Comms Blog Economic Mobility 20220323 V1

Driving Economic Mobility Through College & Career Readiness

“We will become the chief economic mobility engine in the region.”

This was the goal set by Dallas ISD Supt. Dr. Michael Hinojosa in his most recent State of the District luncheon. In his speech, he echoed language first laid out in a recent OpEd he co-authored with Deputy Supt. Susana Cordova for the Dallas Morning News:

“For most of our careers, our success as school leaders was measured primarily by high school graduation. But if we want to positively transform our communities, we need to radically reconsider our responsibility to our students by partnering with higher ed and employers.”

These are lofty goals, and in order to have any chance of achieving them, they must be underpinned by robust, student-centered policy. Thankfully, forward-thinking administrators and board trustees are leveraging state funding opportunities to hold themselves accountable for ensuring more students graduate ready for college, career, and/or the military.

In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed the historic House Bill 3 (86 R), which, among many other transformational measures, created the College, Career & Military Readiness (CCMR) Outcomes-Based Funding. This innovative new funding source rewards school districts for ensuring more students graduate ready for postsecondary education and successfully transition to college or industry certification, with 67% more funding earned for success with students who are considered economically disadvantaged.

The criteria for achieving this additional funding is more focused and rigorous than the broad standard set of CCMR metrics within the state’s accountability system. (See graphic below) Beyond merely demonstrating readiness by meeting just one of eleven different accountability criteria, students must actually enroll in college or achieve an industry-based certification in addition to meeting the readiness threshold on the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment. Students who graduate high school with an associate degree automatically qualify for this state funding.

This level of rigor is important because, too often, students who demonstrate college readiness may not receive the advising support necessary to make it to their first day of postsecondary education. But before the passage of CCMR Outcomes-Based Funding, K-12 school districts were not incentivized by the state’s accountability or finance systems to own and invest in the “handoff” from high school to a postsecondary enrollment or career certification.

But even with the encouragement of additional funding, districts are still not necessarily held accountable by the state’s A-F system for making investments in this critical area of support. This is where local school board policy comes in.

On February 17th, 2022, Dallas ISD board trustees voted unanimously to create a new CCR policy aligned to the higher level of rigor outlined in the Outcomes-Bonus Funding. The district will now more closely monitor and report to the board on key metrics like postsecondary enrollment and completion rates and create annual “CCR Scorecards” for each individual campus.

Each yearly budget will also include a “college and career readiness plan” that outlines how current Outcomes-Bonus Funding will be used to further improve CCR rates, creating a cycle of continuous improvement, while also noting how much state funding still remains on the table for the district to receive if outcomes improve.

For years, Dallas ISD has invested in a variety of initiatives designed to produce greater college and career-readiness, such as P-Tech and Early College High Schools. But these individual tactics were being implemented on a campus-by-campus basis, rather than as part of an overall framework applied to the entire school district. What is perhaps most powerful about this new board policy is the opportunity for all of these disparate tactics to cohere into one systemwide strategy with a clear understanding of current outcomes for all students.

“I think this is going to be a game-changer for the district,” said Board Trustee Karla Garcia, who helped author the policy. “This is [an] opportunity to transform Dallas ISD to a place where students not only can learn at the beginning stages of life, but be prepared to take on those next steps after high school and be[come] intentional members of our society.”

If you would like to learn more about developing a strategic CCMR framework in your local school district, please contact Katrina James, Managing Director at the Commit Partnership.

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