Thursday, March 12, 2020

3-12-20 Testimony: School Choice, 7th grade Excel Lesson using DISD Family Information file, Single Spreadsheet Transparency Benefits!

Item 6D on today's agenda is about School Choice but fails to address the hundreds of choices Dallas parents have in the over 200 schools that have vacancies in one or more grades that can be filled.  Those vacancies are in effect hidden from the public.  The ability to know where they are must be expanded beyond the need to call the school!  As enrollment numbers are updated daily in the Data Portal, the vacancy numbers in each school for each grade can also be updated using the same data. The daily vacancy numbers should be posted on every schools web page as well as into the School Information File found under the "Resources" tab in the DISD Data Portal.

The School Information File application allows anyone to select which of the 45 variables now available they want included in the spreadsheet that can be created within half a minute with this application in the DISD Data Portal.

If Dallas ISD were to add 14 more data items (Pk through 12) to those available representing the vacancy numbers for each of the 14 grades DISD serves, then parents could immediately know which schools may be available for their child.

With relatively easy computer coding done, the data already posted under the daily enrollment by school and grade under the "Statistics and Reports" would only need to be subtracted from each schools capacity by grade and then posted in the right location for that grade in the School Information File.  Parents would constantly know where they could probably transfer their child after verifying that potential with the school they are considering.

Below is a 7th grade Excel exercise for students to show them the power of Excel using the current Single Spreadsheet Transparency design. It involves trimming down a larger-than-needed spreadsheet to explore DISD Schools using current School Information File spreadsheet information with 14 columns of grade vacancy data added.


Using the School Information file spreadsheet with all data, pretend you are a parent living in Zip Code 75233 but working in 75231.  You want to explore schools both near your home and near your work for your third grade child.  Create a spreadsheet you can fit on one landscape view sheet to include as much of the most useful data as possible about all the DISD schools in these two zip codes, including vacancy data for third grade.

Below is an example only.  You may select other data to include, but you must defend it. With this sheet parents would know what possibilities exist.  Vacancies by grade would increase the value of such a report greatly.

 Data on Dallas ISD schools serving Zip Codes 75233 and 75231

The parents are thinking of the value of time in the car to speak with their third grader as they drive to a school near work versus time saved for school events nearer their home.

What value do you see to an expanded School Information File that may have additional data to use in such considerations?

What data would you want added?


The above exercise is given here as a hint of the power of an expanded Family Information File with 200 more data items, including the 14 vacancy counts by grade, to allow families to fully explore DISD schools and more easily find schools for their child.

Increased Single Spreadsheet Transparency will make Dallas ISD more attractive to more families with a 7th grade ability to explore spreadsheets.  DISD coding staff could probably simply modify the School Information File application more so that even the above erasing of schools and columns would not be necessary for the information the parents were seeking to be available in such a report. Such over-sized spreadsheets for each academic year would increase Dallas ISD transparency over the years dramatically! Public confidence will continue to grow. Anyone with a question could use the current and past year School Information Files to focus on the information they wanted, and changes over time.

Public support for DISD would soar, but only if DISD Administration is also comfortably confident that they can face unknown patterns and issues that may be indicated by some interpretations of the data exposed.  It will not be easy, but it will help DISD grow and improve more than any district in the nation!

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