Dade Middle School to receive additional support as ACE campus

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Dallas ISD announced today that Billy Earl Dade Middle School will receive significantly more support next year by naming it as an ACE (Accelerating Campus Excellence) school beginning in 2015–16.

Dade will join six other schools previously designated as ACE campuses.

The addition of Dade follows strong positive interest in the ACE concept from members of the community and a high level of interest from district educators. The ACE plan injects underperforming schools with strong leadership, effective teachers and high expectations.

“When it comes to school transformation, we know that the larger the percentage of effective teachers in the school and the stronger the leadership team, the greater the chance of turning a struggling school around,” Superintendent Mike Miles said. “That’s the focus of the ACE plan.”

Students at ACE schools will receive an additional hour of instruction each day, as well as be able to remain at the school until 6 p.m. daily in order to complete homework or attend tutoring sessions.

The ACE plan provides a financial incentive of up to $12,000 to the district’s high-performing teachers who voluntarily transfer to teach at an ACE campus. The inaugural ACE recruitment fair held in early April proved a success, with nearly every position at the original six ACE campuses having already been staffed. A second ACE teacher recruitment fair will be held in the next few weeks.

“We’ve seen a tremendous level of support from high-performing teachers to voluntarily teach at an ACE campus,” said Ashley Bryan, Dallas ISD Director of Planning and Special Projects. “Since announcing the initial six ACE schools, we’ve already filled a majority of the ACE teaching positions. Given this high level of commitment, we are highly confident we will be able to staff Dade with the same caliber of effective teachers who are committed to improving student success.”

District teachers have been enthusiastic about the opportunity to go in groups to low-performing campuses to help improve schools.

“It seems like it would be a worthwhile challenge,” said Hasani Wilburn, a third-grade math teacher who attended the first recruitment fair. “The work won’t be easy, but it will be needed to get the students to where they need to go.”

Dade Middle School and the six other ACE schools had previously been designated by the Texas Education Agency as Improvement Required. In October, some staff changes were made at Dade to begin to stabilize the learning environment. Naming it as an ACE school now positions Dade to complete that change well in advance of the beginning of the next school year.

“We knew when changes were made at Dade in October that more would eventually be needed,” Deputy Superintendent Ann Smisko said. “It is impossible to make anything more than an adjustment during the middle of the school year. Naming Dade as an ACE school is a significant increase in our efforts to help students reach their maximum potential.”

As part of the transition to being an ACE campus, Tracie Washington, the current principal at Seagoville Middle School, will lead Dade Middle School as principal next year.

The other ACE campuses for the 2015–16 school year are:

  • Annie Webb Blanton Elementary
  • Roger Q. Mills Elementary
  • Elisha M. Pease Elementary
  • Umphrey Lee Elementary
  • Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center
  • Sarah Zumwalt Middle School

The ACE campuses share the same characteristics: The significant need to improve academic performance and the opportunity to accelerate academic growth.

Miles said that the ACE plan is built on the three factors proven to improve any school: effective teachers, effective leadership, and high expectations.

“We know the challenges of struggling schools,” Miles said. “The question is can we do anything about it? The answer is yes we can, and we are. This is an opportunity to do the hard work and substantive changes necessary to make these schools successful.”

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