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Dallas County Students Show Significant Improvement on Key Academic Indicators

The recently released State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) data from the Texas Education Agency indicates noteworthy improvement for Dallas County students. The 4th Grade Math indicator, which contributes to showing if Dallas County students are on a postsecondary pace, is the largest gain from 2016 to 2017, raising seven percentage points. Since 2012, all indicators have increased considerably (3rd Grade Reading up five percentage points, 4th Grade Math up 14 percentage points, 8th Grade Science up 11 percentage points, and Algebra 1 up 11 percentage points). Overall, 24,000 more Dallas County students are meeting The Partnership’s four STAAR benchmarks today than in 2012. Since 2016, 8,900 more Dallas County students are meeting indicators that show they are on a postsecondary pace (1,241 more students meeting 3rd Grade Reading, 3,957 more students meeting 4th Grade Math, 1,068 more students meeting 8th Grade Science, and 2,590 more students meeting Algebra 1). While STAAR results cannot be the sole predictor for student success, the significant improvement for Dallas County students is encouraging overall. With more students meeting key academic benchmarks this year, we are one step closer to the state’s 60x30 goal: By 2030, at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree.

Bright Spot: Dallas ISD’s Academic Improvement

With the recent release of campus and district level STAAR data for 2016-17, it’s important for The Commit! Partnership to highlight growth in academic achievement among all of our district partners…and none are more important to Dallas County’s success overall than Dallas ISD given its substantial enrollment (158,000+ students) and its relative size (the district educates 1 in 3 County students). In 2016-17, Dallas ISD continued its strong academic progress. Highlights included the following: Math achievement across Grades 3-8 grew another 5% in 2017 at the state’s “Meets” or post-secondary pace level, exceeding the County’s growth of 3%. Since 2012, math achievement has grown a substantial 14% across Grades 3-8, again exceeding the County’s strong growth of 9%. In 2016-17, Dallas ISD reading achievement across Grades 3-8 was flat at the state’s “Meets” standard but actually exceeded the change in County achievement (which declined slightly by 1%). Since 2012, Dallas ISD Grade 3-8 reading achievement has grown 5% vs. 3% for the County. More importantly, reading achievement in the critical area of 3rd grade has grown 8% in just the last two years, reflecting the district’s strong budgetary commitment to early childhood. Achievement growth has been shared across all Dallas ISD ethnicities since 2012, particularly in math where proficiency growth rates for Anglo students (+15%), Hispanic students (+15%) and black students (+11%) have all exceeded County and state growth by several percentage points for those same ethnicities. One of DISD’s most impactful strategies to deliver equity to disadvantaged students has been its “ACE” program, where the district’s more effective teachers (as determined by the district’s innovative evaluation system) are financially incentivized to work together in the district’s most challenged schools. This strategy has been particularly effective at the elementary school level; over its first two years across four pilot elementary schools, math achievement has grown an average of 34% (and now exceeds the district) while reading achievement has grown 19%. ACE will be expanding at the administration’s and board’s direction to six more campuses in Fall 2017, and other area districts are exploring similar strategies based on ACE’s initial success. Based on this cumulative achievement growth, Dallas ISD has made tremendous progress in reducing the number of schools (and students educated within) rated by the state as “Improvement Required”, declining from 43 schools in 2014 to potentially as few as 15 schools in 2017 (final ratings will be released later this week from TEA). Students educated within an IR campus have declined almost 75% during that time frame – a remarkable achievement – and Dallas ISD has substantially led every other large urban district in the state in IR campus reduction. Dallas ISD’s expansion of its Early College programming to eight new comprehensive campuses saw STAAR achievement proficiency at the Meets standard that was 2x to 4x greater than those students who did not enroll in the program while also reflecting higher attendance rates and 9th to 10th grade retention rates. The Early College program will be expanding at the [...]

Irving ISD Receives Commit! Bright Spot Award: 5-Year Improvement

Irving Independent School District was recognized at our Annual Community Achievement Scorecard event in March with the first annual Commit! Bright Spot Award: 5-Year Improvement. Recognized for the best performance over the five years that Commit! has been measuring academic success across the county, Irving ISD has seen a 12% gain across Commit!’s ‘Cradle-to-Career indicators’ , and a 3% decline in income-based achievement gaps. In total, 2,161 more students are meeting key benchmarks from kindergarten readiness through high school graduation rate in Irving ISD. Irving ISD’s growth in the last year-and-a-half, in absolute and in relative terms, has been quite significant. Using the Level 2 Final Recommended (postsecondary readiness) passing rate, Irving ISD outgrew state performance on 17 of 21 STAAR exams from 2014 to 2015 — closing its gap with the state by more than 8% on the English I and II and 4th Grade Math exams, respectively. Moreover, Irving ISD continues to shine nationally in Advanced Placement (“AP”) exam participation and success rates. Irving ISD 2017 Bright Spot Award from Commit2Dallas on Vimeo. Irving ISD Superintendent Jose Parra attributes the district’s success to a clear set of guiding principles across the organization, a concentration on collaborative leadership, a prioritization of attendance growth and dropout prevention, a student-centered focus, and a data-driven, continuous improvement of the curriculum. “Irving ISD had the highest growth rate of student achievement across our indicators ranging from Kindergarten readiness to high school graduation.” explained Sagar Desai, Chief Operating Officer of The Commit! Partnership. “The other key factor was Irving’s success in helping low-income students achieve at levels commensurate with their peers.” Only one other school district in Dallas County matched Irving ISD’s performance since the inception of The Partnership, and that was Lancaster ISD. The cradle-to-career indicators included in this measurement are: kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade science, algebra 1, college readiness, and high school graduation. These indicators were determined based on best practices and input from community leaders across the country as the key measures for student success across their K-12 academic career.     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.

Grand Prairie ISD Receives Commit! Bright Spot Award: Year Over Year Growth

Grand Prairie Independent School District (GPISD) has become a leader among Dallas County’s 14 traditional school districts in overall student enrollment growth while closing achievement gaps with the state. And GPISD has done so with one of the region’s higher economically disadvantaged student populations (72% vs. 59% for the state) and one of its lower operating revenues (~$5,600 per student). In March, GPISD was awarded the first annual Commit! Bright Spot Award: Year Over Year Growth at the Commit! Partnership Annual Dallas County Scorecard Achievement event. Recognized for the best performance over the prior year, Grand Prairie ISD has seen a 7 percent gain across Commit!’s ‘Cradle-to-Career indicators’ of academic proficiency, and a 2 percent decline in income-based achievement gaps. In total, 1,800 more students are meeting key benchmarks from kindergarten readiness through high school graduation rate in Grand Prairie ISD. Grand Prairie ISD 2017 Bright Spot Award from Commit2Dallas on Vimeo. Grand Prairie ISD Superintendent Susan Hull attributes the district’s success to a relentless focus on student achievement, an innovative and substantial expansion of school choice, growing relational capacity throughout by including parents, and data-driven decision making. “Grand Prairie ISD had the highest growth rate of student achievement across our indicators ranging from Kindergarten Readiness to High School Graduation in the last year,” explained Sagar Desai, Chief Operating Officer at Commit!. “The other key factor was Grand Prairie’s success in helping low-income students achieve at levels commensurate with their peers.” The cradle-to-career indicators included in this measurement are: kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade science, algebra 1, college readiness, and high school graduation. These indicators were determined based on best practices and input from community leaders across the country as the key measures for student success across their K-12 academic career.     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.

Lancaster ISD Receives Commit! Bright Spot Award: 5-Year Improvement

In March, Lancaster Independent School District was recognized with the first annual Commit! Bright Spot Award: 5-Year Improvement at our Annual Community Achievement Scorecard event. In Dallas County, Lancaster ISD has made impressive student achievement gains 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. Recognized for the best performance over the five years that Commit! has been measuring academic success across the county, Lancaster ISD has seen a 12 percentage point gain across Commit!’s ‘Cradle-to-Career indicators’ and a 3 percentage point decline in income-based achievement gaps. In total, 614 more students are meeting key benchmarks from Kindergarten readiness through high school graduation rate in Lancaster ISD. Lancaster ISD 2017 Bright Spot Award from Commit2Dallas on Vimeo. Lancaster ISD Superintendent Michael McFarland attributes the district’s success to a culture of student achievement originating from the board of trustees, an intentional focus on getting the right campus leaders, targeted STEM efforts, and a continual focus on data to drive to student growth. “Lancaster ISD had the highest growth rate of student achievement across our indicators ranging from Kindergarten Readiness to High School Graduation,” explained Sagar Desai, Chief Operating Officer of The Commit! Partnership. “The other key factor was Lancaster’s success in helping low-income students achieve at levels commensurate with their peers.” Lancaster ISD recently implemented a first-of-its-kind, district-wide STEM initiative; designing, planning and iterating on curriculum and culture. The journey to close the college and career-readiness gap between Lancaster ISD and wealthier districts accelerated in 2012 when the district received a $4.8 million-dollar grant from Educate Texas and the Texas Instruments Foundation to implement the initiative—with the potential to identify effective practices other districts could integrate into the learning environment. Only one other school district in Dallas County matched Lancaster ISD’s performance since the inception of The Partnership, and that was Irving ISD.     The cradle-to-career indicators included in this measurement are kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade science, algebra 1, college readiness, and high school graduation. These indicators were determined based on effective practices and input from community leaders across the country as the key measures for student success across their K-12 academic career. 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.

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