students became the largest annual enrollment in DISD History! DISD thought they would be growing, but then suddenly started to shrink. The loss of White students was for the first time thousands greater than the increase in minority students that had sustained total DISD enrollment growth since 1965. A new stage of White flight began as DISD full enrollment began to shrink. That shrinkage continued until 46,337 students had been lost in just 14 years! The full DISD enrollment of 173,799 in 1970 was down to 127,462 by 1984.
The summer of 1970 was the highest loss of White students in all 44 years of White Flight, 1965-2009, and in all of DISD History! It was estimated at far over 10,000 students.
In 1971/72 DISD had the second highest loss as another 8,698 students left. White Flight continued with thousands leaving annually for three decades, until 2002 when the annual White loss fell to and remained in the hundreds for a total of 8 more years.
White Flight ended in 2009 when White enrollment hit 7,207. From 1964/65 to 2008/09 over 120,000 White students had left Dallas ISD to achieve the lowest DISD White enrollment in over 120 years. In 2010 White enrollment went up, for the first time in 45 years, to 7,232.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Kennedy Memorial Mystery in 1872 Dallas Map

Below is part of a well distributed 1872 map of Dallas that shows the Commerce St. Bridge. In the second full block east of where the Trinity was then located you find an image that seems to resemble the current Kennedy Memorial. It is on the north side of Commerce Street, just like the Kennedy Memorial location today.  This 1872 map is from http://www.glo.texas.gov/history/archives/map-store/index.cfm#item/89080

This larger view below, of the 1872 map above, shows the name Commerce St. to the East end of Commerce Street. If you look closely you can see that Market Street is actually the 2nd street, an additional block east from this strange building shell. 


The Kennedy Memorial is on Northwest corner of Market & Commerce as you can see in the image below. The Old Red Courthouse is on the location of the shell of a building from the 1872 map above. It was the unfinished new Dallas County Courthouse shell started in 1871 after the remains of the old courthouse were torn down.  After the walls were built with $40,000 Dallas County allocated, they ran out of money.  They did not get the money needed to finish this new courthouse building until the 1874 Legislature allocated the needed funds. See this Dallas Courthouse history at http://www.texasescapes.com/DallasTexas/Dallas-County-Courthouse-Dallas-Texas.htm#1872

Dallas has a fascinating history!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dallas ISD Young Women's STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School is the best! But some magnets have below average SEI scores!

Dallas ISD Young Women's STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School is the best! It holds two very distinct records.

First, for the past 3 years it had the highest School Effectiveness Indices(SEI) scores of all 33 DISD middle schools for two of these three years.  That third year it had the second highest SEI.

Second, for the past two years it received the least funding per student of all DISD middle schools.

DISD has much to be proud of.  This school leads the way due to the fact that less than 2% of the students are White-non-Hispanic, beyond that it reflects DISD demographics well, and due to the reality of an Economically Disadvantaged percentage of students that is 4 percentage points higher than the rest of DISD.

All of the above data is available on the Dallas ISD Data Portal at https://mydata.dallasisd.org/

Sadly there are middle school magnets that are far below average with their SEI scores and continue below for years in a row.  One is consistently majority White and below 50 SEI for the third year in a row.  It is recommended all parents study a schools history of SEI scores.  Look at the longitudinal scores: https://mydata.dallasisd.org/docs/SEI/SEI1718/201718_LONGITUDINAL_SEI_REPORT.pdf


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Salary Differences Increase 9-fold in 3 years between Teachers in low vs high income schools.

In 2015/16 the difference between teacher salaries in the about 91% of DISD schools with above 70% of students being from high poverty homes, and the about 9% of schools with less than 70% of students being from high poverty homes, was $423. At that time some explained this difference as being due to the higher tenured teachers in these lower poverty schools.
Since 2015 teacher raises have been calculated under the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI is explained and defined at https://tei.dallasisd.org/ ). By the 2017/18 school year this average teacher salary difference between the 20 "rich" schools and the 210+ "poor" schools had exploded over 9-fold to $3,953.
Is that what TEI is supposed to do?
The data used in this study was the average teacher salary for every DISD school over the most recent 3 school years: 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. This data verified a massive 9 fold greater increase over these three school years in the difference in salary between the teachers who teach in the 20 DISD schools with less than 70% of students from economically disabled homes, i.e. the highest percentage of higher income students in 2017/18, and the teachers in the 216 schools with over 70% of children suffering from being "economically disabled."
We are looking at average teacher salaries in 2017/18 in the 20 DISD schools with below 70% of students in poverty compared with the income increases for the teachers who teach in the other 216 higher poverty schools, schools with above 70% of children living in poverty.
In 2015/16 there were 19 schools with economically disabled student percentages below 70%. The difference between those 19 schools and the remaining 216 with higher levels of poverty was $423 in 2015/16. In 2017/18, under TEI, this difference had exploded over 9-fold to $3,953!
Here is a link to the spreadsheet file with three worksheets, one for each of the three school years with all 236 DISD schools listed in order by the percentage of students at each school classified as economically disabled. The order was from the lowest percentage to the highest. Then I used only the first 20 "richest" schools for the 2015/16 and 2017/18 years to calculate the figures I posted above. Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1y4vYXOKkDHkBmval2AP6Eal5KiugVNiYPn037u--Bfs/edit?usp=sharing.
It has the DISD mean teacher salaries by school for the past three years and was received in an open records request. Other observations are welcomed and encouraged!
Dallas is being told that the most talented teachers must be in the most needy and difficult schools. That is not happening under TEI based on this data! If DISD wants to defend their claims on TEI, why are they not being more transparent with raw data by school so as to prove their points?
Here is the 2017/18 distribution of mean salaries by school in Dallas in the first page of the 7 page spreadsheet ordered by poverty that was used. It shows the "rich" schools, the schools with the lowest percentages of economically disabled students that are the ones getting the "best" teachers as defined by TEI. (Or should we say that these 20 schools have the best students with the most advantages who help teachers look better?)
Page 1 of 7 pages of Dallas ISD 2017/18 Mean Teacher Salaries by School with Salary Average above/below 70% student Poverty
Young Women's STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School remains consistently the middle school with the highest School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) scores over the past 3 years in spite of 91.5% of students being economically disabled. Knowing this exceptionally high achievement, it was very good to see that the average teachers salary there has gone up $5,316 over the past three years. They have certainly earned it.
The sad news is that teachers at Young Women's STEAM Academy are still over $3,500 below the average teacher salary in the 9 "richest" Dallas ISD schools with below 50% of students with economic disabilities.
NONE of these 9 "richest" schools have an SEI average over the past 2 years that is better than the Young Women's STEAM Academy! Townview TAG was close, but most of these 9 "richest" schools are many points lower! Yet, the teachers in these 9 schools on average received $3,500 more in salary in 2017/18 than the teachers in this significantly higher SEI, 99% minority, 91.5% economically disabled school in Pleasant Grove.
(Note: the Townview Science and Engineering Magnet, not among the 9 "richest," justifiably has the highest salaries. They also have the highest SEI scores in all of DISD by over 4 points every year!!)
DISD still has a very long way to go to perfect the TEI system, if that is possible! The bottom line is that if DISD is comfortable in the claims they are making regarding racial and economic equity, why are they not being more consistently transparent? Here is transparency that has been requested but is not yet available from DISD, and many other people may have additional data that should be added to such transparency requests. See https://billbetzen.blogspot.com/2018/10/what-is-school-transparency.html Transparency that would help parents is discussed at https://billbetzen.blogspot.com/2018/10/finding-best-dallas-isd-schools.html A more detailed listing of data items is at https://billbetzen.blogspot.com/2018/04/dallas-isd-tax-increase-demands.html

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Transparency! Finding the best Dallas ISD school for your child!

Dallas ISD is an open enrollment district. That means any child may attend any of the 266 schools and academies that are not full.  But parents must be able to easily explore the best alternatives!!  Only 10% of DISD schools, about 24, are now full!  However, 36 DISD schools were among the 400 schools statewide who received every possible achievement distinction available!  149 of DISD schools are rated either A or B in performance by the State of Texas Education Agency.

Only a tiny minority of these DISD schools are full! 

With open enrollment any school with vacancies in your child's grade is available to your child! 

These improvements will continue! The last image below shows how Dallas ISD is already improving faster than any other urban district in Texas! 


To find the school ratings for the 266 DISD schools and academies there is already a current database called the "School Information File" on the Dallas ISD Data Portal.  It provides a shortcut to the most information available in one place about each of the 266 schools and academies in Dallas ISD, including their most recent state ratings and the number of distinctions they have.  This is one of the most useful places to begin a search for the best school.

To find the "School Information File" either google “Dallas ISD Data Portal” or go to https://mydata.dallasisd.org/ .  At the top of that page, to the right of “Statistics & Reports” (where most people seeking DISD data normally go) you will find “RESOURCES.”  Select “RESOURCES” and go to the last of the four choices: “School Information File.”  Select it and the rest is easy. 

On the last page all the information choices should remain checked if you want all the data to begin with. On the top of that page in the center you will see [Clear all boxes I Export to Excel ] as alternatives. You want to click on "Export to Excel."  This will create for you in a few seconds an Excel Spreadsheet with all 266 schools and academies in DISD and 40 pieces of information about each of them, including location, enrollment profiles, state ratings, and the number of distinctions they have received with their most recent rating.

(The first time I did it I was using Chrome as my browser and it generated a virus message at this point not allowing the Excel Spreadsheet to be downloaded.  I switched to the Microsoft Edge browser and it worked fine.)


This School Information File is not known by many people in Dallas, or even inside Dallas ISD.  It is new and just beginning to be used. Most of DISD Administration, and probably 99 percent of staff, do not know this file had been online for over a year! 

The School Information File is only a start! It potentially will fill all the needs of the Excel School Equity Spreadsheet that I have been blogging about for several months!  We just need to add more variables, such as the detailed financial data on each school, including the 32 categories of per-student funding invested in each school as recorded in the PEIMS Financial Standard Reports for each Texas district and school campus.  On this site we also should have multiple years of past data in the same format for each school year to provide for study and perspective.  The Excel format is perfect!


Parents looking for a school for their child can search by any of the multiple variables given on each school.  

First, download the entire spreadsheet and save it.
  Then save a “school search” copy so you keep the original to return to.  In the school search copy you narrow your search by deleting the rows with the schools outside the zip code areas you want to consider. Then also delete the columns with the types of information from the variables that you are not interested in.  

That will narrow the number of possible schools and academies to those you may be most interested in due to location: near your home, work, or grandma, or anywhere if you are looking for the highest rated schools possible in DISD.  You can also delete variables you are not concerned with to help secure a more manageable spreadsheet.

The "School Information File" online as of 10-15-18 is only a start.  (It has been updated with current 2017/18 TEA rating data by DISD staff since I first saw it.)  It has only one year's data and now only 40 variables. (It had 48 variables when I first downloaded the 2017/18 version in August 2018.) The information items will need to increase significantly to over 200 to include school student capacity, facility condition index and hundreds of other variables related to each school.

School achievement and enrollment will change from year to year. The number of year's data represented in the "School Information File" needs to grow so that past years are available, a new spreadsheet for each school year. That will allow the school's history to be known.

Parents need to know each schools student capacity number so that they can easily tell if it is full using the enrollment figures online that are updated dailyVacancy numbers must become part of each schools web page if DISD is to be serious about district-wide open enrollment flexibility.

As you work on the file and notice information you believe must be included, please post below or send me a message about the additional data about each school that you would want include.  We know many more variables need to be added, as well as annual historical data to see a school's history to document patterns. This must be a School Information File that becomes a central resource for Dallas families.  We will achieve that goal only with feedback and constant improvement.


If you like the idea of a significantly higher level transparency within Dallas ISD, with over 200 additional variables on each school added to the School Information File, tell the DISD Board.  There are monthly board meetings on the 4th Thursday of the month at 5151 Samuel Blvd, the old Dallas County Schools location.  Please help send the message that DISD needs much more transparency!  Here is the DISD Board meeting schedule. 

Anyone can download an Excel Spreadsheet now on 266 schools and academies with 40 pieces of information.  If DISD shows a resolve to expand that information available to all years from 2017/18 back ten years, and if DISD expands the data each year on each school to five times the size of the 40 pieces of information now available, if that happens, trust for DISD will expand very positively.  It will help confidence in DISD to grow as families are better able to know Dallas ISD.

Yes, most of these 200+ variables most people will not be interested in at any given time.  They joy is that they can erase those columns in seconds and go on with their work.  It is certainly better to be able to erase data you are not interested in at this time on your working copy of the spreadsheet than to not have the data at all.


DISD is certainly heading in the right direction! Below is the letter grade projection for Dallas ISD schools given at the 8-9-18 Board Briefing.  This chart also shows the wonderful progress going from 43 to 4 failing schools within 4 years. The letter grade distribution among DISD schools was projected week by DISD staff.  

There are 12 schools in Texas that received perfect scores from the TEA.  Half of those 12 are Dallas ISD schools.  DISD only has 3% of the schools in the state, but a disproportionately high percentage of the best ones!

DISD is making wonderfully positive academic progress.  The "School Information File" now online already reflects this progress.  As 2017/18 and the years before 2016/17 are added, more of the history of improvement will be reflected, constantly more strongly, as DISD gathers resources and is able to post more data onto the "School Information File."

We have the good fortune in Dallas to be living in the most-improved-urban-district-in-Texas since 2012. Look at the chart below to see how DISD beats the other urban districts for improvement and achieved this title.  
Achievement Growth Across Major Texas Urban Districts from 2012 to 2018
Nothing will improve the quality of life in Dallas more than more transparency and improvement constantly happening at Dallas ISD! Dallas ISD will lead Dallas to be a truly great city!


(Note: Today, 11-2-18, I found a coding error in the DISD "School Information File" database.  It appears they have consistently coded the large non-magnet school on a campus as the magnet school and then coded the magnet school as a non-magnet/choice school.  I have send an email to advise them and ask that it be corrected. - Bill Betzen)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Mark Twain Elementary would thrive as a dual-language two-way Pk-8


Click on the above chart to see the rest of the damage done in middle school! Remember, most of our dropouts never made it into the 10th grade until about 2011 when graduation rate progress pushed that 50% marker into 10th grade for DISD.



Tonight's meeting at Mark Twain was an excellent meeting.  Stephanie Elizalde presented a solid plan for changing Mark Twain into a Pk-5 TAG magnet. She spoke of 42% of the students leaving DISD for charters as being TAG qualified due to their documented abilities!

During the meeting STEM and STEAM alternatives were encouraged by the audience as well as encouraging a PK-8 alternative.  Carpenter Elementary nearby was presented as a future Pk-5 dual-language two-way magnet.  I recommend it become a Pk-8 due to the massive land that the school sits on with more than adequate space available for another building to accommodate the science and other facilities needed for a Pk-8 dual-language two-way school.

We will see what happens.
========== posting made before the meeting ===================
For the past 8 years I have been researching and studying everything I could locate on Pk-8 school performance compared to the fragmented configurations too common in US school districts.  It is no accident that the Finnish schools, which are considered some of the best in the World, do not have a fragmented configuration forcing their students into multiple, unnecessary school changes in a child's passage through to the University. They have one school through the 9th grade, one high school level, and then college.

If MarkTwain were to become Pk-8 it would lessen the need for travel away from the neighborhood for the middle school years.  It would also leave older siblings in a local school three years longer to help escort younger siblings to school and focus on their own academic goals.

Fortunately the Mark Twain campus is blessed by having ample space available.  Only a building for science lab and other such advanced study would be needed.

==== Research collected since 2012 regarding value of Pk-8 school configurations ======
Debates over grade configurations surrounding middle school have gone on for as long as middle schools have existed.  That issue is moving beyond the debate stage.

July 2011 Harvard University study documented the damage being done in middle schools. Parents need to read it. This detailed and extensive research concluded (page 23): "Taken as a whole, these results suggest that structural school transitions lower student achievement but that middle schools in particular have adverse consequences for American students."  If parents agree, they must demand change, especially here in Dallas due to the publicly acknowledged issues with our DISD middle schools.

The Harvard study showed that in virtually all subjects the scores on standardized test were lower in middle schools than in K-8 elementary schools. Parents and teachers familiar with both settings will rarely be surprised by these findings.

This past November a powerful editorial was published by CNN giving a simple message: "By all accounts, middle schools are a weak link in the chain of public education."

The K-8 response to this "weak link" is gaining momentum. The number of  K-8 schools has almost doubled in the US since 2000 while over 1,000 middle schools have disappeared or been re-purposed as K-8. Google news for K-8 and middle school.  You will find reports of school districts closing middle schools and changing them to K-8 elementary schools with very few exceptions. The reason is as simple as the statement a decade ago by William Moloney, then the Education Commissioner of Colorado: "K-8s are the place where everybody knows your name."

What better place to endure the uncertainties of the changes of puberty?

This past April the National Middle School Association changed it's name to the Association for Middle Level Education. They saw middle schools being closed in the US, and realized such separate institutions do not exist in the highest achieving school systems in the world, such as Finland.  In such countries the elimination of the middle school transfer trauma appears to help in far exceeding US academic achievement while at the same time investing significantly fewer classroom hours. The name change reflected a more authentic focus on educating students ages 10 to 15. Will Texas public schools see what is happening?

In Cincinnati Ohio the change to K-8 schools happened in the 1990's. It was a positive change. Now Cincinnati wants more improvement and is exploring a K-6, 7-12 configuration.  They are finding better initial results. The jury is still out and questions remain. See this 12-26-11 news report on explorations all school districts should be making.

We must continue to study the growing research. Google "middle school," "K-8," "7-12," "research," and related search combinations, to find such research.  Below is a chronological listing of relevant articles, a list that will continue to grow:

  1. K-8 Schools: An Idea for the New Millenium?, Published 1999, updated 2010 Education World
  2. Revival of the K-8 School: Criticism of middle schools fuels renewed interest in a school configuration of yesteryear , March 2002, Priscilly Pardini, in The School Administrator
  3. Mayhem in the Middle: Why We Should Shift to K–8, April 2006, Cheri Pierson Yecke, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)
  4. K-8 or middle school? Which is better?,  2008, The Arizona Republic
  5. K-8 beats middle school in study,  2010, JoanneJacobs blog
  6. Study Finds Students in K-8 Schools Do Better than Students in Stand-Alone Middle Schools,  2010, EducationNext
  7. How and why middle schools harm student achievement, Fall 2010, Rockoff & Lockwood, Columbia University
  8. The Middle School Mess, Winter 2011, EducationNex
  9. Why Pre-K - 8?, list of reasons collected by an Atlanta Georgia school.
  10. No middle ground: Middle school may harm achievement, 11/29/11 Silicon Valley Education Foundation: Thoughts on Public Education
  11. Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes through Middle and High School, July 15, 2011, Schwerdt & West, Harvard University 
  12. How Grade Level Configurations Affect Student Achievement,  July 2011, Elizabeth Dhuey, University of Toronto
  13. Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, September 2011, Jacob & Rockoff, The Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst.
  14. Finnishing School: The world's top school system gives pointers , 1/20/12, Kathryn Baron, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Thoughts on Public Education (Note: Finland has no middle schools separate from their 1-9 basic schools.)
  15. Finnish far ahead of U.S. schools. The education system in Finland — one of the world’s best — focuses on the students first.  2-19-12, The Register Guard, Eugene, Oregon.
  16. In Finland, Students Win When Teachers Compete. 2-18-12, Heartlander, The Heartland Institute, Chicago, Illinois. 
  17.  The Middle School Plunge. Spring 2012, EducationNex. An update on the research with some meaningful comments.
  18. The Middle-School Cliff. 3-12-12, Society for Quality Education, a discussion of the issue in Ontario.
  19. On 2-16-13 there was a powerful conference on the crisis of black male students dropping out on the pathway to prison.  It was called "The Urgency of Now" and was at Friendship West Baptist Church in South Dallas. The following chart was part of the presentation by Kevin Monday related to his decade+ of work.  It clearly shows the damage of middle school with one plus.  It shows what happened in Dallas ISD from 2005/06 to 2006/07 when DISD moved about 60% of 6th graders from elementary schools into middle schools. Notice how disciplinary actions increase over 130%!: 

The rest of the story on the chart above is the terrible 440% increase in discipline problems from 5th graders to 6th graders the first semester of 2012/13 school year in Dallas.  See the following chart.  It is accurate but still being ignored by DISD!
It is from http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2013/03/middle-school-chaos.html

Below is a erratic listing of articles, gathered as time is available, about school districts now in the process of moving to a K-8 configured system:
  1. Lakewood, New Jersey, 2-17-12 K-8 is proposed but apparently with inadequate information based on comments on page.
  2. Corning, California, 2-17-12
  3. Toledo, Ohio, 3-2-12, a successful transition to K-8 for Toledo Public Schools.
  4. Lakewood, New Jersey, 3-2-12, example of K-8 transition that was rejected in a community with a 50-year middle school tradition.  The battle does not need to end.  A community awareness of the research is needed.
  5. Corning, California, 3-2-12,  Article includes quotes from administrator familiar with k-8, and the research, as this district makes the transition. 
  6. Elizabeth, New Jersey, 3-28-12,  "all six middle schools replaced by reconfigured K-8 elementary schools"
  7. Mariposa Middle School to close, District cites potential budget deficit; K-6 schools will be K-8, 4-3-12, Merced, CA, middle school closing so as to create k-8 school
  8. York schools' middle school idea raises question: What grades should buildings serve?, 4-7-12,  York, PA, considering move to k-8 schools and closing all middle schools. 
  9. York District's planned move to a K-8 model instead of having separate elementary and middle schools will reduce the need for staff.  In Dallas this is NOT the reason to move to a K-8 model.  It is almost certain that as DISD moves to a more K-8 centered model that enrollment will go up as parents return their children to DISD and achievement goes up.  We will need more teachers!
  10. Comparing Achievement between K-8 & Middle Schools By Janie Andrich, of 21st Century Education, writes a good summary of the research and benefits of K-8 schools, July 10, 2012.
  11. New K-8 Schools opening in Colorado http://www.timescall.com/news/longmont-schools/ci_22453416/k-8-schools-remodeling-track
  12. Due to the research on increased achievement, more K-8 schools are opening in Florida: http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/05/30/orange-county-opting-for-more-k-8-schools/
  13. Research in NYC showing that the worst and least productive configuration for schools is K-5/6-8, the exact configuration now dominating in Dallas ISD: http://gothamschools.org/2011/08/22/study-in-nyc-traditional-k-5-6-8-grade-arrangements-do-worst/ 
  14. Do Middle Schools Make Sense? http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/2012/09/do-middle-schools-make-sense/    Yes!
If anyone knows of any research that indicates K-8 schools have a negative affect on discipline or student achievement compared to K-5/6-8 or K-6/7-8 configuration, please email the links to me at bbetzen@aol.com and describe what you found.  Thank you.

You can NOT always lie with numbers!

A phrase we hear too often is that "You can always lie with numbers!"

Such a statement should never be said around children.  Lying with numbers is only possible when you are talking to a person, or an audience of people, who either do not understand statistics, do not know how to work with statistics, or who are not willing to invest the time to research and create statistical counter-arguments. 

When "you can always lie with numbers" arguments enter the educational field, and may give our students a negative attitude toward math, we are in danger!  Instead, we must demonstrate how statistical arguments are a powerful educational opportunity that we should be using for our students.  Multiple lessons can be given far beyond the mechanical abilities of math.  The limitations of some mathematical arguments can be demonstrated, as well as the limitations exposed with the use of probabilities.

If a child is ever present when someone uses the "You can always lie with numbers" argument, we must use the opportunity for education.

What is School Transparency?


School transparency is a term all politicians, and especially school board trustees, claim to fully support!  Sadly that support too quickly becomes excuses as you ask for specific information.

For parents and most people the Dallas ISD Data Portal, online at https://mydata.dallasisd.org/, is a powerful step in the direction of transparency.

In the DISD Data Portal, under "Statistics and Reports," you will find "Enrollment."  It includes critical demographics by school and is updated every school day. 

In several locations in that same section, academic achievement is recorded by both test scores and the powerful School Effectiveness Indices (SEI). This DISD measurement has tracked each school's comparative excellence for over 2 decades with just one number, the SEI.  Annual Data Packets, each one over 100 pages long, are probably the largest collection of data for both the entire district and for each school.  They are archived for over a decade and available. By necessity the most recent copies of these data packets are almost a year old.

But for all involved, including parents, child advocates, and community planners, this fragmented DISD transparency is limiting.  It does not allow for the easy exploration of schools in comparison with other schools by the hundreds of variables recorded on each school. 

While the information is public, is is not in a form to allow easy comparisons. Such comparisons require the investment of hundreds of hours inserting data into spreadsheets so as to compare schools instantly on achievement, demographics, funding, or teaching staff tenure, pay, and achievements.

A step toward solving this major transparency failure was born in DISD over a year ago. It has remained unknown by most staff, and certainly the public, until this past year.  It is the "School Information File" spreadsheet that can be created within a minute by anyone. 

You find the "School Information File" under "Resources" on the Dallas ISD Data Portal.  It allows you to immediately create a spreadsheet with over 40 variables on all 266 schools and academies in Dallas ISD.  Those variables now include school identification information, demographics, location, and the most recent TEA rating information.

More columns with more variables must be added to this "School Information File" spreadsheet.  Annual copies of it should be archived as a historic record.  This large spreadsheet would provide the public with a goldmine of transparency.  They could follow their neighborhood schools as compared with all the rest of DISD!  They could easily follow both funding, progress, or decline, year to year.

If the same day that statewide test results are available by school, they were also added to the School Information File data base, the public would have a powerful and timely transparency to use in comparing student achievement in their local schools.

If the same day that the Dallas ISD School Board approves an annual budget, the funding planned for each school from that budget was inserted into the School Information Files, we would know immediately where funding is planned by school.

If the same day that the 31 PEIMS Financial Reports variables on the sources of funding for each school were finalized, they were also posted into the School Information Files, Racial Equity could be immediately validated or challenged.  Remember, demographic profiles for each school are already in the spreadsheet along with poverty levels.

Such data transparency would allow Dallas ISD to become one of the first fully data-driven district, in all areas, in the nation!  The public should demand it!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Dallas ISD $1.2 BILLION Deficit by 2022/23 if TRE tax increase fails

Dallas ISD has achieved a massive record of improvement over the past decade. The Tax Ratification Election (TRE) must pass or within 5 years DISD is facing over a $1.2 BILLION deficit.  This is the tragic conclusion based on the data found in 3 of the 26 slides from the "Innovating & Accelerating Progress" presentation at www.Dallasisd.org/tre.

The first, slide 9, shows how the continuing drop in State Revenue alone would lead to over a $700 million DISD deficit by 2022/23 as DISD will not have the State Funding that is projected and planned for in slide 17. 
Slide #9 from 26-slide "Innovating & Accelerating Progress" presentation at www.Dallasisd.org/tre.

The second slide, #10, shows the annual $126 million increase in spendable income that is projected, after recapture, if the TRE passes.

Slide #10 from 26-slide "Innovating & Accelerating Progress" presentation at www.Dallasisd.org/tre.

The third slide, slide 17 below, shows how the loss of $126 million for each of 5 years will lead to an additional $500+ million deficit by 2022/23. These are only very crude estimates pointing to a potential Dallas disaster if the TRE fails.

The only alternative for Dallas ISD will be massive budget cuts that will certainly include the laying off of hundreds of teachers and the closing of many schools.

Again, this all presumes the DISD data and projections in these three slides are correct.

Slide #17 from 26-slide "Innovating & Accelerating Progress" presentation at www.Dallasisd.org/tre.

Unless there are errors in the data on these slides from DISD, this will be over a $1.2 BILLION dollar Dallas ISD disaster by 2022/23 if the TRE fails and massive staff and other budget cuts are not made. (I have studied the data provided by DISD for many hours.  I find no inconsistencies in the data.  I think it is correct, but I am not a school budget specialist. BB)

If you see errors in the math please email bbetzen@aol.com .

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rosemont Elementary School Facilities Condition Index (FCI) from 2013

In 2013 a 50-page Facility Conditions Index assessment was made of the old Rosemont Elementary School built in 1922.  Below is the summary page.  These pages are from the the 30-50 page reports made on every DISD school campus made as part of the Parsons Report. Email me if you want the full multi-page Rosemont FCI report from 2013, or if you want the 2013 report on your school: bbetzen@aol.com.  Put "FCI report" and the name of your school in the subject line.

With an FCI of 14.52% in 2013 this 1922 Rosemont building was in the grouping of DISD school buildings in the best shape in all of DISD in 2013.  Somehow within 5 years, by 2018, this building FCI had deteriorated to 98%, one of the worst building FCI's in all of DISD.   How?
(Under "Strategic Plan" in the last chart below you will find Rosemont as #4.)

On October 24, 2018 at 6 p.m. there is a meeting at Rosemont by Trustee Pinkerton to discuss the proposed demolition of the old Rosemont and the conversion of it into a full Prek-8 with a new building for the middle school section on the Semos Campus.  Bring your opinions.

Summary page of 2013 FCI assessment for 1922 Rosemont Entire Campus
Here is the summary for plans for Rosemont and all the schools in this area.

No Justification in Published Research for mega-elementary schools in Dallas ISD Long Range Facilities Plan presented 9-22-18

First, here is a letter to the editor printed on Saturday 10-13-18, to summarize the issues DISD is facing with the Long Range Facilities Plan. (Click here to see it.)  The letter is also online at https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2018/10/12/windfall-elimination-provision-comparing-trump-hitler-tough-choices-immigrants-aid-school-closings-nathan-jones

============ Letter to the Editor as printed 10-13-18 ==============
Rise up on closing schools

Wednesday night an emotional, standing-room-only community meeting at Reagan Elementary in the Bishop Arts District reacted against DISD plans to destroy Reagan, Hogg and Peeler elementary schools to create one mega-elementary. Similar meetings will be repeated across the school district if schools continue to successfully inform their families about plans to destroy schools. Only meetings hidden from the community will be quieter.

Public debates about research on mega-elementary schools as opposed to smaller community schools must come first. The research is far from conclusive. In no way does it justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars to not only destroy schools but also to destroy the history and communities that go with those schools. The communities will rise up!

For the $900+ million DISD plans to spend, the community schools could be updated to reflect community pride in their history. They could become open-enrollment magnets like Rosemont Pre-K-8, integrating the poor with the middle class and the wealthy. We all know that through education, within one generation, the most poverty-stricken family can become gentry.

Families can gentrify in place!
Bill R. Betzen, Dallas

===================================

The central issue to be faced is a presentation of national published research documenting a consistent benefit to the elimination of smaller 300-400 student elementary schools and replacing them with mega-elementary schools as large as 1,200 schools described by Dr. Hinojosa.
This is an email sent to the Dallas ISD Board following up on plans to destroy as many as 47 smaller elementary neighborhood schools so as to move students into larger mega-elementary schools, often over twice the size:

==============================

Dear President Flores, Dr. Honojosa, and Dallas ISD Trustees,

The move from smaller community schools to larger mega-elementary schools drives the current Long-range Facilities Master Plan centered mostly on destroying 47 smaller schools.

Since DISD staff has provided no research supporting mega-elementary schools as superior for student achievement the district credibility is being damaged!

After several hours searching for research to justify the move from small community schools to larger mega-elementary's, no such justification could be found to merit what DISD is risking and investing in these poorly justified Long-range Facilities Master Plans.

The overwhelming research conclusion discovered repeatedly is that schools near the 350 student size are superior to help in parental involvement, student achievement, and teacher job satisfaction. Attached is the best summary of research found that describes why smaller elementary schools are better for students, parents, and teachers. These conclusions are reinforced by the large majority of studies published since this 2006 summary.

The conclusion that smaller schools are better, especially for high-poverty and minority students, is repeated over and over!

Please read the attached two-page summary.
DISD staff must provide significantly overwhelming research contradicting these attached research results so as to justify:
spending hundreds of millions of dollars,
displacing over 40,000 DISD students,
risking student achievement with mega-elementary schools, and
risking the loss of thousands of students by DISD.
The meetings now happening are overwhelmingly painful and negative for the DISD image among our families and students. The one at Reagan Elementary this week was planned for the cafeteria but due to the crowds was moved to the auditorium where all the seats were quickly taken and all the spaces along the walls were taken, often two or more people deep. The community did not like the plans!
The DISD image is suffering from these poorly documented and researched plans now being presented in school meetings.
Can we have one or more larger DISD public meeting to discuss the research on small schools vs mega-elementary schools first? We must present a more solid plan. We must avoid damaging the DISD image more among DISD parents! We cannot risk giving our parents reasons to enroll their children in charter schools. That is what is happening with the current plan being presented at school meetings.
Corrections and/or additions to the materiel shared about the Long-range Facilities Master Plan must be made first, especially before there are more meetings!
Better yet, can this plan be pulled back for revisions, and nothing else made public, until after the November 6th elections. My greatest fear is that continuing to make the Long-range Facilities Master Plans public now, and generating the massively negative publicity that the Reagan meeting could have generated if the media had been better represented, could lead to our losing the November 6th TRE and the funds that are so urgently needed.
You are playing with fire! We all want the TRE to pass!
Bill Betzen, volunteer
The School Time Capsule Project,
An open source project, free to use if sharing improvements
www.StudentMotivation.org
===============================
Below are the two pages of the attachment that is a summary of school size research as of 2006. I would welcome research that goes against these conclusions.




Anther Literature Review, this one from 2007 with the same results. Notice last finding at bottom of page stating "Students from advantaged backgrounds preform well in larger schools." All 41 pages of this review are at http://www.educatetogether.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Research-lit-review-school-size.pdf .
2007 Literature Review of research on primary school size research
Below is the most recent book, 2014, found so far on school size research: School Size Effects Revisited. Here are two pages from it that summarize.



Reading the above summaries, and especially how small schools appear to most benefit children of poverty, how can Dallas ISD be considering destroying such smaller community schools so as to move our high poverty students into larger, mega-elementary schools?