Dallas, Texas – As students in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) ushered in a new academic year, the district grappled with staffing challenges, underscored by a commitment to ensuring every student has access to a certified teacher. The largest school district in North Texas, DISD confronted its first hurdle in the form of ensuring that every campus was adequately staffed.
Every Dallas ISD student will begin the year with a certified teacher in their classroom
DISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde, in a press briefing earlier in the day, underscored the tireless efforts of the district’s principals, who worked to ensure that every student could begin the year with a certified teacher in their classroom. Elizalde also used the opportunity to set forth the vision for the coming academic year, highlighting a number of key areas where the district plans to shift its focus and priorities.
While emphasizing that reading, writing, and arithmetic remain the cornerstone of academic learning, Elizalde pointed to another triumvirate of guiding principles that the district has identified for the upcoming year: reassurance, reliability, and refocus.
Dallas ISD will focus on three main things this school year: Reassurance, Reliability, and Refocus
Reassurance is taking on new importance in light of the recent passage of a state law mandating the presence of armed security at every school campus. The law, which takes effect on September 1st, requires the district to take on the Herculean task of ensuring armed security presence across 167 elementary schools—a significant expansion beyond the existing officers currently assigned to every middle and high school.
Reliability, meanwhile, comes to the fore as the district works to address a shortage of teachers. With a need for 10,000 teachers to serve the district, DISD is grappling with 71 vacancies, a number that highlights the need for ongoing recruitment efforts.
The district’s third guiding principle—refocus—comes in response to a decision to discontinue assessment of course performance (ACP) tests. In a nod to longstanding concerns about the pernicious effects of “teaching to the test,” Elizalde announced the end of ACP testing. While students will still be required to take the state STAAR exams, and seniors must pass end-of-course tests for graduation, the elimination of ACP tests signals a meaningful shift in instructional priorities.
Dallas ISD still struggles with hiring security officers to meet the state’s security requirements
To address the security mandate, the district is considering hiring Level 3-certified officers if campuses are unable to secure adequate staffing. Elizalde noted that, in the interim, the district will strategically reposition existing officers to ensure a response time of five minutes or less for any elementary school. In another report, Plano ISD also announced that it won’t be able to meet the state’s security requirements by September 1.
When questioned about the district’s strategy for filling teacher vacancies, Elizalde affirmed DISD’s commitment to offering competitive pay, benefits, and incentives to attract educators, reiterating the district’s commitment to ensuring that every student receives the support and instruction they deserve.