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 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.