Thursday, April 11, 2024

Family & School Time Capsule Project, Documentation on Effectiveness

School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) Data 2006-2023 on 32 DISD Middle Schools & progress with The Family & School Time Capsule Project 

The School Effectiveness Indices data from 2006 through 2023 on 32 DISD middle schools is in the spreadsheet on Page 4 below. It shows annual Dallas ISD SEI scores for each of the 32 non-magnet middle schools from 2006 through 2023.  It singles out the 6 most recently active Family & School Time Capsule Project middle schools in bold. This shows how these 6 schools improved their SEI scores significantly during the 5 years before the Pandemic shut down the letter writing involved in 2020. Schools with Time Capsule vaults with student letters written and stored in those Time Capsule vaults at least two years in row are counted among these 6 schools.  Academic progress demands consistency. SEI scores consistently dropped when annual letter writing suddenly stopped, for whatever reason, in a Time Capsule Project school. 

(To understand the importance of the SEI measure, study, or google the 3 words DISD Data Portal, go to “My Data Portal,” then “Statistics and Reports,” then SEIs.) 

The most recently active six Time Capsule Project middle schools are singled out in bold in the Page 4 chart to reflect the Project progress.  The 32 middle schools are listed in order from the highest 5-year average SEI score from 2015 through 2019, down to the lowest. The numerical order of these middle schools is shown in column T.  The yellow highlights on the spreadsheet mark the years letters were written and stored in each school's Time Capsule Vault.  

Here are some of the most significant patterns indicated to date.

1) The average of SEI data 2006 to 2014 shows that the 6 Time Capsule Project schools were not all high performing before 2015 when they all were in the Project, some for the first year. One school did not even exist. Three were not among the highest 11 scores among the 9-year averages from 2006 to 2014. By 2019 all 6 of these Time Capsule Project Schools were among the 11 highest scores for the 5-year average calculated up to 2019.  See column M for the numerical ranking of middle schools by their 9-year SEI averages, 2006 through 2014. See column T for the numerical ranking by the 5-year SEI averages, 2015 through 2019.

Regarding the earlier SEI average from 2006 to 2014, column M for 2014 shows the 9 year averages for all schools.  Boude Storey was 23rd out of 31 schools in these 2014 9-year averages and T.W. Browne was 30th!  This 2014 SEI 9-year average for T.W. Browne was terrible!  It was only better than 1 other DISD middle school!

2) The improvement for Browne began in 2015, Browne’s third year as a failing school. In 2015 & 2016 the Browne 8th graders wrote letters planning 10-year goals, as was the Time Capsule Project practice at that time. The SEI scores improved to be better than 12 other middle schools both years, but not enough to eliminate the failing status for Browne. 

In 2017 these new Time Capsule letter writing recommendations, developed at Quintanilla in 2016, were followed for all grades at Browne: All students in every grade wrote letters to each parent, each grandparent, and any other parental figure in their life, asking for a letter back about their dreams for that student and a story from the letter writer’s family history. Each of us is the product of at least 6 different genetically connected family histories, each parent and each of our four grandparents. That is why letters are recommended to these 6 individuals requesting letters from them. All letters for and by 8th graders continued to focus on dreams 10 years into the future.

When the student receives a letter from each parent and grandparent, they immediately read them. They ask the writer any questions they may have. Students then, on the assigned day, bring all the letters received to school. In class they prepare a self-addressed envelope to hold all their letters. They put the letters received into the prepared envelope.  Finally, they write a letter to themselves about each letter received, and about their own plans for their own future. The one change only for 8th graders is that goals are 10-year goals. All the letters are sealed into the prepared envelope which is placed into the school’s Time Capsule vault by the volunteer Time Capsule Postmasters. (Such volunteers should be recruited from parents to be the postmaster for their child’s grade. Such volunteers move forward year to year with their child as postmaster to a higher grade each year.)

In 2017 Browne was a fifth year failing school. Consequently, they were receiving the maximum help possible from DISD to prevent the school from failing again and being closed!  With that extra help from DISD, combined with the push from the new Time Capsule Project Model, Browne secured the highest SEI score of any DISD middle school since 2008 in their 2017 SEI score!  That 2017 SEI score of 61.7 by Browne continues to be the standing record today, 15 years later! No non-magnet middle school has done better since 2008.

Only one other middle school of the 31 DISD middle schools in 2017 was even within 5 points of this 2017 remarkable Browne victory as a 5th year failing school suddenly made better than the best!  Browne stuck out! That is the power of students grounded in family support, and roots, and with a firmer view of their goals, and all the extra resources DISD gave a fifth year failing school!

Note about Browne Time Capsule Vault: The 7th and 6th grade letters from 2017 are on shelves for the 8th grade classes of 2018 and 2019 in the vault. Letters were never written after 2017 at Browne, until now.

With no new letters written after 2017 in Browne, Browne suffered a rapid drop in the SEI scores in 2018 and 2019. The 2017 record of 61.7 fell over 13 points to only 48.4 by 2019. The extra DISD resources had also been removed facilitating this drop.

Still, by 2019 Browne was in 7th place with a better 5-year average SEI score, 2015 to 2019, than 25 other DISD middle schools!  Remember, Browne’s 9-year SEI average in 2014 placed them in 30th place among 31 middle schools. Only one school was worse! Now after only 3 years out of 5 using Time Capsule Project methods, they were in 7th place, & had a better 2015 to 2019 5-year average than 25 schools!

A very good SEI-raising principal, Dr. Hughes, was promoted from Assistant Principal at Browne to become the Browne Principal 3 years ago.  By 2023 the Browne SEI was back up to 59.1, and again earned the highest middle school SEI for 2023 of all these 32 schools! (But this score was still 2.6 points below the Browne 2017 SEI record achievement of 61.7!) Dr. Hughes achieved this 2023 score the old-fashioned way, without any Time Capsule Project!

Due to the quality of leadership now at Browne, it is certain that a full repeat of the 2017 Time Capsule letter writing process by Browne students will push the Brown 2024 SEI up past 60! It may even push their 2024 SEI up past their 2017 record, still the highest DISD middle school record SEI score since 2008 of 61.7.

3) The average of SEI data 2015 to 2019 shows that by 2019 all 6 Time Capsule Project schools had high SEI averages that placed them among the top 11 of all 32 middle schools. Quintanilla was the highest 5-year average SEI school with only the Young Women's STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School with a 5-year SEI average almost a point higher than Quintanilla's. The Women's STEAM Academy was not a Time Capsule Project school, just a great school without it! 

The 3rd place school's SEI average was over 3-points below Quintanilla. Quintanilla is the oldest DISD Time Capsule Project school by 6 years. Quintanilla started the Project in 2005, but constantly improved the process with the most productive changes happening in 2016.

In 2016, following recommendations from the Language Arts Coach, all students in every grade began writing letters to each parent and grandparent asking for their letter about their dreams for the student and a story from the family history. In 2016 alone the percentage of children getting letters from parents almost tripled from never more than 30% since 2010 to past 80%! That is the power of having students in English Language Arts classes themselves write directly to each of their parents and grandparents asking for their own letters! A letter from the principal simply does not have the same power.

4) In 2020 the Pandemic struck! None of the Time Capsule Project schools wrote letters for the vault. Then, only Rosemont resumed letter writing in 2021. Consequently, the Quintanilla 2019 SEI score fell 11 SEI points by 2023, while the 2023 Rosemont score rose to be 11 points higher than Quintanilla’s score in 2023!

Said another way, Quintanilla had 2019 SEI scores that were the highest of all middle schools, and 10 points higher than Rosemont in 2019. In 2020 Time Capsule Project letter writing stopped at all 6 schools, until now, but restarted at Rosemont in 2021. By 2023 the Quintanilla 2023 SEI score was 11 points lower than Rosemont's 2023 score, the second highest of any middle school. That's one result of Quintanilla stopping a focus on roots & goals vs continuing that same focus as Rosemont! 

There was a 21-point SEI shift in opposite directions between these two schools!  That reflects the power of a school’s consistent focus on family roots and goals, & the damage done when that focus is lost by a school!

5) "Correlation does not equal causation" is correct, but these repeated academic fluctuations up and down, as associated with the Time Capsule Project, are remarkably consistent!

This open-source project needs formal research! Please share this with anyone planning to get a PhD in human behavior or education and needing to do a research thesis. Such PhD research to explore what is happening in the virtually NO-COST, OPEN-SOURCED, VOLUNTEER-BASED School Time Capsule Project will certainly lead to the publication of at least one book! The Time Capsule Project alone would provide data for multiple doctoral students.


Bill Betzen, LMSW (Emeritus),

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