From providing additional resources and support to identified campuses and offering culturally relevant classes and activities–to collaborating with the community and reducing out-of-school suspensions–district leaders briefed trustees on the many steps Dallas ISD is taking to address racial equity across the district.
“We want to acknowledge the progress that has been made in regards to racial equity, while also recognizing the gaps that remain,” Chief of Staff Pam Lear told trustees. “This work is critical and it will take time and commitment. “
Trustees approved a racial equity policy last summer to strengthen the district’s socio-economic and educational parity for all students. The district then established the Racial Equity Office last year to enact that policy.
At Thursday’s briefing, Lear and Racial Equity Office Deputy Chief Leslie Williams started by detailing the historical progress made by Dallas ISD:
- Strong achievement growth: Per STAAR across all grades, Dallas ISD has grown proficiency faster since 2012 than both the state and almost all of its urban peers for all students as well as its major student populations (e.g. low income, African Americans, and English learners)
- Reduction in underperforming schools: Since 2014, Dallas ISD has reduced the number of students enrolled in an “Improvement Required” campus from 19 percent of all students to 1 percent. The IR campuses were disproportionately African American.
- Strong growth in four-year high school graduation rates for students of color since 2011;
- Strong growth in early childhood education for students of color since 2012.
Williams then detailed the actions taken by the Racial Equity Office the past school year, which included working toward programmatic and instructional equity and launching and growing internal and external community partnerships.
As part of that effort to ensure instructional equity, the Racial Equity Office and district implemented the Funds for Achievement and Racial Equity (FARE) program to provide additional resources to 17 of the most at-need schools.
Going forward, Williams and Lear said they are gathering and examining equity-related data and determining goals for the upcoming school year. The district also plans to grow the FARE program to provide additional support to 23 schools, while building on this school year’s efforts and gains from the Racial Equity Office.
“We will tirelessly work until all students, no matter their zip code or ethnicity, have equal access to resources and opportunities to succeed,” Williams said.