Dallas ISD issues progress report

MIKE McGEE | 12/7/2014, 8:42 p.m. | Updated on 12/9/2014, 11:53 a.m.
“… But my daddy said if you can’t count they can cheat you. If you can’t read they can beat ...
Dallas ISD trustees meet to discuss campuses in need of improvement. Photo by Mike McGee

The Dallas Examiner

“… But my daddy said if you can’t count they can cheat you. If you can’t read they can beat you.” – Toni Morrison, Beloved.

Dr. Charles Chernosky, director of Federal and State Accountability for the Dallas Independent School District was called upon by the Dallas ISD trustees Nov. 20 at a public hearing to deliver his report on the 43 district campuses that were classified as Improvement Required and the 10 campuses that fell under the Formerly Improvement Required heading.

Each year, campuses with unacceptable performance ratings according to the Texas Education Code and the Administrative Code will be assigned an executive director and a professional service provider, according to Chernosky.

“They will continue to work with the campus until the campus satisfies the standards and they assist the campus in updating plans to actually analyze the areas of growth and needs,” he explained.

It was revealed at the hearing that some of the highlights of the various campus plans intended to improve performance include employing instructional coaches for professional development, grouping students with similar needs and creating intervention plans for those students, and leading effective assessment analysis meetings. Going to greater lengths to further assist first-year teachers will also be part of the plans if the overall plan is accepted by the trustees.

Billy Earl Dade Middle School is one of the campuses with the IR assessment. Bernadette Nutall, whose District 9 area includes Dade, mentioned to the director that she had gotten word about big and unexpected changes coming to the school as part of the educational achievement plan.

“It’s my understanding that the staff received a letter that said they would not have a job at the end of the year because you’ve got to reconstitute the whole staff?” she asked.

“Well, if they did that was by mistake,” Chernosky replied.

Nutall pointed out that reconstituting a school’s staff meant removing the school’s current staff, adding “from the custodians to the cafeteria workers” according to the letter. She asked for clarification that the Dallas ISD would not be reconstituting the staff at Dade.

“No we are not,” stated Chernosky, who then confirmed that the letters would be rescinded.

Other trustees did not think the plan’s overall components went far enough, or would not be effective enough. Trustee Elizabeth Jones of District 1 pointed out that the list of 43 IR campuses amount to around 20 percent of the school district’s student body.

“In DISD we want to make sure that every campus is high-performing, every campus is a quality choice, and every campus is there to serve our children’s needs,” Jones mentioned, stating that there was a pattern to the campuses that continued to land on the IR list every year.

“For a number of these schools they’re getting worse, I mean if you look at the data,” she remarked, to the verbal approval of many in the audience. “They didn’t just start out failing.”

Schools south of the Trinity River that Jones specified included David W. Carter High School and Boude Storey Middle School in Joyce Foreman’s District 6 territory, and Hector P. Garcia Middle School in Eric Cowan’s District 7 territory.