By the Numbers: Few Black Students Leave DISD College-Ready

Only three out of every 100 black students in Dallas Independent School District graduate ready for college. Among black students entering DISD high schools as freshmen, 28 percent don't graduate at all.

Those are some of the findings in a report DISD District 9 trustee Bernadette Nutall passed on to Unfair Park, called the "State of African-American Students in Dallas Independent School District and the Dallas Community," which she compiled the report in February shortly after she voted to close 11 schools in the city.

"I did it [the report] for my community because it's my community that's upset about the consolidation of schools," Nutall says. "I'm concerned about who's educating and how we're educating our kids. I want to start the conversation of educating all our children."

Nutall hasn't been going around flogging the report, butlast week, DISD District 2 trustee Mike Morath presented her numbers when he was a panelist at the Urban League's forum on the "State of Black Education in Dallas."

Unfair Park spoke to Matt Houston, president of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, who attended the forum. He was "floored" by the findings, he says.

The one statistic that stood out to Houston was that three out of 100 black students graduate college ready from high school in four years.

"It was definitely a downer," Houston continued. "It's a sad number to hear, but we need to hear that. It's good information."

The numbers don't improve much across Dallas County, either. Countywide, only 4 percent of African-American students graduated from high school in 2010 after four years with college ready SAT or ACT scores. This matches a 4 percent rate for Latino students. Thirty-two percent of white students graduate from Dallas County high schools in four years with college ready scores, as well as 39 percent students who identify as "other" races or ethnicity (Asian, Native American, etc.).

The obvious question, of course, is why Dallas is failing for all its students, but especially its black and brown ones.

"I don't know," Nutall admits. "It's been that way for years. We've been trying to close the achievement gap. Those are the conversations we want to have."

So how do we make it better?

"We need to make sure we have great people teaching our children," Nutall says. Then, "We look at the data, then we have a conversation around the data. You need money to teach students. Over the last two years, the state cut us $100 million."

Nutall is also aggregating data for the DISD Latino population.

"I'm a data person," Nutall says. "I'm looking at the data. The achievement gap is widening."

Morath says the study shocked and depressed him, but also imbued him with a sense of urgency.

In an email, he wrote, "What we're doing now MUST change."

Black Students in DISD

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