Dallas ISD Says As Many As 33 Schools May Be Rated Academically Unacceptable

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We went over this last year: Despite the fact the Dallas Independent School District board was just given a presentation on preliminary TAKS scores for the school year that just wrapped, the Texas Education Agency won't formally release its 2011 Accountability Ratings till July 29. That said, there are some notable items of interest and concern, chief among them: The district says 33 schools may be rated Academically Unacceptable, more than doubling last year's total of 14.

The district's release blames that jump, in part, on the fact the state no longer uses the controversial (and now outlawed) Texas Projection Measure, which juiced the numbers.

"Absolutely, of course" it's troubling, DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander says. "The thing is, the scores of the students haven't necessarily changed, and it can be demoralizing to the schools but the bottom line is: What are we doing for each child? That's what we've always been concerned about." Dahlander also says a 5-percent increase in some state standards affected this year's results.

[Update: When I initially caught Dahlander to talk test scores, he was in the middle of giving his upstairs-snack bar lunch order. He has asked for the opportunity to clarify and sends this: "We've seen progress during the last five years in every subject, and that continued this year in math, science and social studies. Because the criteria changed, however, it can be demoralizing to schools. The bottom line, however, school ratings or not, should be what are we doing for each child? That's what we should always be concerned about."]

Nevertheless, here's the drill: Dahlander says eight of the 33 were already on the AU list. Depending upon how long they've been on there, there could be significant consequences. First-year AU's would get "a technical advisory team to help then work out a plan to improve the school," TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson tells Unfair Park. "At year two they have to prepare a reconstitutional plan, and if they got into three years, they have to implement that plan. After that the sanctions only get heavier: A conservator or monitor might be brought in to work with the school, and most serious would be the state closes the campus and has it repurposed."

I listened in on some of the presentation following the budget discussion, and Cecilia Oakeley, associate superintendent over Evaluation and Accountability, was the one walking the trustees through the presentation. At one point she pointed to the drop in writing scores and said, yes, Dallas dropped 3 percentage points -- but Houston and the state as a whole dropped 2 points, so the DISD's more or less on par with its peers.

She also blamed the drop on the fact that "little by little the state infused STAAR-type items into" the TAKS test, and teachers didn't prep their students accordingly. Bernadette Nutall and Mike Morath said, look, you wanna speculate, that's fine. But where's the info to back that up? Culbertson's looking into that and says she'll get back to us with the answer.

[Update: Culbertson says that while there was some STAAR "field testing" during the school year, there was absolutely no commingling of the two during the TAKS testing.]

Mortath also didn't like comparing Houston and Dallas, since, as he put it, "Houston's Highland Park" is actually in the HISD, which tends to skew its scores.

Regardless, the district's got serious issues to address: "We had made progress," Dahlander says, "and we could be back there again," referring to state sanctions over the number of AUs.

The whole announcement follows.
PRELIMINARY TAKS RESULTS PRESENTED TO BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Gains and Decreases Mirror Results Statewide;
Number of Unacceptable Schools Expected to Increase

DALLAS- Students in the Dallas Independent School District posted gains in the subjects of mathematics, social studies and science on this year's Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

Preliminary results were presented to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees today.

The percentage of Dallas ISD students passing the Mathematics test increased by 1.2 percent while the percentage of students passing the state's science and social studies tests increased 0.9 percent in both subjects. The percentage of district students passing the state's reading test dropped 0.1 percent, while the percentage of district students passing the state writing test, given in both 4th and 7th grade, fell 1.2 percent.

Overall, the gains and decreases in Dallas ISD were similar to how students performed statewide. Dallas' gains were greater than the amounts of positive change statewide in math, science and social studies.

Dallas ISD also saw gains in all subjects except writing in the percentage of students passing at commended levels. The percentage of students passing at commended levels in science increased 2.1 percent and in social studies by 3.1 percent. The percentage of students passing at the commended level in reading/English/Language Arts and Mathematics increased by 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. The percentage of students passing at commended levels in writing decreased by 1.3%.

The percentage of African American students passing the Mathematics test, which has been an emphasis of the board and administration, improved during 2011. From 2010 to 2011, Dallas had equal or higher gains than the state in 7 of 9 grade comparisons. During the same period, the percentage of African American students passing at commended levels in Dallas was equal or higher than gains made at the state level in 8 of 9 grade comparisons.

A number of accountability standards changed in 2011. The standard to be named an academically acceptable school was raised 5 percent in both math and science. The state also required more special education students be included in accountability ratings. New requirements, including commended performance and English language learner progress, were added for schools to be named Recognized and Exemplary. In addition, the state no longer uses the Texas Projection Measure, which gauges indicators of future student progress.

With these changes factored in, it appears that Dallas ISD will have 30 Exemplary schools and as many as 66 Recognized schools when accountability ratings are released in late July/early August. 94 schools will likely be rated Academically Acceptable and 33 schools may be rated Academically Unacceptable, based on academic performance. Had the Texas Projection Measure remained in use, 50 district schools would have been rated Exemplary, 67 schools would be rated Recognized and 5 schools would be rated Academically Unacceptable based on academic performance.

Overall, passing rates in Dallas ISD rose slightly, which were similar to state changes. Commended rate gains in Dallas ISD surpassed passing rate gains in Reading, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Science and mathematics showed the highest increase in percent passing since 2005 and social studies showed the highest increase in percent commended, up 24 points, since 2005.

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19 comments
RTGolden
RTGolden

How can anyone hope to fix DISD?  It quite literally can't be done; not with the bunch of scissorbills and pocket pilferers that are running it.I've said it before, and I see others here saying it as well, there are three keys to educational success: Teacher motivation, Student engagement, Parental involvement.  Get those three things going and most of the rest will fall into place.Standardized testing only accomplishes one thing, bringing every kid to a single level, usually a low one.  When teachers and schools are evaluated based on a set of test scores, they end up teaching the tests.  Students realize they aren't learning anything of any value, and besides, there's football, video games, and netflix to be tended to.  Parents, well, for the most part, they don't care one way or the other.Go back to the three R's (figuratively, readin', ritin', rithmatic' (but let's keep science and history in there as well).  Leave out all of the social agenda BS you find in schools, and, despite my very deep conservative views, Keep the damn church out of the schools.  Teach our kids what they need to know in order to compete on a world stage, not just against Houston.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I know rats leaving sinking ships, but  in this case the rat sailed the ship into the iceberg, and moved to Georgia before the BOT noticed the boat is 3/4 flooded.

Some of us were trying to call "bullstuff" on Hinojosa all last year, but the BOT wouldn't listen. Now the reality of those "improved" test scores is sinking in, and we're all just plain sunk.

Forget improving things.  It's going to take the new super--and please, hopefully a BOT that cares more about kids than contracts--years to just stop things from getting worse. 

rumpunch
rumpunch

Mike, you will probably know this.  Is there a chart or list which supports the District's assessment of the schools within each of the categories for 2011?  The DIstrict has obviously crunched the data, however my experience with DISD, they do not like to show their work when doing math. 

DISD, I am an accountant.  You do not have to spare me the details, i can handle it.

Montemalone
Montemalone

While there's plenty of incompetence at 3700, don't forget that learning is a two-sided endeavour.Students that show no interest and make no effort won't learn. I never hear that mentioned.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I am glad Michael Hinojosa is gone. Maybe we can get a superintedent that is going to raise the bar for our children and not cut programs that are proven. 

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Thank you, TEA, for not releasing this information until after Cobb Co., GA hired Hinojosa.

tracker
tracker

So when the trumped up TPM scores said we were progressing, it was because of Michael Hinojosa's leadership. Good thing he doesn't need a new resume right now.

LaceyB
LaceyB

So, by those very first numbers, students have improved in drawing numbers (the correct ones in the correct places), and they can point to places on the map accurately. But, they've become WORSE in reading and writing over the last year?

We're bemoaning and blaming the fact that there are higher standards this year, rather than rising to the new challenge.

Parents should be pissed at the board, pissed that such ridunkulously complicated testing measures are taking place, that in one method over 30 schools are fine, and in another, unacceptable. They should have their children in some form of summer tutoring, school, or build an at-home reading program with minor incentives (and tests).

trashtalk
trashtalk

Let's rewrite the press release.

Dallas probably has the largest percentage of Unacceptable high schools in Texas. The majority of its high schools are failing. Where was most of the money pulled off campuses? Oh, yeah...

African American students outside the magnets are failing at much larger numbers than any other groups. Probably the $800,000 consultant brought in to instruct on hip hop didn't help much, but he had old time ties to a board member.

The way the press release is written preserves the top salaries in the district. They write the outcome in a way that would make the Holocaust just seem like a problem suffered by other countries, so it's no big deal.

If the DO can't read the data, find someone who can and then figure out where your children would go to high school in Dallas if they can't get in a magnet. Then make your child African American and figure out the chances outside a magnet.

For all you Lakewood WW junkies, your school is sliding down the drain, IB or no. You lost your actual instructional leader, and if principals were fired for low scores, yours would be toast.

As for Bernadette, looked at Lincoln or Madison's scores? Pulling more personnel off those campuses is the answer? How about cutting the pay at the top since these schools are failing, especially after they received cuts last year.  Think you need another $100,000 a year Athletic Director because Claudia said so?  Better wake up and take care of business.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

DISD always tries to buy a new trick pony.

DISD consistently ignores the top teachers and principals.

That's my nutshell version.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Here's what failing schools get:  a team of 3700-level irrelevants and "academic coaches" telling them what to do.  Worthless. Here's what failing schools (and the district as a whole) need:   -Go find your top-performing teachers in comprehensive schools AND LET THEM WRITE THE TEKS-BASED CURRICULUM.  And CEIs mean nothing--find the teachers with the best TAKS scores and ask them to share their ideas.  FIRE THE ACADEMIC COACHES WHO WRITE WORTHLESS CPGs AND ARE FAILING TO IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF STRUGGLING SCHOOLS. Teachers want help from other teachers, not from some overpaid person who hasn't been in a classroom in years. -Go get the principals of the most successful schools and pay them extra to co-run another campus.  Let them spend MWF on the failing campus and T TH on the successful campus.   

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

"Absolutely, of course" it's troubling, DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander says. "The thing is, the scores of the students haven't necessarily changed..."

The scores haven't changed...that's the problem! They are also lower than Houston ISD, our "peer". Just wait until next year when the more difficult STARR test is implemented. Why aren't parents more upset?

Rumpunch
Rumpunch

The sad part was it was not "some" of us calling Hinojosa on his crap, there were quite a lot of us.  The BOT did listen, however they just ignored or went on the defensive.  Near the end of the Hinojosa term, his lies were catching up to him and his support was fading.  He saw this and knew his days were numbered.

Rumpunch
Rumpunch

You never hear that mentioned by 3700 Ross, however those who know me know my 3 sided theory - Program, student interest and parent interest.  A child success is guaranteed when all three elements are present.  Most of the Trustees do not see the other two elements.  Hinojosa never did.  The proof of this was his contention that if money were moved from the magnets to the comprehensives, they would enjoy the same success. That would be true if it wasn't for those pesky students and parents.

The magnet's success is a direct result of a nexus of these elements.  You put an abitious student with parental support in a good program then suprise! success.  For my Woodrow neighbors - the same is true.  The abitious students and involved parents are making that school great.  With the new programs being offered, even greater things will happen.  However, now is a good time for you to perform a Hinojosa Koolade Cleans and realize the lack of money for your programs wasn't due to theft from the Magnets, it was theft by the schools full of kids who don't want to be there.

I am not saying that we should not fund the other schools.  What I am saying is that it is idiodic to assume that the same funding at each school will yield the same results.  The failure of Title I has shown that spending even more money at low performing schools will not yield the same results.  Efforts at young ages are necessary to give opportunies to those student, but at a certain point, if acheivement is not evident, it is not there.

I will leave you with a simple illustration.  If you have two carpenters, one skilled and on unskilled.  You give the skilled carpenter broken and incomplete tools.  You give the unskilled carpenter brand new pro-level tools.  The work of the skilled carpenter will still be superior.  Therefore the old saying "a bad carpenter always blames his tools."

 

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Hi Joyce!  The problem, of course, is knowing just exactly which programs move the needle on student achievement.  If there is one thing that became clear to many on the budget commission it's that DISD often doesn't know the efficacy and effectiveness of many of the programs.  The next push should be a program-by-program, contract-by-contract review of every vendor in the district.  That will not be easy but it could save us a fortune and redirect monies back into the classroom where it's needed. In addition, wasteful spending on travel ($2.4M last year), legal fees, Dave and Busters cards, breakfasts at the Adolphus, ad nauseum, must be stopped.

Teacher in OC
Teacher in OC

Agreed. And if you want reading and writing scores to go up, maybe stop sending a classroom set of novels and send me a copy of a book per student?

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

 I agree with you about program by program assessment, but who is going to do it?  Hinojosa did not leave not one executive administrator that I would trust with that job.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Well, here is where the general mistrust of the district hurts us all.  Although this is a project that could be guided by an ongoing budget commission I think it should probably be done by an outside (dare I say it) consulting company. Paying a reputable group a few million to save us a hundered million is well worth it...but will be a difficult sell to the community.

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