Dallas ISD's Long and Winding Road to Broad Prize Just Hit a Dead End

Perhaps you've seen the promotional materials -- they've been everywhere during the past five years, as the Dallas Independent School District (and superintendent Michael Hinojosa, especially) eased on down that Road to Broad, so named for the $2 million award given to urban school districts who made "the greatest progress in America in raising student achievement." The Dallas Achieves! Commission was appointed in January '06 in order to secure the prize, and three years ago, as the district was attempting to pull onto the Road to Broad's on-ramp, even the Dallas City Council was briefed on the district's five-year plan to up test scores and graduation rates while shrinking so-called ethnic and income "achievement gaps."

But this morning, the five finalists for the 2010 Broad Prize were announced -- and the DISD is not among the contenders. The The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation notes a "strong showing by southern states," but the two Texas districts that made the cut were in El Paso: the Socorro Independent School District and the Ysleta Independent School District. A Texas ISD did take the top prize last year: Aldine Independent School District, which is in Harris County.

Update at 9:30 a.m.: I asked DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander if there was any statement from the district concerning this morning's announcement. His response -- more or less a compendium of strides made by the district in recent years -- follows.

Dahlander responds:

The percentage of Dallas ISD students passing the TAKS exam has improved each of the last five years, from 67% five years ago to now close to 80%.

Better than that, the percentage of Dallas ISD students passing at levels considered college and work force ready has increased each of the last five years.

There are now 46 exemplary schools in Dallas ISD, up more than triple from 2007.  The number of recognized schools is now up to 82. There were 33 in 2007. That's a total of 128 Dallas ISD schools rated either exemplary or recognized, the most in school district history.

3 of those Recognized schools are comprehensive high schools in Oak Cliff -Adamson, Molina and Sunset. That's the first time that Dallas ISD comprehensive high schools have received that recognition.

Last year, 4 district schools were named Blue Ribbon Schools-Hexter Elementary, Peabody Elementary, George Bannerman Dealey Montessori and Health Professions Magnet.

2 more district schools have been nominated for Blue Ribbon awards in 2010: H.S. Thompson Elementary and James Bonham Elementary.

TAG and Science and Engineering continue to be named #1 and #2 high schools in the country by Newsweek, #5 and #7 by U.S. News and World Report (Law Magnet, Business Magnet, Education and Social Services Magnet, Health Professions and Middle College also noted by USN&R)

11 Dallas ISD schools were named to Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) Honor Roll.

Nathan Adams Elementary was just named one of only 13 schools in the country to receive the National Center for Urban School Transformation Award.  Bonham Elementary School was one of only 12 schools in the country to receive the same award for the 2008-2009 school year. William F. Cabell Elementary was named to the NCUST Honor Roll.

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts won the State Mock Trial Competition a couple weeks ago and is headed to the national finals.  Skyline High School won the State Mock Trial Competition last year.

Woodrow Wilson High School was selected as one of four Texas candidate schools for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Woodrow was also the only Dallas ISD comprehensive high school to win the ACT College Readiness Award from the Texas ACT Council.

Here's what others from throughout the country are saying about Dallas ISD:

Council of Great City Schools: June 2009-says Dallas ISD's "academic gains have been some of the most impressive in the country, and the district is now viewed as one of the nation's fastest improving urban school systems."

"Dallas ISD has improved more than any other urban district in Texas and more than all but one urban district in the country in narrowing the achievement gap." 
Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution, February 2009

Within the past 3 years, Dallas ISD has received grants of more than $1 million apiece from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and NASA.

Thanks to incredibly dedicated teachers and principals, hard work by students and their parents, Dallas ISD continues to make academic progress each year. We congratulate the school districts named as Broad Finalists because it shows that Dallas is not the only urban school district improving the academic performance of its students.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky