Blog posts

The "Dallas Miracle"

In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of growth metrics.  Shortly after that, Paul Haeberlen, the COO of the Education Resource Group (ERG), wrote me and confirmed the importance of these types of metrics. 

ERG is a company that provides the only valid and reliable growth measurement for Texas school districts.  Because Texas does not have a longitudinal growth or norm-referenced metric, and because of the importance of these metrics to determine progress and success, we used our own district-created growth metrics to assess teachers and principals in the Dallas Independent School District where I had been the superintendent until recently.  We relied on ERG to show us how we were doing relative to the other districts in the state.  Their data helped provide a more complete picture of the District’s performance.

Here is what he wrote:

Importance of growth metrics

Around ten years ago a group of Colorado educators and I helped create the longitudinal growth model being used to assess student academic progress.  The legislature and Colorado Department of Education understood the importance of not only assessing a student’s performance relative to academic standards, but also assessing how much progress a student makes in a year and how well he is doing relative to his peers.

Both broad metrics – how proficient a student is and how much progress she is making – is important for parents, students, and schools to know.  Especially during periods where the standards are raised or state assessments change, growth metrics and indices that show relative progress provide a more complete picture of how a student or a school is doing. 

Third Future begins

The last couple of years have been tough for educational reformers.  As a friend of mine put it, “the reform community is suffering from a low-grade depression.”  As a profession, we seem to be adrift among changing priorities and an inability to make significant academic improvement or to help students prepare for a fundamentally different workplace.  Across the country, there has been retrenchment or confusion regarding more rigorous standards, the number and types of state-level assessments, newly-created teacher evaluation systems, and stronger accountability measures.


Some degree of the pendulum swinging back was to be expected.  However, in some cases, poor implementation and lack of follow- through contributed to the public discontent; in others, a failure to understand the systemic nature of district or school reform frustrated progress and strengthened the case of those fighting to keep the status quo.