New Dallas ISD Grading Policy: This Whole Thing Has Been a Matter of Miscommunication

On Friday afternoon, I called Dallas ISD spokesman Jon Dahlander to get him to explain this new grading policy, which was starting to make my head spin. Dahlander said he needed some time to familiarize himself with the new policy, a draft copy of which had been published. He said he’d get back to me (which I knew he would). So I told myself to reserve judgment until I heard the full story. Then, Saturday, Superintendent Michael Hinojoso seemed to defend what appeared to me indefensible. Still, I waited. But Sunday brought J-Floyd’s column, and I just couldn’t hold my fingers any longer. I twisted off.

I should have waited one more day. Because I just got off the phone with Dahlander, who did a lot to clarify this situation in my mind. The draft version of the policy was passed to the DMN before it was ready for public dissemination. The district offices were closed Friday, so clarification didn’t come as quickly as it should have. Below, you’ll learn the truth. In short, though, this entire thing has been overblown.

Misinformation: Students can’t be given grades below 50. The facts: A 50 is the lowest grade on the report card. This does not apply to classwork or homework. A kid can still get a 0 on a homework assignment.

Misinformation: Students can retake any test they fail anytime. The facts: Students at every level must be given one opportunity to retake any major test (as defined by grade level or department teachers) within five school days the failing grade was received or no later than 10 days of the date of the test.

Misinformation: Homework grades should be given only when the grades will “raise a student’s average, not lower it.” The facts: This is true, but only at grades 2 through 5. At grades 6 through 12, homework grades can be recorded at teacher discretion as previously practiced.

Misinformation: Students cannot receive a 0 or grade penalty for work not done or not completed on time. The facts: A committee of teachers on each campus determines the policy at that campus. As campus instructional leaders, principals have the authority to approve the teacher-developed procedures. So, in other words, yes, students can get a O.

Misinformation: Parents must be called before recording a 0 in the grade book. The facts: True, but, again, only in grades 2 through 5. Teachers in grades 6 through 12 are encouraged to contact parents if a 0 would result in a failing six-weeks grade for a student, but are not required to do so.

Is everyone on the same page, now? Students still have to do their homework. If they do it poorly or not on time, they can still be given a bad grade. And if they flunk a major test, they can take another shot at it within a reasonable amount of time.

The sad thing about this whole mess is that the DMN won’t run a front-page clarification story. The damage to the district’s reputation has been done. People will continue to run around telling each other that they’re moving to Plano because they wouldn’t dare put their kid in Dallas ISD, where the teachers can’t give bad grades and the students don’t have to do homework.

Newsletter

Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Restaurants

Restaurants

Bars

Bars

Events

Events

Attractions

Attractions

View All

View All

Comments

61 responses to “New Dallas ISD Grading Policy: This Whole Thing Has Been a Matter of Miscommunication”

  1. Chris says:

    Still not putting my kids in DISD. I am sick of the “the district is getting better! I promise!”

  2. jrp says:

    the DMN may not run a big above-the-fold clarification in the print edition, but would be well served to clarify some things on their Web sites/blogs

    we’ll see, as i think Mr. Dahlander did assuage some issues there

    thanks, Tim

  3. Tim Rogers says:

    @ Chris: We just learned that the 26 schools in the Dallas ISD will be rated exemplary, and 76 will be named as recognized. These are all-time highs for the district. It is, in fact, getting better.

    Not that private school, if you can afford it, is necessarily a bad option. Good luck.

  4. Don says:

    Great job, Tim. That does provide some much needed information.

    My concern is the leadership of the secondary schools who may use poetic license when approving instructional practices and grades.

  5. East Dallas Eccentric says:

    Thank you Tim.

    The torrent of unleashed hatred on this blog and others should be enough evidence that those intractably biased against DISD refuse to accept any contrary information.

    What motivates all the hatred? When Dallas has many great schools yet they are still vehemently disparaged by those in the white-flight roosts, it’s obvious.

  6. Amy Hunt says:

    So why didn’t DISD say this in the first place? They’re so busy circling the wagons and whining about how the DMN is out to get them that they never actually say to themselves “hey, maybe we need to get out in front of this and talk to the parents.”

    I’m not saying DISD doesn’t have problems, but so much of what’s wrong on Ross Ave. could be fixed with BETTER COMMUNICATION!

    Every month or so, I get an e-mail from the district telling me the dullest, most bureaucratic news possible. How hard would it have been for them to send everybody on their e-mail list an e-mail titled “so, here’s the full story,” and tell us what Dahlander told Tim Rogers?

    Now all they’ve got is a bunch of ticked-off parents.

    Sheesh!

  7. Andrew says:

    It’s still ridiculous. The conscientious student is still punished by the re-testing policy as the slacker will be able to retake the test after asking everybody what exactly was on it and score higher than somebody who passed it the first go around. And teachers who fail too many students are still scrutinized, inevitably motivating teachers to pass along students and therefore to avoid the hassle.

  8. Tim Rogers says:

    @ East Dallas Eccentric: I don’t think it is hatred. One of the most fraught decisions a parent faces is where to put his kids during the day, while he (or she) is at work. For us, it started with daycare. But it’s just as fantod-inducing in junior high, etc.

    It’s human nature. A parent who moves to the burbs to escape DISD wants to hear bad news about the district because it justifies his actions. It’s the same reason I like to hear about gas prices going up (anything to mention the Prius, right?). It’s not hatred; it’s gloating.

    “See? I toldya so! I knew I did the right thing for my kid.”

    More like that, it seems to me.

    @ Amy Hunt: The district couldn’t get out in front of this, because this didn’t start with central administration. The draft of the grading policy was the work of a group of teachers, principals, and members of the Alliance AFT, as I understand it.

  9. Tom says:

    I agree with Amy on the DISD timing. Another example of the 24-hour news cycle at work. You can’t bury something on a Friday afternoon and expect it to be ignored for 48 hours. Just ask John Edwards and ABC News. DISD should have made a spokesperson available on Friday and over the weekend to provide the information Tim just posted.

  10. JW says:

    I don’t think it’s necessarily hatred directed towards DISD. I think it’s this: I rarely see positive DISD news, Belo or otherwise (The exemplary and recognized post above notwithstanding.) It’s generally bad news. If I were to send my daughter (still far too young) to a DISD public school, where would she go? Both the middle school and high school she’d likely attend have been featured numerous times for an ongoing cheese problem and various other negative blasts.

    I want my kid to be challenged and smart and I want her to become President.

    I’m afraid that DISD is poorly managed and struggles to deal with basic issues. And I’m scared that they cater to the lowest common denominator. I don’t think it’s a white flight thing. DISD gets enough bad publicity, (and not enough good) that at least some of it has to be true. To be fair, maybe the ‘burbs just do a better job of not publicizing their issues.

  11. B says:

    Even with the misinformation, we were told that this new policy would streamline things… make a uniform policy. I still see a lot of individual teacher/campus discretion. How does that create a uniform policy?

    How about creating a uniform policy AND raising the bar on school performance? If you give kids a goal to meet, they will rise to it… or sink to it… as the case may be. While the news isn’t as bad as initially reported, it’s still not a good policy as it allows kids to sink and still pass. Make excellence, not mediocrity, the standard.

  12. You blogged: “The sad thing about this whole mess is that the DMN won’t run a front-page clarification story.”

    Why should we? Nothing Dahlander said contradicts anything we wrote. In fact, much of his clarifications are disputed by readily available public records, which you can read for yourself on our website, if you choose.

    Misinformation: Students can’t be given grades below 50.
    What the DMN reported: “Last school year, Dallas’ board of trustees reaffirmed a policy that prevented teachers from giving students a grade lower than a 50 in any one grading period.” Looks like we nailed that one.

    Misinformation: Students can retake any test they fail anytime.
    What the DMN reported: “Students who flunk tests can retake the exam and keep the higher grade.” Yup, we got that one right too.

    Misinformation: Homework grades should be given only when the grades will “raise a student’s average, not lower it.”
    What the DMN reported: “Homework grades that would drag down a student’s overall average will be thrown out.” A letter to parents of high school students (posted for all to read for themselves on our blog) states that a teacher’s “primary consideration” in grading homework should be “raising a student’s average.” If Dahlander is right, then the letter to parents is wrong. Wonder which one it is?

    Misinformation: Students cannot receive a 0 or grade penalty for work not done or not completed on time.
    What the DMN reported: “Teachers must accept overdue assignments, and their principal will decide whether students are to be penalized for missing deadlines.” Looks like we got that one right, too.

    Misinformation: Parents must be called before recording a 0 in the grade book.
    What the DMN reported: “Teachers cannot give a zero on an assignment unless they call parents and make “efforts to assist students in completing the work.” Why that’s true: Letters and principal training materials state: “Students I grades 9-12 can receive a zero … only after a parent is called or notified and efforts made to assist students in completing the work.” Did Tim ask Dahlander to explain the contradiction between his statement and the public record?

    So, that’s five bits of “misinformation” Tim that aren’t wrong at all. Of course, only a wee bit of reporting on Tim’s end before he talked to Dahlander would have enabled him to see through the spin.

  13. PR says:

    I think the DISD released this on a Friday, during the summer, in the middle of the Olympics, because they wanted to some quick feedback from the public while at the same guaranteeing that MOST people would be too busy over the weekend to really notice. Then, if the response was not too bad, then they would stick with the proposed plan. If the response was too negative, then well, hey, um, it was all a misunderstanding.

  14. jamesn says:

    Tim, have you read the memo that was leaked to the DMN (its here: http://dallasisdblog.dallasnews.com/New%20Grading%20Rules.pdf) It directly contradicts several statements made here. Let’s take a quick look, shall we?

    1. The claim that the policy wasn’t ready for the public: The memo is addressed to “Dear Parents/Gardians;” the memo’s author, DISD Chief Academic Officer Denise Collier, seems to have intended it’s content for the pubic.
    2. The claim that the “raising the adverage” homework policy only applies to grades 2-5: The memo explicitly only covers grades 9th-12th (it’s bolded and underlined) and one of it’s bullet points is, “Homework may or may or may not be awarded a grade at the teacher’s discretion but primary consideration is given to raising a student’s average.”
    3. The claim that students can in fact receive a 0 without calling the parent first: Again, the memo only covers procedures for grades 9-12. One of the memo’s bullet points is, “Students in grades 9-12 can receive a zero and recorded in the grade book only after a parent is called or notified and efforts made to assist students in completing work”

    And those are just the direct contradictions. There’s no trace of the 5-10 day re-take window for tests at all; that looks like a “new” fact.

    Why do I feel like you’ve been lied to, or at least spun into submission?

  15. Wow, when did our world become so warped that these grading policies are acceptable? How about a policy of “do the work and make a good grade or don’t do the work make a bad grade”? What is it with the world today that everyone gets a chance to hit the “reset” button on tests and “homework” only counts if it improves your grade? This is type of policy that makes DISD is a joke.

  16. Trey Garrison says:

    Smells like weekend criss control spin.

  17. Billusa99 says:

    Am I ever glad we live in the RISD part of Dallas.

    Shouldn’t Kent have, like, gotten J-Flo to write his retort, dude?

  18. Towski says:

    I seem to have encountered a snark imbalance.

  19. bleacherbum says:

    Apparently Tim’s idea of reporting is to call a flak and swallow everything the flak says. Good thing we have some real reporters in this town.

  20. East Dallas Eccentric says:

    I don’t know Tim, when people start saying that they will refuse to hire DISD graduates, etc.

    It feels like hatred to me because I am proud of my schools and I see kids going there now who are just as proud – they are learning and doing great things yet they cannot get a break because others are so busy ‘gloating’. These are kids, not a car!

  21. Trey Garrison says:

    Why do I get this mental image of the Iraqi information minister circa 2003, or maybe Nathan Thurm?

  22. Dallasite says:

    East Dallas Eccentric, you should really think before you post. Genuine concern should not be mistaken for “hatred”. We just want to see actual improvement at DISD, instead of the typical lowering of standards.

  23. Good Point says:

    Dude, it looks like they really suckered you in! Their PR guy puts a little lipstick on that pig and you’re happy as a DISD student.

  24. strother martin says:

    What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate.

  25. chumped again says:

    Yikes. It sucks to be corrected spanked by the DMN. Your blogging was not very sparky.

  26. East Dallas Eccentric says:

    Dallasite maybe you should do a little ‘thinking’ by visiting a few of the stellar campuses in DISD. I would be glad to be your tour guide.

    I’m not happy about everything 3700 Ross does by any means.

    Constructive criticism is welcomed but it appears that most doing the dissing have never seen the interior of a Dallas school.

  27. jrp says:

    i’d say it is miscommunication by the DISD, and to a lesser, but no less important, extent the DMN but it is not misinformation on anyone’s part

    but what do i know?

    still can’t figure out how someone scores a zero aside from not being present or not turning in the work. do that many kids routinely get zeros?

  28. Trey Garrison says:

    How flattering is it to learn that 26 schools in the Dallas ISD will be rated exemplary and 76 will be named as recognized when to accomplish these feats standards were lowered?

    What other underhanded legerdemain was employed that we don’t know about?

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/062908dnmetratingloopholes.436a052.html

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/local/stories/DN-dropouts_23tex.ART.State.Edition2.4d5acb4.html

    (Hat tip, Dallasite)

    I’m sorry, but crowing about what happens after the bar is lowered doesn’t seem to solve the problems. It just sweeps them under the rug.

  29. Louisa Meyer, Dallas ISD parent since 1993 says:

    Trey,

    Research based journalists would take time to read the TEA accountability manual from 1994 and compare it to 2008 to determine how standards have changed. Reading the years successively would be helpful too.

    They’d track how “hurdles” or sub-groups have treated heterogeneous and homogeneous campuses differently plus consider the simple mathematical calculations that demonstrate how one child who failed at a heterogeneous campus could lower a school’s rating but if at a homogenous campus would not.

    They’d also consider the varied campus grade configurations in relation to tests given at each grade and the impact on ratings.

    Further research would reveal the impact of NCLB and AYP to name a few.

    I considered providing the data for you, but I’m not the journalist and am growing tired of responding to entertainment writers.

    As for Holly Hacker’s writing, it was predictably incomplete. The only time DMN has done a decent job of fairly describing the state’s rating system was when one of its reporter’s neighborhood school lost its precious rating. The one time article was also an opportunity to realize the benefit of assigning reporters with a vested interested in telling the full story.

    IJS

    p.s. If you slam me again with that Kool-aid comment, duck.

  30. jody says:

    So in other words, Dohlander says the assignment wasn’t ready to turn in?

    Sounds less like a clarification than crawfishing.

  31. bleacherbum says:

    Hey Koolie..er, Louisa, I think it was somebody by the name of Kent who wrote the DMN article, not Holly. I mean, since this blog concerns homework, I think you should have done some before you wrote your comment.

  32. Bethany says:

    Is it entirely possible that DISD needs to work on some things, but it’s not the educational black hole people would like to make it out to be?

    I think saying someone is drinking the Kool-Aid because they want to work to make their schools better, and have made efforts to learn as much as possible about what is going on in their district, is rather insulting.

    I mean, can you recite statistics about your district? Have you made a point of perusing the TEA Web site to learn about various changes?

    I’m not saying I have, btw. I’m just saying that I find it unbelievably smug and insulting to throw that phrase around in connection with someone who has actually done her homework.

  33. Bethany says:

    And bleacherbum, Louisa, I believe, is referring to the link in Trey’s post, not the story on the grading policy.

    A couple of clicks, yanno?

  34. bleacherbum says:

    Louisa is accusing others of not doing their homework, when it’s clear that they have done their homework and more. She may not agree with their findings, but I think she’s the one who’s insulting others. she’s not the only one looking into the DISD, and yet she claims she has all the answers. It has nothing to do with how someone feels about DISD. I happen to be a strong supporter of the DISD. I just get tired of the “holier than thou” piety on this blogs by know-it-alls like Louisa, who think they have all the answers and nobody else does.

  35. Trey Garrison says:

    Bethany, to paraphrase a great American veteran, Louisa drew first Kool-aid.

    http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/2008/08/13/the-future-of-suburbia-a-freakonomics-forum/#comments

  36. On these two issues:

    Misinformation: Students can retake any test they fail anytime. The facts: Students at every level must be given one opportunity to retake any major test (as defined by grade level or department teachers) within five school days the failing grade was received or no later than 10 days of the date of the test.

    Misinformation: Homework grades should be given only when the grades will “raise a student’s average, not lower it.” The facts: This is true, but only at grades 2 through 5.

    I’m just one consumer talking here. Maybe I’m going too tough on this issue, but I’m against these retests. I’m also against the homework grade piece. Either homework is part of the grade, or it isn’t. It shouldn’t be based on grade level.

  37. Trey Garrison says:

    So the Kool-aid man is a pitcher, but he carries a pitcher? Is it, like, his kid? Or is it some horrifying fate the Kool-aid people reserve for misshapen or runt Kool-aid children?

    And if your body is a big glass pitcher, is it really wise to make your signature entrance the act of busting through fences and brick walls?

    This whole issue bears deeper examination.

  38. bleacherbum says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the fence-busting entrance was pretty…Kool.

  39. Blogjacker says:

    Well, since we’re changing the subject, does anyone know where I can find a Bela Karolyi costume for Halloween? And would someone volunteer to dress like Carrie Strug and let me carry you and your broken ankle?

  40. Bill Marvel says:

    Draft policies are “published” for one reason and one reason only: to test the waters. DISD on Friday tested the waters and found them boiling hot. By Monday, they had back-pedaled, hoping the waters would cool. And you, Tim, got taken in. Why do you suppose Dahlander took so long to get back to you? His “clarifications,” when they came, contradicted nothing already reported by the News. Spun it, perhaps.
    The essential point remains: The policy is finely calculated to pass as many students as possible, not to ensure those students are learning the skills, disciplines, and facts that public schools were created to teach.
    For those who imagine these and other comments have been posted by people who “hate” DISD, be aware that there is nothing those of us who have been critical of the district would love to see more than a system that truly educates, that places education of students ahead of every other consideration. Alas, that has not been true as long as I’ve lived in Dallas, and I’ve been here more than three decades. And both my children passed through the system.

  41. Tim Rogers says:

    @ Bill Marvel: Dahlander took that long to get back to me because he was moving his family into a new house over the weekend. There’s no conspiracy here.

  42. Louisa Meyer, Dallas ISD parent since 1993 says:

    Say, Trey, you’ve giving me some ideas for a blog handle.
    Ouch, bleacherbum. I’ve been thinking of returning to yoga – ohmmmmmmm.
    Bethany, Thanks for the support.

  43. Towski says:

    Ooooooooohhhhh Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh!

  44. What are you arguing about here? Is it who got the facts right or wrong; if Jon was moving this weekend; or to what name Louisa Meyer might change her handle?

    Could all of this been handled better? Surely. Was it? No, for several reasons.

    But it’s time now to pick up the pieces of this plan and see what of it is going to work for the boys and girls of DISD. Little else matters. It’s all about the kids. Perhaps a meeting with all interested parties at DISD where Hinojosa and Collier walk everyone who wants to know should be called. It’s late for that, but it might be the best medicine.

  45. give me a break says:

    If DISD is doing so well, why do they have to implement these rules? Shouldn’t they be telling kids that working hard leads to success, not babying them. I can’t understand why this generation of kids is so self-consumed and lazy. Maybe because we are too scared to tell them no.

  46. Diane Birdwell says:

    Tim-

    “Draft” is in the eye of the beholder.

    The stuff leaked to the media was intended to be used. Principals had been given this information over 10 days ago, because they trained their Campus Improvement Leadership Teams (CILT) on it then. Get that? TRAINED. It was already FINALIZED. You don’t train with “draft.”

    Based on what I heard back from several campuses (high schools), they were furious! They felt that an entire summer had been wasted, because nobody had warned them of changes. Despite the joke/myth about teachers having the summer completely off, we could have been given a “head’s up” by staff development while we were in mandatory training.

    It is interesting to note that Dahlender was not familiar with the polciy change. Funny, two board trustees I spoke with that week–on Tuesday, to be exact, also did not know about it. (The day I knew about it as well.)So “miscommunication” seems to be a horizontal problem in Dallas ISD, not just a vertical one.

    Oh, and Tim, if you ever want to use basic journalistic practices, such as getting BOTH sides to a story, feel free to call NEA-Dallas at 214 821-2061. We will be glad to tell you how anything in Dallas ISD will impact the students, teachers (like me), drivers or staff.

    Diane Birdwell, classroom teacher
    Executive Vice-President
    NEA-Dallas

    However, enough pressure from people all across Dallas stopped this.

    Now, if Dallasites would pay that much attention EVERY time they try to change policies teachers warn the public about, then maybe something better would happen around here.

  47. JNJ says:

    Tim,

    Dahlander took that long to get back to you because he didn’t know a DAMN thing about it! Wouldn’t you stop long enough to wonder why the district spokeperson was completely in the dark? Those of us who have long questioned the need for spending taxpayer funds on that position can now show you why Dahlander is kept around.

    It’s all about the SPIN baby !

  48. Louisa Meyer, Dallas ISD parent since 1993 says:

    Let’s set the policy aside for the moment.

    The district said, “These procedures were developed as directed by Board policy by a committee of teachers, principals, and instructional support staff. Teachers were recommended by learning community executive directors, volunteered, or were nominated by the Coordinating Teacher Organization (CTO). The Board approved a new grading policy in March 2008, and the committee began its work in May after TAKS testing was completed. The work continued over the summer in preparation for Fall 2008 teacher training and implementation.”

    A Google of Diane Birdwell reveals she’s a high school history teacher.

    The lesson here is, when you don’t get your way, call the media and damn the representative process.

    Every issue deserves due process afforded by the representative system including an appeal component – from textbook adoption to teacher termination.

  49. Ray says:

    Louisa Meyer–

    I don’t get the logic you are making with Diane and the implementation of this policy. If it’s about NEA not being let in on this whole thing or letting them pick people, I think you’re way off base here.

    I don’t belong to NEA and I couldn’t care less which group picked or who was on this committee.

    The big issue we’re all concerned about, setting the policy aside, is that it was just going to be sprung on us come the week of August 18.

    A whole summer of staff developments could have been used to get a read on what teachers were thinking about it or even let the presenters know it was in the works. I gave a workshop twice over the summer that I would have jumped at the chance to show teachers how they could have used the new grading policy with what I was teaching.

    Now, assuming it’ll be still in place come the end of September and/or November, I’ll be on board and showing teachers what they can do with what I talk about to get it done.

    The whole thing boils down to a couple of issues. First, had the DMN not “leaked” this information 99% of the teachers would not have found out about the policy until a week before kids showed up for school. Just look how parents reacted when “surprises” such as magnet programs moving to Conrad and Spruce being well “Spruced.” There was outrage and rightly so.

    But when teachers show outrage towards a policy that’s dodgy at best, we’re compared to a tattletale or temper tantrum throwing three year old. Had the policy said something like 99% of all your kids’ grades are going to be TAKS worksheets, you’d throw a fit. Double standards are so 1990s.

    The other issue is that teachers just didn’t have any input in this process. And I would almost fathom a guess that most campus administrators had never heard of such a change until they got the August 7th email.

    Sure, DISD can state teachers were on this committee and be telling the truth. But 1-2 (or even 10) teachers doesn’t constitute teacher input on a district this large. The keynote speaker said something like we have 20,000 teachers (it’s probably less), so how many of those got to provide their input on something they’ll be expected to implement?

    It’s like me trying to convince people that “teachers had input” when writing the course curriculum for some random course like World History and you finding out it was two first year teachers who just happened to be in the office when the call came in to get something done before the new school year started.

  50. Louisa Meyer, Dallas ISD parent since 1993 says:

    When a student has a grievance with you, would you prefer they respect the procedures in place, that afford you due process, or would you understand that, since the timing was bad, they could expedite their grievance by calling a reporter?

  51. Louisa Meyer, Dallas ISD parent since 1993 says:

    In a traditional corporate setting, Birdwell’s actions would be considered insubordination. In preparing our students to be college and workforce ready, let’s remember, not all of them will have union protections.

  52. Student says:

    So some support DISDs new policies. Ask universities and hear what they think of it and the students applying to their school. I would say that getting accepted to a good college is more important than these “Become a Better School” schemes (Since the DISD leader wants DISD to become the #1 district by 2010) which only provides the college recruiters with a good laugh.

  53. Allen Gwinn says:

    Kent Fischer posted a link to an email sent August 7 in which the original policies/regulations were deemed “finalized.”

    So it may not necessarily be a case of “what” the District says as to “when” it is said.

    You know, I wonder why Denise Collier didn’t just simply say: “hey, we’re human, we messed up–here are the corrections” and be done with it?

    Here’s the link: http://dallasisdblog.dallasnews.com/Grade%20changing%20finalized.pdf

  54. Diane Birdwell says:

    Louisa-

    Did you ever pay attention to the Dallas ISD “since 1993”?

    Students SUE teachers, threaten to sue teachers and schools ALL the time! They will bypass the “chain of command” to have Momma call the Superintnendent’s office to say that a teacher was “mean to them.” Heck, they threaten to sue to get to walk across the stage, even if they didn’t pass TAKS! (And I am not even mentioning the number of physical assaults on teachers every year.)

    And you bet your behind I am mad. Google me? You had to google me? Heck, just read the DMN blog, as I am on there every other day. Why not check me out on Youtube, too, so you can see what I do with kids in my classes? Go ahead. Do it. Check out the skills I am teaching in world history.

    And no, teachers were NOT represented fairly, as per policy of utilizing the CTO. Sounds like you have no idea what that is.

    It was created around 1999–when you apparently had a kid in the district–to limit access to the admin staff. We had–still have–three unions in Dallas ISD. Hear that? THREE. The CTO was meant to consolidate all three, and we could only have “one voice” when going before the board, etc…

    IT NEVER WORKED. Alliance-AFT won the popularity contest to be the CTO lead, and they have used to to try to shut out the other two unions in their attempt to be the sole union voice in Dallas. Makes sense, you when you realize they are a part of the AFL-CIO, and they have a history of not playing nice with other groups.

    In fact, they (AFT) donate money to the political campaigns of sitting board trustees, for what, just the “hope” that the that the CTO stays just as it is. Well, I was born at night, but not last night.

    So, Dr Collier asked the CTO head, AIMEE BOLENDER, for a list of names to sit on this committee. She NEVER contacted NEA to be on it, as the CTO policy says she should. (Dr. Collier now knows of this weakness, and it shouldn’t happen again, God love her.)

    So, I was as shocked, as were the other teachers about this. She had FOUR people on the committee! Oh, and one was so mad about it, he basically wanted to disassociate from it. But did the others? Apparently, not. Did they try to call them out in public on the changes? Nope. Did they warn us it was pretty much a “done deal,” the way most things are done nowadays in Dallas ISD? Nope.

    As usual, they let the Dallas ISD have their way, without so much as a peep. (So, for RAY, yea, it IS important who represents you. Silence is consent in my book of life.)

    As for the charge of insubordination, you haven’t got a clue. In the corporate world, of which I have been a part of, thank you very much, the way we PROFESSIONALS are treated would not last long. We are treated with disdain. We are treated as insignificant, even though we are the ones who teach, not the admin team.

    In fact, pilots have unions. Football players have unions. Actors have a guild. Doctors have associations, so do vets, dentists and even lawyers (the American Bar Association). Yep, they DO get lawyers to represent them in termination cases and in some negotiations. So, in the corporate world, you CAN be protected.

    So, in “preparing students for college and workforce ready,” the policy changes originally proposed would have gutted them of learning personal responsibility. It would have taught them that nobody cares when you do something or how you do it, chances to do it again abound like water in a spring.

    You see, and this is the point that you missed, we were first upset over the effect this would have on teaching kids personal skills, and on the effect on their effort and work product. Secondly, it was unbearably burdensome to someone like me, a teacher who teaches about 130 students in a semester. (My personal max was 197 four years ago.) I would have had to make over 100 calls per week—on my own time.

    Now, when people read what I blog, they are shocked that a teacher (gasp!) would dare to speak out. What, we have no civil rights? Oh my God, teachers are not all wimps, especially someone like me who was also an Army Captain. I don’t like bullies, and what I see as a union rep borders on bullying every year. It would disgust you to know how some of the most humble or “innocent of charges” teachers are treated.

    So, I learned to embrace the blogosphere, as have you and hundreds of others in Dallas ISD. This is one place where they can’t muzzle us.I am not wanting a confrontation. On the contrary, most of my union work is spent to reduce problems, tensions and upsets. I work well with most of the ones at 3700, because although I tick them off, they know I love our students and I stand up for the rights of my peers.

    Well, anyway, the event is done. We got some pull back on the policy, and the kids will benefit from it. Another year begins…

  55. avacenna says:

    Can you imagine the publicity the suburban schools would get for their faux pas, if they spent every day under the microscope of the Dallas Morning News? But Irving and Plano and Garland don’t have a “Plano Morning News”. Well, there are exceptions, I guess … the DMN staff did take an interest in the naughty cheerleaders up in McKinney.

  56. Ronald Gross says:

    I have one kid that graduated with honors at a well respected DISD high school (attending A&M on full scholarships) and a daughter that is in her junior year at the same school and is doing better than her brother did. I work in computer support for an adjacent school district and have successfully defended DISD for almost a decade from attacks by the suburban snobs. These kids are some of the multiethnic group of kids that have brought honor to DISD by periodically whipping the intellectual cans of school districts like Highland Park, Plano, Mesquite, Richardson etc. and fancy private schools like St. Marks, Hockaday and Greenhill etc. However, the DISD administration has invalidated my efforts and almost 2 decades of my kids’ hard work with the stroke of a pen. Have those idiots at 3700 lost their collective minds!!!! They should be making standards harder not easier! That encourages the parents of better students to come to Dallas to fight the good fight which increases property values and increases the money available for the existing students and the facilities. They have made DISD the laughing stock of the ENTIRE COUNTRY! I found out about this on FOX NEWS on the morning drive to work. What an embarrassment. I am going to work on getting anyone associated with this moronic episode canned. There should be a mass resignation at 3700! TODAY!!!

    By the way, most parents make school district decisions when their kids are going to attend ELEMENTARY school not high school. What caring parent would put their precious child into a school system that is designed to undercut a child’s abilities and future? The youngest kiddo’s need discipline and life experiences that teach them how to succeed after failure. These policies do the worst damage and harm to the most vulnerable and needy children. They need long term intensive tutoring not a white wash!!!! The shame and cruelty of these policies is almost beyond belief.
    Ron Gross

  57. Carlos says:

    Not too long ago, I went back to my High School. What I saw where a bunch of kids being disrespectful to each other … using abusive language, pushing and going at each other like roosters in a palenque.
    Back when I was in High School (1998 – 1992), we were given enough homework and reading material. It was challenging! Teachers were taugh and extremely helpful, if we showed interest, asking questions, and making sure that our questions were properly answers. Teachers showed interest on keeping our curiosity alive.
    I come from Guatemala. My experience in the DISD was as challenging as it was back in Guatemala. I enrolled myself in every sport I thought I had some potential for (Cross-country, soccer, swimming, baseball). I enrolled for summer school every year, just to get ahead. I also stayed in school to finish my homework; and once I got back home I read the material for the next day, so that I would have a better chance to understand all the lectures. I did this because I came from another country and I felt that being in the United States was the greatest opportunity of my life. I graduated with High Honors, member of the National Honor Society, received the award of Most Improved Athlete, and in the top 3% of my class (North Dallas High School – 1992).
    Now I hear that the standards are lowering.
    Now there is a debate about whether grades should be or not be 50 as the lowest.
    Now … teachers do things on their on discretion (with the correction of being only the ones that teach from 6 – 12 grades).
    Are we going to keep teaching our children that words are more valuable than Action?
    Are we becoming politicians and people who are so good on sugar-coating every weakness?
    Should the loser in every sport receive a medal for being the loser?
    Recently, in the Olympics, we saw great Americans earning medals. They earned them because they were capable and unquestionably Champions. That is the United States of America I always dreamed of being part of. Push our kids to do better … they will always amaze us on how much wonder they capable of doing and how beautifly they can make every single thing be.
    Don’t ever lower the standards – not even if that would make the leaders of the DISD look good on paper.
    Always remember: Our Kids Are the Future.

    (English is my second language, the USA is in my blood)

  58. Carlos says:

    Sorry.
    There were some words I mispelled and I meant “(1988 – 1992)”.
    I was writting too fast and I did not proofread.
    In any way: it is not about me, and the way I performed during those years – it is about the standards being enforced by the DISD this time around. The DISD should worry about the quality of their workforce, being such and the most important of all: “The Teachers.”
    If teachers are excellent and care about theirs students, inspire them to do better and work hard, then the GPA of every single student would be considered in the Honors level (and why not “High Honors” and “Highest Honors”).
    DISD should not look for solutions on the end-product, they should look for solution on their processes. Don’t lower the standards on students evaluations, raise the standards in the qualifiations of the teachers, and continually train the District’s teachers to improve the quality of education given to our students.
    Listen to this irresponsible statement: “…the students are not capable of doing better … that’s why the standards need to be lowered. If we don’t lower the standards, then we will have a lot of drop-outs. Lowering the standards does assure us of retaining more students than raising the standards would. By asking less from our students we will encourage them to stay in school.” What kind of leadership is that?

  59. Charles says:

    I agree with Carlos, and the main reason is that I come from Central America as well. You see, I had the luck to be in DISD, and I believe in rigorous standards even if that means that some students will fail the class. I was not the best in class, I admit. However, the classes were below what I considered important and challenging and up to a certain point I got a 70 simply because I was lazy. That is not the point here however, the point is that with the new standards for education among the DISD schools more and more students are getting the developmental classes that they need not be there in the first place.
    To say an example, many of the people who were a year lower than myself are taking Arithmetic on community colleges. Do you believe that? 18 year olds taking elementary math at a community college! For shame! I did not applied myself as I should have done on my self study of Algebra and so I got the boot into Elementary Algebra, and that was my mistake and I have to live with it. However, most students are not as lucky or as bright as I was to give myself more experience rather than comply to standards that were not going to help me at all. In fact, when I got into my first job I did not have any problems getting in whereas other kids from my class were struggling through the technical bits. And this is just talking from experience.
    Now then, what do children really spend their time on instead of myself who is a book nerd (I am trying to test out of Calculus and Physics just to give you a taste of what kind of person I am)? They spend it more in their MySpace or in watching TV rather than studying! The more I think about it, the more it makes my head boil. If I would introduce my children into DISD as it is right now, I’d have to be either poor enough so I can’t move to another state or a total moron. And should I stay here because my family is here there is no way I am putting my children through the intellectual disappointment I experienced. I’d rather home school them than send them to a school where they are not going to learn but to socialize, and I wish the guys at 3700 Ross Ave. try to raise the standards, which I firmly believe it won’t happen *sigh*
    Oh yeah, and for the morons who said that DISD is getting better, just take a look at our graduating students over here at the simplest and lowest of levels: community college (yeah I am going to a community college because I wanted to tackle my basics first, not because I was an idiot). And most importantly, look at your children’s ability to solve a simple error on a computer which can be solved by restarting the damn thing and ask yourself “are these the kind of skills my child is learning?”

  60. Charles says:

    Oh yeah, and for those of you who think you can come to me with your “you were not good” crap, I took several AP classes and I was by far the most advanced kid on my classes. I graduated with an 84.3 GPA and I got praise by most of my peers who were in high honors and highest honors, just to give you an idea of what kind of people I got myself accross (I even dare to say that everyone I met knew I was a smart guy) and this is not bragging, these are hard facts.