Before Dallas ISD Sends TEA Its Plan to Save Unacceptable Schools, Your Input's Needed

north dallas higndhs.jpg
North Dallas High School is now in its fifth year of academic unacceptability per the TEA's ratings.
For the past six days, the Dallas Independent School District has been hosting "community meetings" on campuses deemed academically unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency -- 33 in all, based, of course, on last school year's TAKS scores. Tonight's meeting will be held at North Dallas High School, one of two on the list now in its fifth year of unacceptability, which puts it in danger of being shuttered by the state -- a seldom-used option, most recently seen in Austin and Houston in 2008, but a very real option nevertheless.

The other five-year AU campus, incidentally, is A. Maceo Smith, which re-opened last month as a so-called New Tech High in order to avoid having the Texas Education Agency step in and reconstitute or close the school after its years on the AU list.

The district's asking "students, parents and community members to attend the meetings to provide input and find out what the rating means for their school, why their school received the rating, what plans are being made to improve the school, what the consequences are if the school doesn't improve and how they can join in the effort to help make improvements." The town halls will culminate at 4:30 p.m. on September 22 with a public hearing at 3700 Ross, after which the board will submit to the TEA its School Improvement Plans.

You can sneak peek the so-called SIPs for the 33 elementary and secondary schools after the jump. It's the same PowerPoint the trustees will look at during tomorrow's board briefing, and includes such options as Saturday school and mentoring programs and "Compelling Conversations" at the elementary level and freshman early-starts and "student data profiling and review every six weeks" on secondary campuses.

I asked district spokesman Jon Dahlander about North Dallas this afternoon -- specifically, how concerned is the DISD about its future. Because, as TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson reminded me today, "under the law, when you have a six-year AU campus," State Commissioner of Education Robert Scott "has to close it." Dahlander says the district doesn't believe it'll come to that.

"North Dallas is a campus where the state could step in," he says, "but we have a new principal in her second year with an energetic staff." And that, combined with the launch of  Career Pathways, leads DISD officials to believe North Dallas will get turned around.Plus , notes Dahlander, North Dallas couldn't even become a six-year AU campus till 2013 -- since, as we noted yesterday, STAAR test scores won't even count this year, meaning the TEA will not issue accountability ratings next July.

"If they were AU in 2011, come 2013, if they're AU again, then they would be considered six-year," Culbertson confirms. "So they do have a chance to improve -- some breathing room. But they also have to carry out their improvement plans even through they won't get a rating."

Dahlander and Culbertson do point out that schools that have been AU for more than a year will be reconstituted -- which is to say, the district will begin evaluating principals and teachers, removing them from a campus if 3700 Ross believes they're to blame for poor student performance. And monitors -- those chosen by the district and appointed by the TEA -- will be assigned to campuses thought to be in dire need of outside supervision.

"We consider multiple factors when looking at closing a school or a district," Culbertson says. "However, the commissioner just ordered two districts closed next year: North Forest, by Houston, and Premont, which is down by Corpus Christi. It is the final thing he can do to a district or campus that fails to meet academic and/or financial standards."
DISD School Improvement Plans for AU Campuses

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16 comments
Duch
Duch

Question-Delinda Mata-Castro didn't leave the district with her husband?  

MattL1
MattL1

Note to failing schools: It's not cheating if you don't get caught.

mskat
mskat

DISD has great teachers, its the district and TEA that are messing up. Training handbook that is a bunch of crap. If they allow the teachers to do there jobs and teach the Students what they really need and not all that TEST MESS. I belive that if they go back to the Basic way of teaching the students will learn. WHY? should a child fail because he /she miss 2 or 3 questions on a test that has nothing to do with their lives.  THE DISTRICT HAS TOOK ALL THE FUN OUT OF GOING TO SCHOOLS. GET REAL. Why not put wood shop health occupations ect back int to the school. Also Saturday School is not going to work. This is only serve as another day of  babysitting job for the teachers. HECK, if you can't get it in  5 days one more is not going to work. THE DISTRIC NEEDS TO ALLOW TEACHERS TO TEACHER AND NOT PEDDLE PAPER ALL DAY, thats what clerks are for. Also the BOARD SUCKS, they will not stand up to TEA for their teachers  I also notice that all the schools are mostly in the South Dist. DaWayne Carraway is only in it for the Dollar Bills. So are his so-called friends.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Again, pardon me for getting on my soapbox, but DISD needs to call it a day and let someone else take over. Save a few schools and the magnets, the current district is an abject failure. I think its past time to clean house down on ross and bring in fresh thinkers who are more concerned about making sure kids get a quality education than providing sweetheart deals to their friends and family..

Mytwocents
Mytwocents

This all about test scores, not about teaching, or learning.Has it occurred to anyone that maybe the kids aren't motivated to test well? Amazing how scores turn around for the 11th grade exit level tests. I'm not sure the test scores in other grades are indicative of anything besides bad attitudes.

cannedanswer
cannedanswer

COMMIT! is not interested in reforming the district.They are interested in big federal bucks being thrown their way for a "cradle to grave" district.

Uplift tried this once with DISD and missed the federal bonanza. They are back at the trough.

Problem is, with Todd Williams leading, there is a slight conflict of interest. If DISD got better, who would be interested in Uplift? And if the Dallas Morning News falls on its own sword, how will Todd have his own publishing empire to spread his own propaganda for Teach for America.

Stranger still, Uplift already has a failing charter in South Dallas, so exactly what do they add here?

As far as that test where huge hunks of time were wasted on freshmen? That got imported from Uplift's tool box.

So Todd Williams has hooked up with the Mayor who spent major bucks in South Dallas getting elected, Dwayne Caraway, and Lew Blackburn and Todd's going to save them all with plenty of Goldman Sachs money to flash around. Todd's already bought Anchia, so are there any other politicians up for sale south of I-30? Royce West is bound to be sniffing around this gravy train when he isn't defending pedofiles for private schools.

Walking around money just took on a whole new meaning.

DISD Teacher, once again, this isn't about the kids.

Guest
Guest

Is this one of those phony-baloney "let's listen to the constituents and then do what we were going to do anyway" kind of things?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

-Saturday School: We already do what doesn't work 5 days a week, so now let's do 6?

-Compelling Conversations?  We used to have a training based on a book called "Fierce Conversations".  I'd like to have a few fierce conversations with the trustees.

-Mentoring: will not work.  It will make the business people involved feel good and they will get to meet the great kids we have in DISD, but mentoring--just like teaching--cannot overcome the systemic district problems and family issues.  I think the business feel-good effect is why the district hypes mentoring.

-Student Data Profiling:  I wonder what fancy new (expensive) program we'll buy this time to crunch all the numbers.  All the data in the world can't set us free from the idiots at 3700.

Real Solutions:-Find teachers with the highest TAKS scores in their content area at comprehensive secondary schools.  Pay them a bit extra to share and train.  This will mean the end of the useless academic coaches, so this idea will never be implemented.

-Well, we have 1 overage middle school now, but it's several years too late to see the benefit.  Consequences for the thugs instead of consequences for the teachers who can't sweet-talk the thugs and slackers (10% of students) into completing assignments.  We need multiple alternative campuses--some for academic remediation and some for chronic disruptive behavior.

-End the ACPs that drive bad teaching.  To make sure we're all "on the reservation" (Flores' words, I think), the district writes terrible tests to make sure we're teaching what the academic coaches filter and come up with.  A disaster.  Let the most successful teachers write the ACPs.

-End the CEIs to attract the best teachers to the neediest schools.

I have a million more ideas, but we'll let the Commit! folks digest that much.

Sago Milleuwicz
Sago Milleuwicz

" If they allow the teachers to do there jobs and teach the Students what they really need and not all that TEST MESS."

Thanks to NCLB, schools, especially ones with students that must be brought up to minimal skills, are absolutely going to focus on teaching to the test.

if that's a problem, think about the Mainland Chinese school system. It is FAR WORSE in that regard, with rote memorization abound and rural schools getting far far less resources than urban schools. And remember the Sichuan Earthquake, when thousands of children died in faulty schools.

SlamminSammySnead
SlamminSammySnead

And Todd is also Chair of the Citizens Budget Review Committee and drives that bus.  He was originally appointed by Trustee Nuttall last year to be a member while Uplift buddy Phil Montgomery served as chair. Phil left due to family issues and Todd stepped up.  Bernadette was about to be annointed as JWP's choice as candidate for county commissioner position 1 when the FBI raid occurred.  Ms. Nuttall is quiet as a church mouse now but still great friends with Todd.  Lew and the Mayor and Caraway were down at the DMN touting Commit! to the editorial board this morning.  Lew needs a job after Dallas Can! folds so look for Uplift to give him a little help.  This is all about charters and the federal gravy train - as usual the kids are totally screwed.

JanM
JanM

The meetings are held not because they want the input but because they are mandated. so yea, phoney baloney. 

Another DISD Teacher
Another DISD Teacher

Very well stated.  I can't understand why district officials waited until the 11th hour to involve the parents and the community when they could have very easily included them from the beginning.  If the "powers that be" would have spent a third of the time and effort into bringing in the parents and the community as they do wearing down and stressing out the teachers, we wouldn't be in such a huge mess.  Education is a PARTNERSHIP, a relationship between school and community, and we all know what happens when you have one half doing more than their share and the other half doesn't do their part.

Sago Milleuwicz
Sago Milleuwicz

DISD Teacher: "We already do what doesn't work 5 days a week, so now let's do 6?" - More instructional time IS needed to bring underperforming students up to speed - on weekends AND the summer. But I also understand teachers are not superheroes, and they need sufficient support from administrators and trustees.

ms g
ms g

Well said, and thanks

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Yep, and our school board members are more than happy to just turn our tax dollars over to these people.

One wonders how the school board members will be rewarded for opening the gates to Todd Williams and his friends.

DISD's problem is DISD's Board of Trustees.

It's sickening to be sold out by the neighbors you trust to do right by your child.

SlamminSammySnead
SlamminSammySnead

You don't like the trustees now?  Just wait till the Chamber and DCC gets through flooding the campaigns with cash and thief own hand-picked candidates beginning this May.  You ain't seen nuthin' yet.

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