The Pieces Are in Place to Make DISD the Best Urban District in the Country. Can Its Leaders Pull It Off?

It’s rare — particularly in urban school districts — for all the ingredients for success to emerge at the same time.That’s precisely the encouraging position Dallas ISD finds itself in after scoring breakthroughs on many of the barriers that persistently hurt its chances to help students win.The district is seeing remarkable growth in testing. It has more financial contributions — locally and from the state — than it has had in a while. Its keystone reforms are in place.And with Saturday’s election of newcomer Karla Garcia, the board is now stacked with more reform-minded trustees who support the district’s effective policies than we can remember.Now we expect this district to make good on its potential. In other words, there are no more excuses for it not to become one of the best urban school districts in the nation. We believe it has been heading in the right direction. And it’s up to district leaders to follow all the way through.Here’s why we’re optimistic they can pull it off:Finally, Texas lawmakers did their jobs this session and pumped millions more into public schools. For DISD, that means it gets to keep about $22 million that would have otherwise been sent back to the state through recapture. Full-day kindergarten will be funded at nearly $980 more per student, which means DISD will have more money to continue its innovative programs that are starting to bear fruit.That money will allow the district to keep intact its successful teacher pay-for-performance system that rewards the best teachers the most for years to come. That system — and the district’s Accelerating Campus Excellence plan that puts the best teachers where they are needed the most — are credited with drastically reducing the district’s failing schools.  Continue reading...

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