The Dallas Independent School District has steadily improved over the last several years. Student achievement, as measured by the state TAKS exams, has improved in a number of core areas and the graduation rate has climbed from 62.5% in 2007 to 74.6% in 2011. The percentage of Dallas ISD students performing at college-ready levels (TAKS Commended) has increased in each of the last five years.
Students, staff, and community members can be proud of the District’s successes and the foundation school leaders have laid which will allow the organization to move from good to great.
Much more to do
We have much more to do. We still have a low graduation rate and many of the students who graduate are not college or career ready. Our achievement gaps are too large, and not all students are getting the best education we can possibly provide. A quick review of schools and an analysis of District data reveal that the quality of instruction can be improved and that leadership capacity is low. Dallas ISD is not working systemically and has the potential to be much more effective. The organization is fairly traditional and is far from adaptive.
The last point is important because the educational landscape is changing quickly. It is also clear that the Year 2020 workplace will require different skills and enhanced abilities to think critically and work in teams. Given that a more global environment and flatter world require a higher level of education and rigorous, year-2020 skills, we must expect more of our students and challenge ourselves to prepare them for post-secondary education and the Year 2020 workplace. We need to create a college-going mindset.
We need to expect our students to have the skills and proficiency needed to continue their education after high school. We need to convince our parents and community that college is within the reach of our students. We need to follow through on the notion that a student who can read, communicate well both verbally and in writing, do math, and demonstrate proficiency in Year 2020 skills such as working in teams, information literacy, and economics, will not only be better able to enter college, but, should the student choose not to go to college, be better able to enter the vocational trades. A "vocational education" program can no longer mean that a student does not attain proficiency in the core subjects and a Year 2020 curriculum.