DISD Super Discusses State of the District

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde
Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde | Image by Dallas ISD/Facebook

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde gave a speech that was equal parts optimistic about Dallas ISD’s future and critical of Texas lawmakers’ opting not to increase taxpayer spending on public education.

Dallas ISD held its 2024 State of the District dinner on April 4 at the Omni Dallas Hotel. At the event, “Teachers of the Year” and “Principals of the Year” were celebrated, and the modest gains in student achievement and college-career readiness were touted.

“We are the economic engine of the Dallas-Fort Worth area because we are developing not just the workforce of tomorrow, but the leaders as well,” Elizalde said, referring to the district’s Career Institutes and dual-credit opportunities, per The Dallas Morning News.

However, the latest available Texas Education Agency accountability report for Dallas ISD shows a score of 59 out of 100 in terms of meeting College, Career, and Military Readiness criteria. This information dates to the 2021-2022 school year due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by several Texas school districts — Dallas ISD included — that have kept accountability data under wraps.

In response, Dallas ISD officials have been striving to boost career pathways for students, including offering hands-on training for high-demand jobs, such as dentistry, cybersecurity, construction, automotive technology, and more, as covered by The Dallas Express. The district has also garnered new partnerships, such as the Curbside Delights program offered through Intuit, which gives career and technical education students a food truck to run.

Suggesting that hundreds of Dallas ISD students would be graduating with associate degrees, Elizalde celebrated recent improvements in academic performance. She pointed out how the district’s School for the Talented and Gifted, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, and Marvin E. Robinson School of Business and Management recently made it into Children at Risk’s ranking of the top five high school slots in the state.

Alongside these accolades, however, several Dallas ISD campuses — including W. T. White, Wilmer-Hutchins, and Justin F. Kimball — fared considerably worse in Children at Risk’s assessment. South Oak Cliff High School, which DX recently highlighted in its Bad Apple series, received an F rating and placed at No.1,238 in the ranking.

Students’ performances on the STAAR were heavily influenced by these assessments, with only 41% of Dallas ISD students scoring at grade level on the exams in the 2021-2022 school year. Moreover, nearly 20% of graduating seniors did not obtain a diploma within four years despite the hard work of the district’s dedicated teachers and principals.

Nevertheless, Elizalde’s message during the event was optimistic regarding Dallas ISD’s future and ability to continue progressing academically. To this end, a new standardized curriculum will be introduced at all district campuses next year, she said.

As covered by The Dallas Express, Dallas ISD is projecting a $1.9 billion budget next year — including over $20 million earmarked for these new teaching materials. Like many publicly funded school systems, the district expects a considerable shortfall if student enrollment figures continue to shrink and the state allotment per student remains at its 2019 level of $6,160.

During her speech, Elizalde criticized lawmakers at length, claiming they failed to boost taxpayer spending on public education amid rising inflation while continuing to pass costly mandates.

“Did the Texas Legislature fully fund all the new safety requirements that they so intelligently wrote into law? No,” Elizalde said, referring to the new law requiring an armed guard be stationed at every publicly funded campus, per DMN. “Did we make our schools safer than ever anyway? Yes.”

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article