Dallas ISD turns attention to its ‘last frontier’: lifting school performance at middle schools

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After successfully growing high-quality pre-K for early learners and opening new collegiate academies for high school students, Dallas ISD is turning its attention to “the last frontier”: middle school.

A new initiative would bring strategies proven to lift school performance–strategic staffing, instructional excellence, social and emotional support, extended learning and supportive partnerships–to 24 Dallas ISD middle schools. Dallas ISD Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde briefed trustees on the plan at the March board briefing.

“We are not providing what we need to be providing to our middle school students,” Elizalde said. “We are going to work with these schools and provide additional resources and support to ensure our students are being best prepared for success.”

As principal of D.A. Hulcy STEAM Middle School, Jonica Crowder-Lockwood has seen how pivotal the middle school years are for students. Hulcy STEAM Middle School reopened to great success in 2015 and has since become a “Gold Ribbon” school, according to a Children at Risk report.

“Middle school is a stage of discovery. Students are figuring out what they like to do and who they are,” Crowder-Lockwood said. “It’s great that Dallas ISD is focusing on these years so we can guide our kids into success in high school and beyond.”

The initiative would cost about $10 million to implement. Elizalde said the funds would be available if Texas lawmakers approve House Bill 3 to increase funding for public schools. If House Bill 3 does not pass, Elizalde said district leaders and trustees could discuss what to potentially cut to free up the funding.

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