Recently, The New York Times published a story about a new way to measure school effectiveness based on findings from Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis. The article explains how when examining data from over 300 million elementary school test scores, and looking at student growth between 3rd and 8th grade, “it’s possible to separate some of the advantages of socioeconomics from what’s actually happening in schools.”

One Dallas County district that stood out based on student growth was Lancaster ISD, particularly when compared to Highland Park ISD, widely considered one of the ‘best’ school districts in North Texas.

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When you dig into the data in Lancaster, what you find is a district that is significantly outperforming the county and the state when it comes to black student achievement. Black students, who make up 77% of Lancaster ISD’s student body, are now outperforming their peers across the state on both Math and Science STAAR exams, growing their proficiency rate at the state’s post-secondary standard per STAAR assessments by over 15% on each subject over the last five years.

What is behind this impressive transformation?

Since 2012, Lancaster ISD has focused on closing the postsecondary readiness gap by preparing its students for success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers through a first-of-its-kind, district-wide STEM initiative implemented and funded by a $4.8 million grant from Educate Texas and the Texas Instruments Foundation.

The results have been outstanding.

In the past five years, Lancaster ISD has shown a remarkable 21% growth for black students across all Math STAAR exams in all grades. LISD now exceeds the state in Math STAAR performance for black students statewide, despite reflecting significantly more student economic disadvantage (81% for LISD vs. 59% for the state).

Additionally, Lancaster ISD has achieved 16% growth for black students across all Science STAAR exams in all grades since 2012 and now exceeds the state in Science STAAR performance for its majority population by seven percentage points.

Lancaster ISD has identified effective practices and integrated them into their district learning environment. By using research to understand the inputs that impact important student outcomes, creating new curriculum that develops students’ critical thinking skills for today’s workplace, and enthusiastic support from district leaders, partner organizations and teachers, LISD students have shown their true potential.

A key goal of the Commit Partnership is to use data to help identify outlier success in Dallas County schools. To learn more about best practices across Dallas County as they are published, follow the Commit Partnership on both Twitter and on Facebook.