Bright Spots

Dallas ISD – A Primary Driver in Regional Achievement Growth

Bright Spot Blog Series

17 February 2016

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 increased 151% to 3,621 unique students while the number of exams passed increased by 270% vs. the prior year.

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