Friday, March 29, 2013

High-Stakes testing and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have roots in Dallas ISD

The story of high-stakes testing and the  test and punish requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) includes a role played many years ago at Dallas ISD.  

The early role played by Dallas ISD in the development of the test and punish "accountability" movement started with a Commission For Educational Excellence (1990-91) appointed by Dallas ISD Trustees and headed by Sandy Kress - an attorney who moved to Austin,Texas and later became "the principal architect of Texas’s accountability system."

I served on that Dallas ISD Commission For Educational Excellence (1990-91) and supported a minority report dissenting from certain recommendations made in the full Commission report to the Board of Trustees.
Rewarding Effective Schools -Theory and Practice in an Outstanding Schools Awards Program (March 1997)

William J. Webster Robert Mendro Donna K. Bearden Karen L. Bembry Heather R.Jordan
Dallas Public Schools Introduction
In 1990, the Board of Education of the Dallas Public Schools established a Commission for Educational Excellence to examine the instructional aspects of the District and to make any necessary recommendations to help improve the education of the District's students. Among the Commission's recommendations was to establish a method to identify effective schools and teachers relative to their students' outcomes. Further, the Commission recommended that the most effective schools be rewarded and the least effective schools be helped to assist them in improving their students' outcomes (Commission, 1991). Adopting the Commission's recommendations, the Board directed the administration to develop a system for a) identifying effective and ineffective schools in an equitable fashion and b) rewarding effective schools for their achievements. The system was to be based primarily on student achievement but to include and allow for non-achievement variables. Awards were to be sufficiently substantial to have meaning to the participants. The system was developed and put into place in the 1991-92 school year. Effective and ineffective schools have been identified each year and, in the 5 years of the program, approximately 11 million dollars have been awarded to staff members.

Click Here
A large part of the high-stakes testing and No Child Left Behind story was recently told in a January 13, 2013 article written by Tom Paulken in the publication - The American Conservative

meckert75 / Flickr
meckert75 / Flickr

"Seventeen months from now, every American student will be proficient in reading, and mathematics. On what basis do I make such a bold claim? It’s the law.

When the No Child Left Behind Legislation was signed by President George W. Bush 11 years ago, it required that by the end of 2013-2014 school year, “all students… will meet or exceed the State’s proficient level of academic achievement on the State assessments.”

If you find it absurd that we can make all our students above average with the stroke of the presidential pen, you’re not alone. The 100 percent proficiency goal of NCLB is now widely acknowledged to be a pipe dream. Recent trends indicate that schools are not even headed in the right direction; and, in much of the press, the 100 percent proficiency goal has become something of the punch line of a joke. Meanwhile, in a move that tacitly acknowledges the unworkability of the current law, the Department of Education is granting NCLB waivers to states which will make it easier for them to skirt the requirements."

More Here

"Texas is where the failed policies of NCLB, along with an almost pathological obsession with testing, had their start.

"For the past two decades, excessive emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing and a one-size-fits-all focus on preparing all students for college came to dominate education policy in Texas and later, in Washington, D.C. with the passage of the Bush-Kennedy “No Child Left Behind” legislation. In addition, vocational education came to be neglected—even denigrated—in this massive push to make all students “college-ready.” Meanwhile, the principle of local control over education (which historically had been a deeply-held belief of Goldwater-Reagan Conservatives) was abandoned by Republican politicians in Texas and Washington, D.C., in their rush to be known as “educational reformers.”

"The principal architect of Texas’s accountability system was a lawyer from Dallas named Sandy Kress. The most thorough analysis of Kress’s role in pushing Texas’s education policy in the direction of a high-stakes testing system was one written by Mark Donald for the October 19, 2000 issue in the Dallas Observer right before George W. Bush’s election to the presidency. Entitled “The Resurrection of Sandy Kress,” Donald’s article described how Democrat Kress and Republican Bush came to be close allies in pushing Kress’s vision of “educational accountability.”

"Moreover, Sandy had not exactly distinguished himself in the early 1990s when he chaired the board of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), during one of the most tumultuous periods in DISD history.

"Many students get frustrated with the current one-size-fits-all test-based system with its emphasis on pushing everyone towards college; and they drop out because they don’t see education as relevant to them.

"Texas policy-makers are coming to the realization that the high-stakes accountability system is fundamentally flawed.

"Even longtime proponents of high-stakes, standardized testing are starting to question the wisdom of the current system of school accountability. As reported by Paul Burka in Texas Monthly, the former commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, Robert Scott, made this startling admission in a speech to the Texas Association of School Administrators: “I believe that testing is good for some things, but the system that we have created has become a perversion of its original intent, the intent to improve teaching and learning. The intent to improve teaching and learning has gone too far afield, and I look forward to reeling it back in.

Alexander "Sandy" Kress
Partner, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, L.L.P.
Alexander "Sandy" Kress is an attorney at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld & LLP in Austin, Texas, focusing on public law and policy at the state and national levels. He formerly served as an education advisor to President George W. Bush. Prior to that, he served as president of the board of trustees of the Dallas Independent School District.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Confessions of a black school reformer

This book of fiction - "The Garden Path: The Miseducation of a City" is about the radical changes in New Orleans K-12 education after hurricane Katrina devastated the city. 

New Orleans is now charter school heaven - one of the most radical charter school experiments in educational history - made possible by politicians and reformers taking advantage of the hurricane Katrina natural disaster.

garden path 

"Here’s a post about a new book on school reform — “The Garden Path: The Miseducation of a City — by Andre Perry — that smacks opposing sides of the debate. This was written by Natalie Hopkinson. a contributing editor to The Root DC. E-mail her at  This appeared on The Root D.C."

Click Here

“We needed good ideas, but we also needed people to bring them to fruition and stay the course afterward,” he writes. “Change without community input spells danger and failure.”

The Promise of Vouchers

Milton Friedman, Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2005

"Most New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system."

The Shock Doctrine: An Excerpt From the Introduction

"In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans' school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city's poor residents still in exile, New Orleans' public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools."
Click Here 

DISD Insider Underground Resistance says, "This is a hysterical time in DISD"

From DISD Insider Underground Resistance ...

I received a copy of the statement below responding to a recently published Dallas Observer news article by Jim Schutze on protecting school principals.

The Real Victims in School Reform Battles Are Kids Who Can Be Taught and Aren't

Putting PrinciPals Before PrinciPles

Carolyn Davis Comes Out Swinging Against School Reform, in Defense of Principals' Jobs

Mike Miles vs. Patronage: DISD's Impending Principal Purge - Click Here

The North Dallas Plot to Take Over DISD

Mike Rawlings Endorses DISD Candidates, Continues His Wade into District Politics



MAR 2 1 2013

TO: Jim Schutze- Dallas Observer          BOARD SERVICES

FROM: DISD Insider Underground Resistance

See attached: Article

The attached was reviewed by us DISD insiders, and of course working within this vindictive regime, it is not wise to reveal names. This is why we had chosen the name DISD Insider Underground Resistance. We chose this in honor of the warriors from the Underground Railroad days and the World War II days who fought against the slavery and Hitler regimes. It is because of the similarities of cruelty, disregard for human beings, and the general Hitler-like, Plantation-owner like behavior (think Django) of Emperor Miles that we decided to go underground to fight . We also vetted this with those who are "fortunate" recent departees to get their perspective from outside since the outsiders (idiot Board Members and the Press) that should know better, apparently are drinking from this "Jim Jones" koolaid willingly.

Here goes:

  1. Why is it always assumed that folks are trying to protect 'bad' principals? Have you actually reviewed the number of principals who have been replaced in the schools that you are apparently targeting (or rather those that have been targeted for you --we are convinced that someone from upper administration and the Board is feeding you info- much of what you write you could not possibly know; and it is clear you do minimal journalistic investigation- more on that later.) Who is trying to protect principals? And if you can identify the "who"•..are they protecting principals or are they insuring a fair process of assessment? Note your response to MacNaughton about the culmination to a'long process of evaluation"- what long process??? The Board did not approve the Principal Evaluation Instrument until the end of January 2013. There were NO goal setting conferences in the Fall, and principals were just asked to sign mid-year conference goal setting documents in February!!! And final Summative Conferences in March! The fourth 61 weeks of six 6 Weeks of school...based on what???
No student scores are even back!III A LONG assessment process or just going through the steps!!! Lawyers we have checked with think it is the latter and that 'pig won't fly'!
  1. Is it a 'hit list'? Yep --there are EDs who report they have been given a 'quota' to meet and the 'quota' was given early in the school year (someone even said that during the third week of the school year, the Superintendent was asking how many principals would fail, and wanted numbers!) Some EDs with integrity have refused to 'play' this unethical game and are looking outside the District for work in places that are not unethical and going the unsavory route that DISD is apparently now headed.
  2. MacNaughton is right - Emperor Miles shoots from the hip and is hell bent on establishing a reputation of being Mr. Tough Guy. He has not taken the time (or does not have the skills) to do basic 101stuff--- his trainings while at first well received have proven to be 'consultant' stuff with very little substance and the research we have done does not show any of this to have any validity for moving student achievement. We also went back and did what the Idiot Board apparently did not do...checkedthe schools in Harrison (remember this guy's total experience has been only in Colorado- a real hub of urban education and in a teeny, tiny school district with no real credible achievement -where are the Blue Ribbon Schools and the schools listed as models in any credible educational research journai...NO WHERE!)
  1. Emperor Miles is a phony! And a liar! The model he is using, is one that Broad Fellows (think 'Road to Broad') have been using throughout the country without success (did you even bother to check???)
Kansas City- Broad Fellow Supt- went in, year one turned central office upside down; put principals on notice and replaced year two; put teachers on notice re tying evaluation to student performance- year three (left town with the District in shambles -they are still trying to pick up the pieces); look at Chicago- why do you think the teachers went on strike and wonI Okay- guess you have enough to get you started -just check this model out around the country (it is not original with Emperor Miles though he would have you think it is --it is just as phony as the research he quotes which is not credible
-it is his own writings in second rate journals!)
  1. You get the point hopefully and so do wei Is there a need for change? YESIII Do bad principals and bad teachers need to have consequences? YES! I! Is there a credible process or credible processes tomake this happen in a fair, equitable, consistent manner that will have positive impact on kids learning?
YES. Is it in place now in DISD? NOI So what is going on?

From a departee: similar to the holocaust, slavery, the segregation Jaws, etc, members of the press were very aware of what was going on but turned a blind eye and believed the hype from within -some because it was too horrific to believe that it was actually possible that
such atrocities could happen; or some too self-centered to want to be an outsider to the status
quo; or some just too lazy to do the basic journalistic research. Or is probably the case with Schultze, the others like DMN are an absolute lost cause, be so wants the schools to reform, be is open to any hype that sounds credible and bas not taken the time to look beneath the surface of the hype (actually be should as it would not take much --a brief conversation with a few folks would be very revealing)-- I doubt that be wiU as be basput himseK out on a limb and it takes a pretty big person to say, bey I was wrong. Not sure be bas what it takes to do that.

From departee 2: when I saw what this guy wanted us to do with principals and teachers who are really good people and eRective, the ones that came in his cross bows (either because they actually had an opinion and expressed it; or one of the idiots on the Board did not like them; or they did not genuflect enough for the boss), I /mew I bad to get out of there. I come from outside of education and I have never seen an environment like this either in DISD or from other institutions. I think a mental health assessment of the man is in order.

From departee 3: I really admire Mike and thought be did a really good job in Colorado. He does have a big ego and wants to be known as a great educational reformer- be has his eyes set on Washington. I think this job was more than be anticipated and it has just brought out the worse in him. But I wiU teOyou be is doing much of what members of the Board want him to do. He is not an idiot. He can count to 5.

From departee 4: DISD will be broke in a year or two under this guy; be is clueless and simply does not want to listen/ Very dangerous business to think you /mow it all.

  1. Emperor Miles is clueless I The guy does not know the basics of school administration. Principals sit in meetings astounded at what little he knows•••he can answer no questions, even the most basic ones. That has never been the case with any DISD Superintendent -the same is the case in the Open Mike Meetings- the guy is clueless! Yet you trust that he is doing what is right for kids. If these kids were not majority Brown, Black and poor, would you let him continue with this experimentation (from a departee - noted that what is going on is similar to the experiments that happened to Black males in the 60's...if they had been white it would never have happened.)
  2. He can count to 5 and so can we. 5 Board Members apparently support this mania. And we know that two white Board Members asked that Bingham and Cowan be endorsed to maintain the white majority to keep the 5 count (this while there is lack of proportional Hispanic representation on the Board, but these two represent majority Hispanic constituents.) And apparently so do you (someone said the most dangerous person to the advancement of people of color and the poor, is a middle class and upper middle class white liberals- seems sol)
  1. Have you done basic research on the leaders? We have...most were being released from their previous positions, or have never had any school leadership experience but are leading principals! Sevack -a researcher; Dominquez - released from Uplift. Reyna- Ft Worth was dumping her; Doughboy- no HR experience at alii Spann- no campus based experience- and we can give you more. We are checking them all out and it is scary that these are the folks who are evaluating (such as it is) principals!

At the end of the day, it will be a greater power that corrects this as we know that there is a God who looks after fools and babies, and the babies need to be looked after. (By the way, one of the team noted that the notion that Black folks from the same sororities and fraternities, and churches get jobs is so very white! College educated Black folks almost all belong to a sorority or fraternity, and there is almost a 90% chance that most are educators•••duhI)

Schutze- do your homework! Do due diligence! Get on the right side of this if you care about kids, ethics, fairness and justice; or history will have you in the same boat with those journalists who thought those calling for attention to the evils of slavery; the horrors of the holocaust; and the evil of Jim Crow were just being hysterical! This is a hysterical time in DISDI  HELP is needed from all of good will! Stop drinking the "Jim Jones DISD' koolaidl

(PS. Given the abuse of Emperor Miles the Mayor needs to call for a march to eradicate educator abuse by the Emperor!)

CC: DISD Board President Lew Blackburn 
     Commissioner John Wiley Price
     Mayor Rawlings

Dallas Observer March 7·13, 2013

Protecting Principals
In last week's paper, Schutze wrote about the  
Im­ppending fight In Dallas lSD, where Superintendent  
Mike Miles plans to purge the dfstrict of underper­forrmlng  
principals. He'll' be met,Schutze wrote, with fierce resistance  
from politicians trying to protect thelr friends- and by the 
growing army of Miles haters.

                                             Is there a patronage system   

(or at least nepo­

tism and cronyism) at work here? Abso­lutely. In the near past, hiring was often based on one's church, family or  sorority con­nections. DISD stopped publishing the obituary section of the DISD internal employee
newsletter because the list of family members of the dear deceased that were employed by DISD was embarrassingly lengthy.
Do we need to improve the quality of the
principals? Absolutely. But how in the world is a principal who is notified in April that they are on a growth plan going to have any chance of improving things at their school by the end of May? This smells like a hit list.
Miles and his administration are champing
at the bit to do something, anything, to show forward motion. Past mistakes - already too many to mention in Miles' six·month superintendent stint- show that his persistent ready, fire, aim" mentality is also at play here. Is fair­ness being sacrificed for speed? Every day that passes without productive change is another day lost to the students, a day they cannot ever get back. 

lf some principals on the growth plan are retained while others are fired, the superinten­dent ought to be able to articulate specifically
why, since he may end up having to do so
in court anyway when all is said and done.

In response to MacNaughton:
I get what you are saying. But the growth plans are a final step in a long process of evaluation Qlld documentation beginning with goals state­ments, revisited with amid-year assessment and several other intermediate steps. Seems like
a heads-up principal would smell the smoke way before seeing the flames.