Perhaps one of the most famous cities in the state of Texas, Dallas has many things to recommend it. From the beautiful downtown architecture to the Dallas Cowboys football team, it seems that everything Dallas is wonderful. This includes the Dallas Schools.
Dallas Schools honored 13 schools as “exemplary” and 67 as “recognized” this past February, at an IBM Corporation-sponsored dinner. No other urban school district in Texas had a larger number of exemplary and recognized schools in 2006. In order to be rated exemplary, 90% of all students in Dallas Schools must pass all subject areas of the TAKS, officially known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test. To earn a “recognized” status, 70% of all students in Dallas Schools must pass all subject areas. “The students, teachers, administrators, and parents who worked hard to achieve these high Texas Education Agency rankings deserve applause and congratulations,” said Dallas Schools’ General Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “They are an inspiration to all of us.”
Improvements continue to multiply throughout Dallas Schools. This past February, additional funding was received from a new arts coalition that will allow for 140 new certified music and art teachers. These teachers will be hired by the Dallas Schools’ district over the next 6 years, including 60 who have already been hired. And by 2009 the district plans to have all Elementary Dallas Schools offering 45 minutes of art and music each week. The Wallace Foundation, one of the members of this arts coalition, will give $8 million during the next three years to Big Thought. Big Thought is a Dallas-based nonprofit arts group, which will help establish the Dallas Arts Learning Initiative. This initiative seeks to increase the amount and quality of arts education students in Dallas Schools will receive.
In addition, the Dallas Schools’ Talented and Gifted magnet and the School of Science and Engineering have been named the two top high schools in the country by Newsweek Magazine. It is the second straight year that the Talented and Gifted magnet (TAG) has earned the honor. “This is a credit to everyone involved with both schools,” said Hinojosa. “These schools are setting the example for others in both the district and the rest of the nation.” The Science and Engineering magnet (SEM) moved from 8th on the list last year to 2nd in 2006. Also, during the last five years, the Dallas Schools’ Science and Engineering magnet has been the number one in the nation for minorities passing Calculus AB and BC exams regardless of size, and the number one school in the world for students passing Calculus AB. “This is the accumulation of several years of extraordinary work by the students and staff affiliated with the school,” said SEM principal Richard White. “We have had a healthy competition for years with the TAG Magnet, and now that both schools are named the best in the county, everyone has benefited, especially the students.”
Indeed, Dallas Schools are something to get excited about. From efforts to expand services at the elementary level, to nationally and globally recognized schools, the opportunities abound for the students of Dallas Schools. In an era of budget cuts and high-stakes testing, Dallas Schools show some remarkable successes.