What Makes Two of Dallas Independent Schools the Top in the Nation?

What Makes Two of Dallas Independent Schools the Top in the Nation?

By Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.

 

 

 

– More thantwo-thirds of new jobs require some postsecondary education according to theNational Association of Secondary School Principals. With America’s studentsnot taking enough advanced courses in chemistry and physics compared toindustrialized countries, much is written about the mediocrity of its schools’performance on standardized test such as the 2009 administration of the Programfor International Student Assessment. For instance, the U.S. ranked 25th inmathematics, 17th in science and 14th in reading out of 34 countries. However, little is written about highperforming schools that consistently prepare students for college and a globaland competitive workforce. To gain an understanding of the commitment andcharacteristics of high performing schools, the question to be asked is: Whatmakes two of Dallas Independent School District’s schools the top in thenation? {{more}} DISD’s School for the Talented and Giftedplaces emphasis on the advanced placement curriculum requiring its students totake a minimum of 11 advanced placement courses for graduation. With anenrollment of 229 high school students , the School for the Talented and Gifted also affords itsstudents the opportunity for field research through partnerships with localuniversities. With college-level course work being the benchmark, the schoolachieved 100 percent proficiency on its state test for reading and mathematics,as well as 100 percent proficiency for college readiness as measured by studentparticipation rates in advanced placement and international baccalaureateexams, as well as pass rates on the exams. DISD’s School of Science and Engineeringallows its students to take advanced placement courses their freshman year andaffords them the opportunity to earn college credits through dual enrollmentwith local community colleges and universities. The School of Science andEngineering has 407 high school students of which 57 percent are Hispanic, 18percent African-American, 16 percent White, eight percent Asian and 60 percenteligible for free or reduced lunch. The school achieved 99 percent and 100percent proficiencies on its state test for reading and mathematicsrespectively, as well as 100 percent proficiency for college readiness. The U.S. World and News Report recognizesAmerica’s best high schools based on students’ performance on the state readingand mathematics exams, college readiness index-based participation rates inadvanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, as well as theperformance of students on the national exams. U.S. News also takes inconsideration of those schools that effectively meet the needs of theirstudents or successfully serve all of them well regardless of theirsocio-economic status. Based on U.S. News criteria,DISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted became the top school in the nationfollowed by the School of Science and Engineering claiming the number threeraking. These two schools were selected from 22,000 public schools covering 49states including the District of Columbia. According to DISD InterimSuperintendent of Schools Alan King, “We are honored and proud to have theseschools, once again, recognized as the nation’s best. The students and staff atboth schools make a tremendous effort each day to be the best, and year afteryear, they continue to be rewarded for their dedication.” Principal Michael Satarino of the Schoolfor the Talented and Gifted said, “The entire TAG community – parents, students, faculty, and staff – work hard every year toaccomplish very high academic goals. All of the praise should be given to thestudents who studied so hard, the teachers who instructed them so well, and theparents who supported their efforts to succeed. We are also very pleased thatso many Dallas ISD schools were listed in the rankings and this shows thequality of work produced by all of the schools in the Dallas ISD.” In lieu of highlighting public schoolsthat are plagued by low performance on students on standardized test, it isinspiring to learn of two high performing public schools in the same districtthat consistently prepare students for college and a global and competitiveworkforce. The School for the Talented and Gifted and School of Science andEngineering are excellent models for other schools to benchmark and emulate. Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author oftwo books, “EducationQuestions to be Answered” and “Current Issues and Answers inEducation.”He is the President of The HolmesEducation Post,an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is the National Superintendentof Education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a formerteacher, school administrator, and district superintendent and can be reachedat the following email address: rwh@theholmeseducationpost.com. Hardin-SimmonsUniversity Credits Tuition Freeze with New Student Increase