What makes two of Dallas Independent Schools the top in the nation?

Posted by Ronald | May 20, 2012  |  No Comment

More than two-thirds of new jobs require some postsecondary education according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. With America’s students not taking enough advanced courses in chemistry and physics compared to industrialized countries, much is written about the mediocrity of its schools’ performance on standardized test such as the 2009 administration of the Program for International Student Assessment. For instance, the U.S. ranked 25th in mathematics, 17th in science and 14th in reading out of 34 countries.

However, little is written about high performing schools that consistently prepare students for college and a global and competitive workforce. To gain an understanding of the commitment and characteristics of high performing schools, the question to be asked is: What makes two of Dallas Independent School District’s schools (DISD) the top in the nation?

DISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted places emphasis on the advanced placement curriculum requiring its students to take a minimum of 11 advanced placement courses for graduation. With an enrollment of 229 high school students (40 percent White, 30 percent Hispanic, 20 percent African-American, 10 percent Asian and 32 percent eligible for free or reduced lunch), the School for the Talented and Gifted also affords its students the opportunity for field research through partnerships with local universities. With college-level course work being the benchmark, the school achieved 100 percent proficiency on its state test for reading and mathematics, as well as 100 percent proficiency for college readiness as measured by student participation rates in advanced placement and international baccalaureate exams, as well as pass rates on the exams.

DISD’s School of Science and Engineering allows its students to take advanced placement courses their freshman year and affords them the opportunity to earn college credits through dual enrollment with local community colleges and universities. The School of Science and Engineering has 407 high school students of which 57 percent are Hispanic, 18 percent African-American, 16 percent White, eight percent Asian and 60 percent eligible for free or reduced lunch. The school achieved 99 percent and 100 percent proficiencies on its state test for reading and mathematics respectively, as well as 100 percent proficiency for college readiness.

The U.S. World and News Report recognizes America’s best high schools based on students’ performance on the state reading and mathematics exams, college readiness index-based participation rates in advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, as well as the performance of students on the national exams. U.S. News also takes in consideration of those schools that effectively meet the needs of their students or successfully serve all of them well regardless of their socio-economic status.

Based on U.S. News criteria, DISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted became the top school in the nation followed by the School of Science and Engineering claiming the number three raking. These two schools were selected from 22,000 public schools covering 49 states including the District of Columbia. According to DISD Interim Superintendent of Schools Alan King, “We are honored and proud to have these schools, once again, recognized as the nation’s best. The students and staff at both schools make a tremendous effort each day to be the best, and year after year, they continue to be rewarded for their dedication.”

Principal Michael Satarino of the School for the Talented and Gifted said, “The entire TAG (Talented and Gifted) community – parents, students, faculty, and staff – work hard every year to accomplish very high academic goals. All of the praise should be given to the students who studied so hard, the teachers who instructed them so well, and the parents who supported their efforts to succeed. We are also very pleased that so many Dallas ISD schools were listed in the rankings and this shows the quality of work produced by all of the schools in the Dallas ISD.”

Speaking on behalf of the School of Science and Engineering, Principal Jovan Grant-Wells said, “It is an honor to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best public high schools in the nation. Of course, without the outstanding students, our dedicated teachers, supportive parents and community members, this accomplishment would not be possible.”

In lieu of highlighting public schools that are plagued by low performance of students on standardized test, it is inspiring to learn of two high performing public schools in the same district that consistently prepare students for college and a global and competitive workforce. The School for the Talented and Gifted and School of Science and Engineering are excellent models for other schools to benchmark and emulate.

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of two books, “Education Questions to be Answered” and “Current Issues and Answers in Education.” He is the President of The Holmes Education Post, an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is the National Superintendent of Education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a former teacher, school administrator, and district superintendent and can be reached at the following email address: [email protected]

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