Some DISD Students Get Auto-Admission to UNT


UNT Dallas awards admissions to three Dallas ISD high schools | Image by Dallas ISD

The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and the University of North Texas (UNT) at Dallas are entering into a new partnership that will allow graduates of three more DISD campuses to automatically gain conditional admission to the university.

The three campuses included in this deal are David W. Carter High, Justin F. Kimball High, and Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy. All three are located in DISD Trustee Joyce Foreman’s education district.

A fourth campus, Sunset High, had already been selected to participate in the program last month, according to Advocatemag.com.

“We’re excited for this opportunity and we are going to make sure we do everything we can to make this partnership work for our students,” said Foreman, according to a DISD news release.

There were few details about how the arrangement works in the news release other than a brief mention that it will “remove barriers students may face when applying for college.”

The Dallas Express reached out to DISD and asked about some of the specifics. A district spokesperson relayed:

“Oftentimes, the hurdle that students face is not knowing how to start the [college application] process since many students are first-generation [English speakers]. Through this program, students are sent a ‘quick link’ to apply, allowing them to skip the full application process, which can be overwhelming for students without the right guidance.”

According to The Texas Tribune, roughly 45% of DISD students were enrolled in bilingual and English language learning programs during the 2020-2021 school year.

When asked by The Dallas Express how the particular schools were selected, the DISD spokesperson suggested that UNT would be more equipped to answer the question.

Unfortunately, UNT did not respond to our requests for comment, leaving The Dallas Express in the dark as to why those campuses were chosen and what exactly constitutes “conditional admission.”

While some of the partnership’s details remain unclear, the student achievement outcomes of the three schools announced in February are not.

Gilliam Collegiate Academy is one of DISD’s higher-performing campuses, with 76% of its students scoring at grade level on last year’s STAAR exam. It also graduated 100% of its Class of 2022, according to its Texas Education Agency accountability report.

However, the other two schools are seriously struggling to produce acceptable student achievement outcomes, despite the best efforts of their hardworking teachers, begging the question of how academically prepared graduating students from these schools will be to take on college-level work at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

Only 24% of Carter High’s students scored at grade level on the STAAR, and only 82.8% of its Class of 2022 earned a diploma in four years.

For its part, Kimball High failed to graduate almost 25% of its Class of 2022 on time, with only 26% of its students scoring at grade level that school year.

Speaking with Advocatemag.com, Sunset High Principal Jesus Martinez told the news outlet, “I think historically what we have is students that think, ‘Well, I didn’t do too well in high school so a four year college education isn’t my first choice.’ So now I think we’re kind of changing that narrative.”

A LendEDU study published last year found that college dropouts (which constitute about 40% of enrollees), on average, owed over $10,000 in student loans, with roughly half admitting that they were not paying down their debt. Just under half defaulted on their loans.

The Dallas Express asked DISD if the district was at all concerned that it was setting up some of its students to fail, noting that many could end up in debt and without a degree if they could not hack it in college.

The spokesperson relayed, “A little confused on the first part of your question, but in regards to debt, UNT Dallas ranks No.1 among 112 universities in its classification for least student debt, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2020 rankings recently released. Sharing a link to this information here.”

While that may have been true in the 2020 rankings (which looked at students who graduated in 2017), the latest U.S. News & World Report list has UNT Dallas at No.32, with a typical debt load of $18,502.

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Damian LHeureux
Damian LHeureux
25 days ago

Applications and acceptance should be based on Marit alone, otherwise the dropout rate, and kids in debt will continue to rise.

25 days ago

Segregation didnt do anything but lower the bar for good students. Lowering the bar hasn’t done anything but produce under-achievers. One only needs to attend a PTA or meet the teacher night to see how little some parents are involved in their Child’s education. If you want your child to get a good education then put them in private school. The public education system in this country is a complete disaster and the numbers prove that.