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:

Dallas ISD academic performance improvement between 2011 and 2015 serves as a model for urban school performance nationwide. When the Education Resource Group first observed the dramatic increase in student outcomes [in 2013] we called it the “Dallas Miracle”.  

Dallas ISD showed more improvement in academic outcomes between 2011 and 2015 than any other large urban district in Texas.  In retrospect, that phrase (Dallas Miracle) is not fair to Superintendent Miles and his staff.  The word “miracle” implies an outside force. Improvement in student outcomes comes through hard work by district leadership and all of the Dallas ISD staff and support infrastructure.

Does public education in the US face a greater challenge than improving low performing urban school districts?  When a dramatic turnaround occurs, we must learn the lessons so that they may be applied to other school districts.