In 2014, Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) had significant performance disparities across its 234 schools—43 of which were designated as "Improvement Required" by the state, which are schools that do not meet targets for student achievement, student progress, and achievement gap closure. Many low-income students lacked equitable access to high-performing schools, and middle-income students were exiting the district to attend charter and private schools at greater rates than ever before.
The district implemented a dual approach to improve equity and excellence across all schools: It combined intensive supports to the lowest-performing schools with programmatic transformations to a broader range of schools spread across the district. To sustainably support this more diverse system of schools, the central office transformed its support and accountability systems to be clear about the district's "non-negotiables" for every school, and to efficiently vary all other flexibilities, supports, and resources based on schools' needs.
This approach has increased student access to high-quality schools with diverse programming and improved student performance across the district. Since implementation began, Dallas ISD increased proficiency on the state assessment from 27 percent to 40 percent. The district reduced the number of "Improvement Required" schools from 43 to 4—now, only 1 percent of students (2,300) are enrolled in an "Improvement Required" school, compared to 15 percent of students (23,500) during the 2014-15 school year.
Access tangible materials—such as templates and tools—that leaders in Dallas used to create a public school choice program.
Click the links below to explore other case studies in the Districts at Work series that accompany Dallas Independent School District: Advancing Equitable Access to Great Schools by either audience role or by topic.
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School districts across the country struggle with systemic challenges, such as increasingly rigorous academic standards, more varied student needs, and persistent achievement gaps. The Districts at Work series of case studies shares specific examples from districts that are taking a new approach to these types of systemic challenges—and seeing exciting results.