For too many years, Dallas had a typical early literacy story, one made more challenging by the inequitable effects of poverty. Despite a local economy and job market that are consistently among the strongest in the nation, Dallas also has the third-highest rate of child poverty in the US.1 Dallas ISD, the largest school district in Dallas County and one of the largest in the nation, serves predominantly low-income students. Nearly 90% of Dallas ISD’s 154,000 students are economically disadvantaged. Like many large urban school districts around the country, Dallas ISD's early literacy results were stagnant.

Yet Dallas ISD is fighting back against the literacy crisis through sustained investment in early learning, forging a path that others can learn from to improve reading outcomes at scale. This effort to rewrite the early literacy story in Dallas, taken on incrementally over a number of years, has resulted in notable progress so far. Since 2015, the district has seen the number of third graders reading on grade level increase from 28% to 40%. While there is still more work to be done, this 12 percentage-point growth in the last four years is three times that of the state of Texas overall, outpaces all other large urban school districts in Texas, and reflects progress across demographics, income levels, and language. To put this into perspective, this means that more than 3,250 additional children have been put on track for success since 20152, dramatically increasing their likelihood of academic success and future opportunities for themselves and for the economy of Dallas.

These results [in third grade reading] over the past several years have been incredible. Dallas ISD has become the standard for how an urban district can turn around its results.”
Kimberly Manns, Executive Director of  Early Matters Dallas, an organization committed to improving early learning outcomes in Dallas County


Nearly 90% of Dallas ISD's 154,000 students are economically disadvantaged

These outcomes are even more exciting when taking into account Dallas ISD’s scale and the high rate of economic disadvantage among its student population. In 2019, more than 1,100 additional Dallas ISD third graders were reading on grade level than would be predicted based on the district’s high rate of economic disadvantage, a greater positive impact than any other district in Texas.3

Dallas ISD's results are noteworthy, demonstrating consistent growth despite challenges. They are the product of an intentional, multi-year, collaborative effort to establish the right conditions for success in early learning.
Watch the Video to Learn how Dallas ISD is Rewriting the Story for Early Learners

Learn more about how Dallas ISD and the community established the conditions for success.

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