Tag: Dallas Independent School District


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

The Dropout Nation Podcast: Get Rid of Poor-Performing Teachers (and the System that Protects Them)


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

On this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, I discuss how poor-performing teachers damage the educational destinies of students, bring down the morale of their colleagues and foster the nation’s dropout crisis….

Dropout Nation Podcast Cover

On this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, I discuss how poor-performing teachers damage the educational destinies of students, bring down the morale of their colleagues and foster the nation’s dropout crisis. The damage wrecked by ineffective teaching — and the culture of mediocrity they foster — is promoted and sustained by schools of education, collective bargaining agreements, state laws and cultures within districts.

You can listen to the Podcast at RiShawn Biddle’s radio page or download directly to your iPod, MP3 player or smartphone. Also, subscribe to the podcast series. It is also available on iTunes, Blubrry, Podcast Alley, the Education Podcast Network and Zune Marketplace.

3 Comments on The Dropout Nation Podcast: Get Rid of Poor-Performing Teachers (and the System that Protects Them)

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Voices of the Dropout Nation: Bill Betzen on Stemming Dropouts in Dallas


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

As a former social worker-turned-teacher, Bill Betzen understands the importance of dealing with the underlying problems that cause children to drop out. For the past five years, at Quintanilla Middle…

At Quintanilla Middle School, ambitions (and graduation) get protected from the dropout crisis.

As a former social worker-turned-teacher, Bill Betzen understands the importance of dealing with the underlying problems that cause children to drop out. For the past five years, at Quintanilla Middle School in Dallas, he is working with two of the Dallas Independent School District’s high schools on boosting their graduation rates through the School Archive Project. In this brief, he describes how he and his colleagues work to concentrate middle-schoolers on graduating from school and taking control of their own futures.

In the past dropout prevention projects did not look beyond getting a student out of high school and into college. A longer focus into the future, starting in middle school, is increasingly recognized in the educational community as being needed. The planning and success of the Washington University based Freshman Transition Initiative, http://www.freshmantransition.org/, is one verification of the need for our students to plan 10 years into the future. Another is the School Archive Project , http://www.studentmotivation.org, that is now almost 5 years old in Dallas.

The Archive Project only takes two steps: The first step is to know and closely follow current dropout rates so as to monitor progress. Too often official numbers are less than reliable. An annually updated 10+ year enrollment by grade spreadsheet on every school and school district web site, with graduation numbers included, does that. From this spreadsheet a minimum of four separate dropout rate measurements can be calculated showing the current dropout situation in a manner anyone can understand. Auditing enrollment numbers can easily be done. No magical “coding” for “valid transfers” is allowed such as those that allowed the Houston Independent School District to officially claim fantasy dropout rates in the previous decade.

The second step is to bolt a 500-pound gun vault to the floor in every secondary school lobby to function as a 10-year time-capsule. This can happen both at the middle school and high school level. Each new class writes letters to themselves for the vault as they enter the school. They write about their life history and plans for the future. Their parents are invited to also write a letter to their child to place in the same self-addressed envelope with their child’s letter. Then, as the years pass at the school and they walk past the vault every day they know that their letter is already with the thousands of others inside the vault. Hopefully they will think more often of their futures.

As they are about to graduate from that school, students receive back that initial self addressed envelope and use it to another letter to themselves with a clearer focus  ten years into their future. Parents are again invited to write a letter to their child, this time with a 10 year focus in their dreams for their child. The student places the new letters inside another self-addressed envelope and then into the vault. They plan for the ten-year class reunion to retrieve it at which they know they will be invited to speak to then current students in the school about their recommendations for success. They are warned to prepare for questions from those decade younger students such as: “What would you do differently if you were 13 again?”

The first School Archive Project started in 2005 in a Dallas middle school with an 8th grade class that was the Graduation Class of 2009. Both high schools who received these students had the largest graduation class ever with their Class of 2009. This has effects on the entire Dallas school district as well. Thanks to the gains at these two districts, 11th- and  12th-grade enrollments in Dallas are the highest  on record. Enrollment has increased five percent since the 2005-2006 school year for a total increase of 758 students in these upper grades — even as overall enrollment declined by 2.5-percent during the same time.

Realistically focusing students onto their own futures makes a big difference. Best of all, this simple project costs less than $2 per 8th grade student to run. It also reinforces what teachers are already saying to their students: Plan for the future.

One of the Archive Project’s two high schools, Sunset High, was one of the original Dropout Factories in the original study involving 12th grade enrollment data from 2004-2006. It is no longer a “Dropout Factory” today. As more students in the School Archive Project enters it school, its promoting power has increased, from 38.7 percent in 2005-2006 to 64 percent for 2009-2010.

This summer Sunset saw the value of the Archive Project and started it’s own Archive Project at the high school level. The other middle school feeding into Sunset has also started an Archive Project. Now all students entering Sunset High School will have been involved in the Archive Project in middle school, and the future focus will be reinforced at Sunset with its own 500-pound time-capsule vault present that students will walk past several times each day. The Sunset promotion rate will continue to rise, now even faster than it has these last 4 years.

For other dropout factories, a project such as this can mean higher graduation numbers. For students, it also means graduation — and a more-intensified focus on their own futures.  Everybody wins!

————–

Want to offer your voice on what is happening in the dropout nation? Working on solutions to improve the lives of children? E-mail your thoughts to editor-at-dropoutnation.net. Dropout Nation holds the right to edit for space and accuracy.

[Oh yeah, the pesky disclaimer (as if you didn’t already know): All Voices are solely opinions of the author, not of Dropout Nation, RiShawn Biddle or the RiShawn Biddle Consultancy. ]

1 Comment on Voices of the Dropout Nation: Bill Betzen on Stemming Dropouts in Dallas

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Read: Failing to Lead Department


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

What’s happening today in the dropout nation: The Dallas Morning News takes a look at the school district’s dropout factories — many of which are home to largely black and…

Helpling with homework and attending the PTA is no longer the only part parents must play in their children's academic lives. They must also help in shaping their curricula -- and must have the tools and support to do so. (Photo courtesy of needsfoundation.org)

What’s happening today in the dropout nation:

  1. The Dallas Morning News takes a look at the school district’s dropout factories — many of which are home to largely black and Latino students — and dissects why turning around their performance is so difficult. One reason that can easily be mentioned: The lack of community leadership, especially from black and Latino leaders. EducationNews’ Jimmy Kilpatrick (hat tip to him) rightly asks this question of the city’s (and the nation’s) black political leaders (and it goes for Latino and white leaders as well): “Where is the… outrage?
  2. Speaking of the lack of leadership on school reform among the nation’s black politicians, Jennifer Medina profiles New York State Sen.  Bill Perkins, who has proven to be the biggest foe against the expansion (and existence) of charter schools in Empire Land. Sadly, he ignores the benefits charters are bringing to students who live in his Harlem-centered district. Lovely. As Harlem Children’s Zone boss Geoffrey Canada points out, Perkins’ problem seems to be that most of the operators of charters are from outside the community. Well, Mr. Perkins, how about demanding more from the black leaders and middle class residents in your own community instead of piling on people who are willing to help children who aren’t their own by birth. Really. When you ask that question and demand more, then come back with your criticisms. Or as Twitter participant Clifton Whitley writes: “why doesn’t he protest failing public schools?”
  3. Another area in which “leaders” are failing to take the lead: Saving the urban private and parochial schools — including Catholic schools — that have served many a poor urban child well over the past few decades. I look further at the need for school reformers — especially centrist Democrats — to embrace vouchers alongside charter schools in order to expand choice and high quality instruction for the poorest children in my latest report for The American Spectator. Also, check out my report from December about the efforts by the Archdiocese of Washington to maintain its mission of educating poor and middle class families, Catholic and (more often) non-Catholic alike.
  4. Michael Shaughnessy interviews Rick Hess about the fostering “greenfield” approaches to education reform that move away from traditional school district systems and the underlying infrastructure (teachers unions, best practices) that come with it. Interesting read.
  5. The Journal: Technological Horizons in Education reviews the Obama administration’s plans for the use of technology in education.We know what Tom Vander Ark thinks. I’m still thinking this through: The report is correct in arguing that American public education is in need of an overhaul to fit the needs of the 21st century. I’m all for expanded use of technology in schools in innovative ways, but I also think that technology is no more a lone silver bullet that charters, vouchers or shutting down poor performing schools. Ultimately, it comes down to great teaching and active engagement of children in learning. What are your thoughts?
  6. In Kentucky, the state lower house passed a bill that would require students to stay in school until age 18. This is all well and good. Perhaps the legislature will also get around to passing a law allowing for the authorization of charter schools, which could help improve the quality of education for students.
  7. Off the beaten track: Math can be found in interesting places. Even in one of my five all-time favorite books (along with Anne of Windy Poplars, Parliament of Whores, A Tale of a Tub, and Homicide: Life in the Killing Streets), Alice in Wonderland, according to the New York Times.

Check out the Dropout Nation Podcast this evening; it will be on the next steps President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan should take with Race to the Top and school reform. Also, read the report this week on the alarming dropout and lack of on-track graduation among male students in Chicago’s public schools (and elsewhere).

And now, for your Sunday pleasure, one of my favorite songs, Come Fly With Me in live form by Sinatra himself:


Comments Off on Read: Failing to Lead Department

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

The Read


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

All there is to know in the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day (updates and new stories are *): No standard left behind: As large a role poor instruction plays…

These kids need to be back in school, not in truancy court. So let's help keep them there.

These kids need to be back in school, not in truancy court. So let's help keep them there.

All there is to know in the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day (updates and new stories are *):

  • No standard left behind: As large a role poor instruction plays in fueling the dropout crisis and the nation’s overall crisis of low academic achievement, another can be found in efforts by many school districts to essentially water down academic standards set at the state and federal levels. From social promotion of laggard students (when they should be left back and given different teachers and instructional settings that fit their learning styles) to grade inflation, school districts engage in the kind of, well, let’s call it fraud that would lead to prison sentences if it were consider criminal offenses. Essentially, the districts are arguing that they are improving academic performance when all they are really doing is providing children with a slipshod education. So the report by the Dallas Morning News that teachers are annoyed at such an attempt by officials in the city’s Independent School District is both wonderful and disheartening to hear. The former, because teachers are being serious about their job. The latter? Because the district is up to the old nasty tricks again.
  • When math teachers aren’t being well-instructed to teach math: The National Council on Teacher Quality released a study earlier this year on the woefully inadequate math instruction training by almost all of the 77 schools of education it surveyed. Now George Leef of the Pope Center offers some pointers on how math instruction must be reformed in order to improve the poor math performance of America’s students.
  • Speaking of math (and immigration and teachers and H-1B): At Free Trade Nation, your editor analyzes one immigration skeptic’s criticism of the “H-1B Education” piece that ran earlier this week in The American Spectator.
  • Teacher pay reform on sight: Kevin Carey gives a full report on the battle between new D.C. schools chief, Michelle Rhee, and the lackluster district’s teachers union over a teacher pay reform plan. Rhee may actually be winning over the younger (and more performance-oriented) teachers. But, while Carey is more optimistic about the results, I would argue that being the head of a school district within the nation’s capital — with a bevy of Democrat congressmen and senators who collect donations from the two major teachers unions – is no easy task; succeeding in winning salary reform may lead to a Congressional edict that will end the plan altogether.
  • Speaking of Carey: Alexander Russo takes a shot at him for arguing with the Broader, Bolder gang. Although I understand Russo’s complaint that so many ed policy types aren’t as willing to engage in the dirty work of reforming schools in order to improve the education of poor kids, I would argue that the fact that Broader, Bolder includes the ones who do doesn’t mean that they are on the right side.  The latter, after all, is arguing for letting schools off the hook for their rather sizeable role in perpetuating the nation’s dropout crisis.

Comments Off on The Read

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search