First, a spot of good news: Hillcrest High School has climbed off the Texas Education Agency's annual list of low-performing schools. So have two other Dallas ISD schools, Francisco Medrano Middle School and John W. Runyon Elementary.
Now for the depressing news: twenty-five DISD schools took their place, leaving the district with a state-leading 57 failing schools. Houston ISD, Texas' largest school district, has 54.
DISD appeared to be in full ass-covering mode when the list was released yesterday, downplaying the significance of the figures while stressing that the district is working hard to improve struggling campuses.
"We're not going to get into comparisons," DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander told The Dallas Morning News. "We're focused on what we need to do to improve our schools' performance, particularly those that are new to the list this year."
In this case, DISD's reluctance to "get into comparisons" is justified. This year's list includes 892 campuses statewide, almost double the 456 found wanting last year. This isn't because schools somehow became twice as bad as last year; it's because this is the first year the STAAR test, much tougher than the TAKS test that preceded it, was fully taken into account.
With that in mind, it can be argued that DISD made strides over last year, at least in relative terms. Last year, DISD schools comprised 7.7 percent of statewide failures. This year, the figure is 6.4 percent. And since we are going to be making comparisons, it's worth pointing out that Houston's tally of under-performing campuses tripled over the past year, from 18 to 54.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.