Since our Partnership was founded over 11 years ago, we’ve relentlessly worked to help change our troubling regional academic outcomes and their resulting impact on living wage attainment and overall poverty levels. We knew that our challenges were too big to solve alone and that together, armed with robust data insights, we could begin to accelerate our community’s progress. Thanks to the tireless efforts of numerous area organizations working in tandem, that growth has begun.
Across all 12 indicators that our Partnership tracks — including living wage attainment, which we added just last year — the growth of students in Dallas County exceeded statewide growth from 2012 through 2019, despite reflecting higher concentrations of poverty and a greater percentage of Emergent Bilingual students.
But we faced a challenge we didn’t see coming. Despite the best efforts of our dedicated educators, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted the delivery of instruction and continuation of student success. In the intervening years, our educators worked harder than ever to accelerate student learning, and we are beginning to see those efforts pay off: reading achievement has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels in Dallas County (see our Interactive Scorecard Dashboard for an overview of how Dallas County and the State of Texas are doing on key educational benchmarks).
It’s clear we have much more ground to cover. Learning indicators in other subjects, particularly in the essential topic of Algebra I, are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels. Most worrisome to me, our postsecondary enrollment and completion rates remain stubbornly low, even when compared to 2012 rates, making it critical we remain steadfast in our efforts in this sector if we’re going to achieve our “true north” living wage attainment goal.
Still, over this past year, despite the obstacles facing our community, our students, educators, and administrators have continued to shine. The courageous and student-centered educators, school leaders, and superintendents right here in Dallas County provide clear examples we can look to as we seek new strategies to growing student success:
- In Lancaster ISD, we see reading growth driven by long-term investments in pre-K and reading infrastructure.
- In Dallas ISD, we see promising growth in advanced math enrollment fueled by an innovative opt-out policy that has since become state law.
- And at Dallas College’s School of Education, we see an innovative approach to addressing teacher vacancies that is solving another problem for our county: college persistence.
These are just a few examples of the incredible work being done in our county to address learning gaps and set all of our children up for success. I’m especially excited to be featuring an institution of higher education in our “Bright Spot” section for the first time in the history of the
Partnership’s scorecard reports. My ability to earn a living wage was made possible by 99% financial aid from Austin College, and it’s my hope that our shared efforts locally (with the Dallas County Promise) and statewide (through the historic community college finance reform of HB8) can provide that kind of opportunity to more young North Texans for years to come.
Our Partnership deeply believes Dallas County — and our state as a whole — can be an inclusive and prosperous region where economic opportunity is shared by all rather than consistently predicted by race, place, and socioeconomic status. But it will take all of us to create the enabling conditions that reverse the impact of systems built up over decades that currently hinder success for many of our children.
This work is long-dated. It will take time, continued resolve, and trust — but it can be done. Thank you for being our partner in this critical work.
Chairman and CEO