How Dallas created accountability

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SEP ’90

The Dallas School Board appoints a Commission on Educational Excellence to study school reform ideas, and a Task Force on Facilities to draw up a $275 million bond-financed construction package. Lawyer Sandy Kress, a former county Democratic Party chairman, is named to lead the commission.

JUN ’91

The commission issues its final report, which calls for a sophisticated accountability system, based largely on test scores, along with four other broad reforms. The commission says the statistical analysis should be used to rate schools, principals and teachers.

AUG ’91

Citing technical problems, the school system’s research chief recommends postponing the use of the accountability system to evaluate teachers; the School Board votes for the postponement.

SEP ’91

The School Board approves the commission’s report and recommendations.

MAY ’92

Kress and another commission member win seats on the nine-member School Board, as do other candidates who backed the commission’s proposals.

SEP ’92

The district uses the accountability system to rank schools for the first time. The top 41 schools and their staffs split a $2.3 million pot, half of which was raised by the private sector. The School Board approves a budget that gives extra resources to the worst-performing schools.

APR ’93

The School Board holds a controversial “instructional retreat,” at which principals from 16 low-ranked schools are questioned about their improvement plans.

SEP ’93

The release of the second school effectiveness ranking is marred by an investigation into a dramatic rise in 4th-grade reading scores at one elementary school. Five months later, the school district confirms that incorrect answers had been erased and replaced with correct ones.

APR ’94

In a speech to business leaders, Supt. Chad Woolery says he wants to tie teacher evaluations to students’ test scores.

AUG ’94

Supt. Woolery says he wants to focus extra support on six low-ranked schools through what he calls his “schools restructuring initiative.”

NOV ’94

The School Board decides to tie administrators’ and principals’ evaluations to school rankings.

MAR ’95

The School Board approves a teacher evaluation tied to the classroom equivalent of the school-by-school ranking. The top 40 percent of teachers will skip two annual evaluations, while the bottom 10 percent will face mandatory training.