After months of planning and community engagement, Dallas ISD’s Office of Transformation and Innovation formally announced its plan to launch its inaugural group of Choice Schools. The district plans for seven Choice Schools to be in this first group: two are being announced today; four were announced last winter; and one has been proposed in the district’s Interim Bridge Plan. As part of its Public School Choice strategy, the district plans to launch a total of 35 new Choice Schools by the year 2020.
The schools announced today are Bryan Adams High School and a brand new, start-up K-8 Young Women’s Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Math (STEAM) Academy. These schools were identified through a competitive proposal process that was open for educators to submit proposals for many types of choice models, including Montessori, Visual and Performing Arts, Leadership, Business & Entrepreneurship, International Baccalaureate (IB), and more. Applicant teams were required to provide evidence that their proposals were aligned with community interests and needs.
“We are encouraged by the participation and excitement around the Public School Choice process,” said Superintendent Mike Miles. “I feel confident that the next round of competitive proposals will produce even more innovative ideas to help improve student achievement.”
The details on the plans for these two Choice Schools are:
- Bryan Adams High School plans to phase-in a school-wide Leadership model designed to produce confident, empathetic, communicative leaders who are prepared to tackle the complex problems of tomorrow. The core feature of the model is that, in sophomore and senior year, all students will take part in a culminating portfolio defense of their leadership skills and academic achievements in front of a committee of educators and community leaders. Bryan Adams would continue to enroll its students from the traditional attendance zone.
- The new K-8 Young Women’s STEAM Academy plans to create a rigorous academic environment to help propel young women to be trailblazers in STEAM-related fields. Also, as a single-gender campus, it will focus specifically on empowerment, social and emotional health, and strength of character. The school would be open enrollment for students district-wide, with a priority application window for those residing within the immediate vicinity. Location is unknown at this time.
Mike Koprowski, Dallas ISD Chief of Transformation and Innovation, said both schools should have a significant positive impact.
“Bryan Adams’ proposal would give students the opportunity to go deeper into their own learning and develop skill-sets for life-long success,” Koprowski said. “The portfolio defense model can be a transformative learning experience for students, pushing them to connect more meaningfully with academic content, to articulate their learning with evidence, and to continually reflect upon what they need to do to keep getting better.”
“The Young Women’s STEAM proposal is exciting because we know that women are significantly under-represented in STEM-related career fields and that young women sometimes encounter false stereotypes about what they can and can’t do in math and science,” Koprowski added. “This school wants to boldly confront those issues by attracting a diverse population of young women and providing them with a world-class education.”
Today’s announcement of plans for the two new Choice Schools follows December’s announcement that four of the seven Choice Schools would launch as Personalized Learning models. Those schools are William C. Cabell Elementary, Dan D. Rogers Elementary, T.C. Marsh Preparatory Academy, and a brand new high school (location is TBD). These schools were identified through a competitive proposal process specifically designed for Personalized Learning, which is an instructional approach focused on transforming the traditional classroom through a “one-size-fits-one” learning model that gives every child what they need in a way that works best for them.
Also, D.A. Hulcy Middle School, which is currently a vacant school building in southwest Dallas, has been identified as a future home for a Choice School in the Interim Bridge Plan, which the Board of Trustees will consider this upcoming Thursday. The administration’s Interim Bridge Plan, in part, proposes innovative solutions for several of the district’s vacant school buildings. According to the plan, Hulcy would be re-opened as a brand new, start-up STEAM Academy, a model for which the community has strongly advocated because of its emphasis on 21st century foundational skill-sets.
The goal of Public School Choice, which is outlined in the Destination 2020 Comprehensive Plan, is to grow the range of options so that all Dallas ISD students can attend a “best-fit school.” “Best-fit schools” are schools where educators can deeply engage students by tapping into their individualities, specific interests, aspirations, and preferred learning styles.
To date, most choice options in Dallas ISD have typically come in the form of Magnet Schools, some of which are among the highest ranked in the nation. However, academic entry requirements and space limitations prevent many students from attending. The new schools created via Public School Choice, including the seven schools in the inaugural group, will not have any academic entry requirements. They will offer the same types of rigorous academic options as magnets, but will be open to all students regardless of academic ability.