Read, Then Comment On, Dallas Independent School District's New "Improvement Plan"

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Whilst trolling the Dallas ISD's website last night, I noticed that the district has posted its 2012-2013 District Improvement Plan, a 21-page look at all that ails DISD and offers general fix-its to accommodate its myriad needs. And needs there are: The word appears dozens of time over a handful of pages as 3700 Ross lays out its so-called "Comprehensive Needs Assessment" to address deficiencies ranging from student performance to parental involvement to teacher retention to under-performing campuses to college readiness.

Following an outline based upon the district's 10 so-called "core values" adopted by the trustees last month, the doc is more or less the district's own report card commingled with a self-correction plan, which is why the district's asking for comments -- pardon, "recommendations." From the intro:
According to student achievement on TAKS and ITBS, there is a need to develop and continually revise a clear, specific, and rigorous curriculum, including intervention strategies, by grade and subject in all content areas. This curriculum will be aligned to the district's strategic plan and theory of action based on best practices that are focused on content and pedagogy. In addition, there is a need to provide professional development to central and campus-based staff to ensure proper implementation of curriculum and pedagogy.
The whole thing follows. There are, at present, but three comments on the plan, two from DISD employees. The other is from someone who believes that while the goals spelled out in the doc are "thoughtful," they're also a bit too ... intangible, say. "If you want to improve make an improvement plan that can be executed clearly," writes one Charles Ochoa, "not something that is widely open to interpretation such as this document." Dallas ISD 2012-2013 District Improvement Plan

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13 comments
Tired
Tired

Want tomake the district better? Hire an educator, not a bean counter, asSuperintendent, elect different board members, ask teachers what ideas theyhave and allow them to answer without the fear of retaliation. Ask parents andstudents what they want to see happen in their schools and implement the bestideas from all. Stop wasting money on dumb field trips, new evaluation systems,computer monitoring programs, more central staff, exploratory committees andmore useless projects like this new DIP that will probably only bepartially enforced then forgotten about like so many other DISD initiatives. Let's face it, the board is going to to what they want to in the end. Why doesn't DISD just start making things better by filling out paperwork correctly and on time so wecan keep the funding we have.

StopDISD.org
StopDISD.org

 “Trust us,” DISD constantly tells the voters and taxpayers in response to our concerns.  How, I ask you, can we trust an entity that spent 2.6 million just a few short years ago in renovations only to turn around and demolish the historical O.M. Roberts.  How can we trust an entity that has closed 11 schools to save tax dollars, has recently voted to close O.M. Roberts elementary the very school DISD now argues it needs to rebuild with 22 million tax dollars it does not have, and still, regardless of that, moves steadfastly forward with plans to destroy a community in order to construct a school it cannot fully house or afford!? 

And let's not forget that in November of 2010, The Dallas school board passed an anti-bullying policy for students, so I ask you, how can this policy be enforced when our DISD leaders continue to break their own rules?  The Jubilee Park community was threatened with eminent domain and Dallas City Council was threatened with lawsuits if DISD didn't get approval to build a school it doesn't not need?  How can we trust an entity that promised to make the best decision for our students and communities but has done the total opposite?  An improved curriculum and better compensation for our teachers is what's best for our students and community! 

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

The word "need" occurs 55 times in the 21 page document.  DISD really is needy but the document says they need more trainers, instructional development personnel and professional development personnel to throw at the teachers.What I didn't see were coherent specific solutions but rather amorphous generalities.  

What we really need are more good teachers and less micro-managment in the classroom by all these administrators who bombard our teachers with "make-work" to justify their jobs.

DISD needs to trust the teachers...trust but verify...but it all begins with trust and there is scant evidence that commodity exists.

Andrea R
Andrea R

And so far this article only has 2 comments after being published for 3 hours. There is way too much apathy surrounding our school district.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I find it ironic they're shutting down high-performing schools and now they're concerned about student performance....But, this is the DISD after all..As long as they keep the low-hanging fruit on staff on Ross Ave, Students and their parents will never get the quality education they deserve..

OC Banshee
OC Banshee

The true need spelled out in this plan is the need to keep their departments thus their jobs. Simply prop the org chart next to the plan and as you read it starts to make sense.  There is no improvement here only a continuation of previous failures.  This is a patchwork of submissions from departments in a desperate attempt to justify their existence. Note all the references and think Org Chart.  It comes together nicely...but without substance. 

cliffhanger
cliffhanger

Yes. I don't know how it is now, but when I was a kid in the HP school systems, Principals were both empowered and held accountable for their schools. They stayed there for years. They made sure that teachers were good at their jobs by looking at whether or not their students could, oh, I don't know, read and write and do math, not with bogus CEIs and other make-work for Admins. junk.

It's simple, really. Hire good principals and teachers, and let them do their jobs. Structure their pay so they aren't tempted to move into administration. And, since you're paying more money to principals and teachers, hire fewer administrators.

Wondering
Wondering

Apathy about the district, or the district's administration?

Guest
Guest

Will the students and staff perform worse in the different buildings?

Andrea R
Andrea R

Why should we be apathetic about the administration right now when there is an opportunity to shake things up with a new district superintendant? I loved this article from DMN that came out a couple of weeks ago http://www.dallasnews.com/opin.... Come on, people! Get excited about the possibilities here!

RTGolden
RTGolden

or..... maybe people are at work?

Andrea R
Andrea R

Maybe people are at work, but that hasn't stopped them from commenting on other articles during the day. And as Robert mentioned, there are only 3 comments on the actual plan and it's been published on dallasisd.org for a couple of days now. But to your point, I'm just now getting the chance to read through it, and here are the comments I just submitted:

1. "Its vision is to be a premier urban school district" This should be changed from "a" to "the" premier urban school district, because we need to raise the bar as high as possible for our kids. 2. Under the Key Strategy 2 "Develop physical, social, emotional, and behavioral supports to ensure maximum academic performance," there should be a priority for healthier food in the cafeteria, and not just healthier "options," because we know that if given a choice, many students will choose the tastier, fried option over the salad.3. Under Key Strategy 3 "Ensure highly effective teachers for every student," consideration should be given to modifying the perameters surrounding tenure. Teachers who are burned out or not cutting it should not be guaranteed the same position for the duration of their career. They should be demoted to TA or given warnings with severe consequences.4. Under Key Strategy 5 "Develop shared responsibility with parents and guardians that fosters academic success and self-management of learning" - DISD needs to work with law makers to enforce employers to compensate parents for a reasonable number of hours per year that would allow them to volunteer at their schools during work hours. Also, how about allowing parents to send their children to schools near their office as opposed to their homes so that they can more easily be involved? This could be a statewide change that would potentially ease the some burdens of overcrowded classrooms and encourage collaborative efforts with other districts in the region.5. Goals 8 & 10 - Data and Innovation & Facilities, respectfully attained by Key Strategy #6 "Innovative Schooling in the 21st Century (ISC)" are great, and the same approaches should be made in staff development meetings to inspire teachers to use more creative and up to date methods of teaching. I am not a teacher, but have been told by several teachers that these training sessions can be extremely mundane and uninspiring.

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