Dallas ISD Kicks Off 'ACE' Plan in Hopes of Improving Some of Its Worst Schools

Mike Miles
Mike Miles
Mark Graham

Dallas ISD will extend the school day, offer thousands of dollars in relocation incentives to staff and install new grading policies in an effort to close the achievement gap at six district schools deemed "Improvement Required" campuses by the Texas Education Agency,.

Beginning with the fall 2015 semester, instructors classified as "Distinguished Teachers" by Dallas ISD will be offered $12,000 to move to Annie Webb Blanton Elementary, Roger Q. Mills Elementary, Elisha M. Pease Elementary, Umphrey Lee Elementary, Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center or Sarah Zumwalt Middle School as part of the program, with higher bonuses offered to administrators handpicked to oversee the chosen schools.

"Students at our lowest-performing schools, like similar schools nationwide, must have many effective teachers to be successful," Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles said in announcing the program. "The ACE program will help ensure that students who are struggling have more of our most effective teachers supporting them."

Each ACE school will extend its school day by an hour. The schools will also remain open until 6 p.m. and serve dinner to allow students to stay at school and complete homework -- which is certainly what Unfair Park wanted to do when it was in middle school. Simply failing an assignment at an 'ACE' school will not be acceptable, according to Dallas ISD. Students submitting failing work will be required to resubmit their assignments.

Current teachers at the schools who hope to stay must be going through Dallas ISD's distinguished teacher review process. Miles instituted DTR last fall, hoping to evaluate teachers based on performance, rather than service time or advanced degrees. Groups representing Dallas teachers were skeptical of the plan of the plan at the time, because they didn't believe the review process would be administered fairly.

Current teachers at the schools who are not participating in the DTR process will have the opportunity to pursue jobs at other Dallas ISD schools, according to the district. Parents who don't want to send their kids to an ACE school will have the option of sending their kids elsewhere via district-provided transportation.

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