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  • Michael Dryden, PhD and Lori Kirkpatrick

ACE is the place for hardware, but for DISD schools maybe not so much.

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

The ACE program is being heralded by Dallas ISD and by some in the business community as a successful program to remove struggling schools from the status of Improvement Required (IR). An independent analysis revealed something different.

Dallas ISD has two treatment programs for IR campuses, ACE and ISN (Intensive Support Network). Both the ACE and ISN programs provide extra resources to the campuses, and additionally ACE campuses have a longer school day and are staffed with highly effective teachers as designated by the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI). We’ve evaluated 7 ACE campuses, 18 ISN campuses, and 17 IR campuses without any treatment program.

For 5th and 8th grade reading and math, we found that the ACE elementary schools outperformed the ISN elementary schools and the ISN middle schools slightly outperformed the ACE middle schools. Upon further investigation the success of ACE in the elementary campuses is almost entirely defined by the performance of students at two schools. Put another way, in 5 of the 7 ACE campuses the performance of students did not exceed the performance of similar ISN campuses to any meaningful extent and suggests it is premature to tout ACE as a success, and premature to attribute ACE success due to the movement of exemplary TEI teachers to the ACE campuses.

Rather, the results of both ACE and ISN campuses compared to other IR campuses indicate extra resources have an impact on student performance at these low performing campuses.

The two ACE campuses that did show outstanding performance need to be further studied and those students need to be tracked to see if the performance is sustained. The cumulative grade at each campus was examined (grades 5 and 8) so that immediate follow through into middle and high school could check for sustained knowledge with district and state assessments.

The solution may not be related to naïve data analysis but to teachers who understand and address the learning needs of their students.

The cost of these programs is significantly different. The Dallas Morning News reported that ACE implementation at 6 campuses was $5.4 million (1). DISD reported the cost of ISN implementation at 17 campuses was $2.2 million (2).

Read the full report here.



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