"If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." It’s a phrase widely employed in the private sector but too often ignored when it comes to education. As Commit CEO and Chairman Todd Williams pointed out recently to the Texas Tribune, nearly all of the 5.4 million students of Texas can’t vote or employ lobbyists. “The best advocate for their voice, if they’re not at the table, is the data.”
So, what does the data tell us about student success in North Texas? That’s the question the Commit Partnership’s Community Achievement Scorecard seeks to answer every year. The Scorecard measures student outcomes across a set of eleven indicators that, together, create a thorough, objective understanding of the growth and the needs of our community.
Since Commit’s creation in 2012, over 47,000 additional Dallas County students are now achieving key academic benchmarks. Six of our 11 indicators see regular positive growth. Over 33,000 students no longer attend a campus designated “failing.” And across all grade levels and subjects, 10% more Dallas County students are meeting grade level on state assessments.
One of the biggest drivers of this overall improvement has been a steady increase in Pre-K enrollment in the region. This indicator, the first of the scorecard’s eleven, has grown 12% since 2012. By attending high-quality, full-day Pre-K, students are much more likely to read by 3rd grade, demonstrate numeracy in 4th grade, and graduate from high school. Each of these Scorecard indicators, in turn, have seen gains year-after-year.
Unfortunately, five other Scorecard indicators continue to trend flat or slightly negative. Four out of these five relate to postsecondary readiness and completion. This data, collected and analyzed over time, has informed the creation of Commit’s newest coalition, the Dallas County Promise. Our Promise team supports students through the financial aid process to ensure a tuition-free pathway to an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or industry certification. It is our hope that, given the progress this initiative has already made towards greater postsecondary enrollment, it will begin to make a countywide impact with continued expansion and implementation.
Most troubling is our failure to adequately address the achievement gap between black and white students. While we have seen gains made for Hispanic, low-income, and English-language learning students, the disparity between black and white students in 3rd grade reading and 4th grade math has actually grown slightly. This is due primarily to increased gains among other student subgroups, but still suggests that we must do more to ensure every child shares in the success of their peers across our region.
There is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure every student receives an excellent and equitable education that prepares them to flourish in college and career. It is our hope that the data provided herein allows for more informed, student-focused decision making across the systems in our community. Whether you are an educator, administrator, parent, or advocate, you are a stakeholder in our ongoing iterative process, and we hope that you take part. Explore our full Community Achievement Scorecard here.