All politicians, especially education leaders, claim to be both transparent and data driven. But how many are transparent to the extent that they share the original sources of the data they are using, sources that are public and easy to locate online, sources that report multiple years of data that are easily followed to show multi-year patterns?
How many can point to conclusive, published, and peer reviewed research that academic progress was verified as changed by whatever methods the leaders are supporting? How many point to spending per student in the 32 cost centers in the PEIMS Financial Reports to validate racial equity in funding between schools? NONE!
Education leaders rarely advertise easy-to-digest public information. They rarely follow data over the years from decade to decade. Only small snapshots of cherry-picked data are used to justify the most recent multimillion-dollar innovations. That seems to be the extent of being "data driven" in our public schools. Peer-reviewed published research is painfully rare.
For education to be data-driven the public must know where to find the information year to year so that, as much as is possible, they can do the driving in "data-driven." They should be led by well informed trustees. Sadly, too few trustees seem to even know the sources of the data needed, or care about exposing the data so that parents and teachers can better understand and support any allegedly "data-driven" changes. Here is a summary of some of those data sources:
The Dallas ISD Data Portal, should be, and almost is, the most valuable source for information for everyone. See https://mydata.dallasisd.org/ It is a very large site. After over a decade of work on it, I can only claim to know more than most residents, but not everything. The main DISD Data Portal menu below has these choices. It is safe to presume that the most-used-choice selected is "Statistics and Reports."
I have invested thousands of hours over the past 15 years working with these 4 alternatives, spending most of my time in the first three choices on enrollment, Data Packets, and the powerful SEI, the School Effectiveness Indices. They are powerful!
Enrollment is only current data. Data Packets have all data for school indicated going back nine years. It is powerful, but all in a pdf file and therefore very difficult to quickly use in showing patterns year to year. That takes work!
SEI (School Effectiveness Indices) data is very powerful and useful in tracking progress in schools. I have used it extensively to follow schools with School Time Capsule Projects. This measure must never be allowed to stop unless replaced by an improvement. It is very useful. It is over 20 years old and unique to DISD as far as I know.
The STARR choice shows the history of such tests by school going back to 2012.
During the past year I have been shown a much more powerful data set that is not in the Statistics and Reports tab but you can find it under the "Resources" tab to the right of "Statistics & Reports":
The "School Information File" is POTENTIALLY the most powerful tool in the Dallas ISD Data Portal. It creates a spreadsheet in seconds with one line for every school and academy in DISD and currently provides 40 variables per school, some of the most critical. It needs to be expanded to hundreds of additional variables per school.
The "School Information File" has the potential of overcoming the greatest weaknesses of the fragmented data systems used by all school systems nationwide, ease of use. None of them have taken the hundreds of major variables per school and placed them into one large spreadsheet with 200+ columns of data per school that could easily be compared with all other schools in the large urban district, or even with all the schools in the state.
The major resistance requests in Dallas for such multi-year transparency have encountered indicate that leaders know what will be exposed: a history of the massive supplantation of federal funds reflecting MASSIVE RACIAL INEQUITY within Dallas ISD!
Here is one design for a "School Equity Spreadsheet" to use in obtaining needed transparency:
Sadly there are many issues related to education equity and investments in schools that Dallas does not want to discuss: http://billbetzen.blogspot.com/2018/04/forbidden-topics-in-education-equity.html .
Resistance in Dallas ISD to discussing racial equity data is happening today with the struggles of the Dallas ISD Racial Equity Office. That office has a full time data staff person who could have created such a Racial Equity Spreadsheet comparing achievement, monetary investments, staffing and multiple other variables for all DISD schools in one spreadsheet. Such a powerful tool would allow the public to both help validate racial equity between schools, or document massive differences, so that true equity goals could be established. It has not happened! Until this changes is appears that the Racial Equity Office is designed to hide racial inequity in Dallas ISD.