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Grand Prairie ISD: Growing Enrollment & Achievement Through Choice

As we continue our Bright Spots blog series, we turn our focus to another school district: Grand Prairie ISD (GPISD), which has become a leader among Dallas County’s 14 traditional school districts in overall student enrollment growth (increasing at a 3X faster rate) 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). As shown in the following charts, GPISD has seen significant achievement growth at the Postsecondary Readiness standard level across the board, while its economically disadvantaged students have grown notably compared to the state across all subject areas. One of the key factors driving these achievements has been GPISD’s steady transition since 2012 to a robust district-wide school choice model — allowing for open enrollment across a diverse set of schools with varied program and curriculum options. Their transition is driven by their strong belief that parent and student selection of a school model that resonates personally with them leads to higher student attendance and less mobility during the school year – both critical factors influencing student achievement. At the same time, GPISD has found that campus leaders and teachers able to educate within a model that they help create and that resonates personally with them (i.e., fine arts, single gender, leadership, environmental science, career and technical, etc.) will be more engaged, taking fewer personal days and reducing the district’s teacher substitute costs. The result: GPISD over the last 5+ years has increased student achievement, most markedly within its schools of choice while higher student revenues and lower substitute teacher costs have helped pay for the increased transportation and marketing costs associated with their choice model. Most importantly, ten of the 14 choice schools that have been in operation for at least one year were recognized by the Texas Education Agency in 2014-15 as being in the top 25% of the state in terms of student progress, with three of these schools (Dubiski, Collegiate Prep and Grand Prairie Fine Arts) receiving all seven possible TEA distinctions. Strong parental and taxpayer satisfaction also led in 2015 to GPISD’s 70%+ passage of a special tax ratification election called by their Board of Trustees, creating $0.13 per $100 valuation of additional annual revenue ($14mm) locked in gong forward and targeted toward teacher pay, early childhood, and ongoing capital improvements. For more about the history behind GPISD’s decision to embark upon a school choice system, an overview of their current portfolio offerings, and a description of their parent outreach efforts, you can download this complete bright spots PDF here. To automatically recieve the next installment in this series, fill out the form below or check on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag "#DallasBrightSpots".

Irving ISD – Accelerating Student Success with Consistency in Purpose and Practice

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, and the district also projects improving its high school graduation rate by more than 5% from 2014 to 2015 when their final 2015 graduation rates are released. Behind Irving ISD’s impressive growth is a set of newly-established, mutually-reinforcing practices encompassing, but not limited, to: Fidelity to a clear set of guiding principles Concentration on collaborative leadership, both within and across campuses Data-driven, continuous curricular improvement Prioritization of attendance growth and dropout prevention Student-centered focus, in principle and practice As the district continues to improve upon the new systems and initiatives developed, it is instituting new programs to improve every child’s early learning experiences and outcomes while better supporting the language needs of its largely English Language Learners (ELL) population (41% of all students). Given its innovative approach and its recent successes, the Partnership will continue to track Irving ISD’s progress and share additional insights with the greater community. As we continue our blog series, we will explore some of the policies and practices behind the bright spots in Dallas, Grand Prairie and Irving ISDs. You can download the complete bright spots PDF here. To automatically recieve the next installment in this series, fill out the form below or check on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag "#DallasBrightSpots".

By |February 25th, 2016|Bright Spots|0 Comments

Dallas ISD – A Primary Driver in Regional Achievement Growth

If you care about educational outcomes in Dallas County, you cannot help but take a strong interest in Dallas ISD. The 2nd largest district in Texas, its ~160,000 students in Pre-K thru 12 represent roughly 1 in 3 students in Dallas County. Its academic outcomes thus substantially impact on the economic health of both Dallas County and its 2.5 million people as well as the greater Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex. For that reason, it is worth highlighting and celebrating the significant gains seen in Dallas ISD since the Commit Partnership began tracking overall academic progress in 2012 across the over 490,000 students educated by Dallas County’s 14 traditional public school districts and its 35+ public charter networks. Across the four specific STAAR indicators that the Partnership tracks (3rd grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade science and Algebra 1), DISD had the 2nd highest growth among the County’s 14 school districts and largest charter network in proficiency rates since our baseline year, trailing only Coppell ISD. Its 4,000+ student increase in proficiency for these four metrics represented more than half of Dallas County’s total growth during the last 3 years. Academic achievement for Dallas ISD students at the Final Recommended Standard (the STAAR indicator most aligned with post secondary readiness) have increased markedly, almost doubling in math and science and more than doubling in social studies. Reading growth was less substantial but still positive. The district’s gap in academic achievement with the state at the post secondary standard (across all students and tests) for economically disadvantaged students (which represents ~87% of DISD’s enrollment) has been eliminated in math and social studies and halved in science. Per NAEP, or "The Nation’s Report Card", Dallas ISD grew 5 points from 2011 to 2015 in 4th grade math, ranking 6th among major urban districts tracked by NAEP in the nation. Per the Education Resource Group, Dallas ISD has moved from the 45th percentile to the 77th percentile among the 200 largest districts tracked by ERG when adjusting for poverty since the Partnership began tracking outcomes (primarily due to the district’s notable gains at the more rigorous levels of STAAR), moving from 30 percentile points behind its most similar district in size and demographics (Houston ISD) to 10 percentile points ahead. DISD’S four year graduation rate increased from 84% for the Class of 2011 to 87% for the Class of 2014, the most recent data available; The percent of students graduating with a recommended (vs. minimum) high school degree rose another 3% to 87% in 2014, exceeded the state average of 81%; The number of students graduating with a college ready SAT or ACT score increased by 1% from 2011 to 2014; The number of students passing an AP or IB test increased from 22% to 33% while the number of test takers increased by 3% during that 2011-2014 time frame. In 2014-15, DISD increased participation rates for certification exam takers, number of exams taken, and the number passed. The number of exam takers [...]

By |February 17th, 2016|Bright Spots|0 Comments

Recognizing Bright Spots for Students in Poverty and Students of Color

In our previous bright spots post, we explored those partner districts achieving outlier year-over-year gains during the 2014-2015 school year. Here we take a closer look at those campuses where economically disadvantaged students and students of color achieved outlier success in '14-'15. With nearly 3 out of 4 of Dallas County’s public school students eligible for free or reduced price lunch, the performance of our economically disadvantaged scholars is crucial to our region’s future success. Looking at campuses as a whole and the overall performance of their economically disadvantaged students in 2014-2015, notable outliers well exceeding Dallas County’s overall economically disadvantaged student performance on STAAR exams (26% Postsecondary Readiness Rate in Grades 3-5, 24% in Grades 6-8) emerge. Several districts have multiple highest-achieving outliers among non-magnet campuses, including Richardson, Dallas, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Garland, and Mesquite ISDs. Over 4 in 5 Dallas County public school students are Hispanic or African American. Eliminating achievement disparities is imperative for the educational and economic success of our region. Looking at 3rd Grade Reading STAAR performance at the Postsecondary Readiness standard, several campuses across Dallas County stand out in supporting their Hispanic and African American students’ success. Several examples for Hispanic students emerge in Dallas and Garland ISDs, while campuses where African American students out-perform their peer group countywide are more widespread—with multiple examples in Richardson, Grand Prairie and Irving ISDs among others. The above charts are merely illustrative of the mission of the Commit! Partnership— using data, identifying best practices, and working together to spread what works so that we help all students in our region flourish. Each campus or district highlighted above has a story behind the data—of great teaching, leadership, parent engagement, partnerships, or otherwise—that we all can and must learn from. As we continue our blog series, we will explore some of the policies and practices behind the bright spots in Dallas, Grand Prairie and Irving ISDs. You can download the complete bright spots PDF here. To automatically recieve the next installment in this series, fill out the form below or check on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag "#DallasBrightSpots".

By |February 10th, 2016|Bright Spots|0 Comments

Celebrating 2014-2015 Bright Spots

In our first bright spots blog post, we highlighted partner districts earning notable growth since the Partnership was formed in 2012. In this second post, we explore those partner districts achieving outlier year-over-year gains during the 2014-2015 school year. While the state as a whole showed 2% to 3% declines in the STAAR Postsecondary Readiness standard for two Commit! Partnership early grades indicators, 3rd Grade Reading and 4th Grade Math, partner districts Irving and Duncanville ISDs reflected year-on-year growth in both subjects (Irving ISD in fact grew year-over-year across all four subject areas measured by the Partnership and will be featured in a separate post). Additionally, Mesquite and Carrollton Farmers Branch ISDs grew in absolute terms and against the state in 3rd Grade Reading, and Coppell, Lancaster and Highland Park ISDs grew in absolute terms and against the state in 4th Grade Math. Middle grades math and science, key predictors of STEM college and career readiness, are also key indicators for the Commit! Partnership. In 8th Grade Science, using the STAAR Postsecondary Readiness standard, the state as a whole dropped 2.5% in year-on-year achievement, but DeSoto, Irving, Highland Park, and Dallas ISDs in fact increased achievement. The picture in Algebra I is rosier, with the state growing 3.6% year-on-year on the STAAR Postsecondary Readiness standard. Mesquite, Grand Prairie, and Dallas ISDs were particularly notable in out-growing the state in Algebra I performance. You can download the complete bright spots PDF here. To automatically recieve the next installment in this series, fill out the form below or check on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag "#DallasBrightSpots".

By |February 2nd, 2016|Bright Spots|0 Comments

Introducing the Bright Spot Blog Series

Every day, roughly 50 independent and public charter districts educate over 490,000 students across Dallas County; if the County was a state, its K-12 population would rank higher than the K-12 enrollment of 24 states in the U.S.! In other words, what happens here, and what is achieved, has real significance to both our state and our nation. Across this diverse landscape, numerous school districts and campuses – often without fanfare or recognition of any kind – have been achieving outlier success in their quest to improve the odds for more of their learners. To celebrate that achievement, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts in the weeks leading up to the release of the Partnership’s 4th annual Community Achievement Scorecard in March. You can check back here, on Facebook or on Twitter using #DallasBrightSpots. You can download the accompanying full PDF story for this first bright spots blog post here. In this first installment, we recognize those partner districts earning notable growth since the Partnership was formed in 2012. It was then that we started to compile 11 indicators across Dallas County, ranging from enrollment of eligible Pre-K students to Postsecondary Completion rates for all public high school students within six years of graduation. Four of those 11 indicators represent State of Texas STAAR exams (3rd grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade science, and Algebra 1). As you can see below, more than 7,500 additional students have met proficiency benchmarks in these four benchmarks since the Commit! Partnership's inception. We took a look at the data released via the Texas Education Agency’s 2014-15 Texas Academic Performance Report and found some of the following “bright spots” over the past 3 years when we examined the Level II: Final Recommended/Postsecondary Readiness Standard: Overall, Dallas County public schools have increased proficiency across the Partnership’s four STAAR indicators by 2% since 2012, with an additional ~7,500 students proficient than when the Commit! Partnership was formed. In terms of combined increases in proficiency across these indicators, Coppell ISD (up 7%), and Dallas ISD and Lancaster ISD (both up 6%) led the region. In terms of absolute proficiency rates, Highland Park ISD led the region across three of the four STAAR subjects in 2014-15 (Coppell ISD led in 8th grade Science) while Richardson ISD also consistently performed well due in part to its relative proficiency with low-income populations. In terms of growth in the numbers of proficient students, Dallas ISD (with 4,000+ additional students proficient since 2012 despite a declining enrollment) comprised over half of the region’s collective three-year gain, a fact not surprising given both its increased proficiency of 6% and its relative size. While 3rd grade Reading represented the region’s biggest challenge vs. the state (the County’s overall proficiency fell by 2% relative to the state over the last three years), Irving ISD (up 5%) and Coppell ISD (up 4%) showed outlier growth. In 4th grade Math, the region kept pace with state’s growth of 2% since 2012, driven by the [...]

By |January 25th, 2016|Bright Spots|0 Comments