Dallas ISD’s SPF Has Many Applications

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Photo courtesy Dallas ISD Foster Elementary School will host a open house for parents and community members interested in Spanish language immersion tonight from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Photo courtesy Dallas ISD
Foster Elementary School is, preliminarily, an “Excelling” campus under Dallas ISD’s new School Performance Framework announced recently.

Last week, I wrote about the cockamamie A through F rating system. In a throwaway line, I mentioned talking about vouchers. But before I do that, I need to back up and talk about SPF.

No, not the sunscreen (although you should wear some, my doctor says). This is something that I think gives a much better picture of where your neighborhood school is when it comes to progress.

Now, full disclosure, I’ve known about the School Performance Framework for Campus Success for a couple months now. It was embargoed, so I couldn’t write about it. And I did want to wait to see how everything would shake out with the state ratings, too.

What is the School Performance Framework for Campus Success (or the SPF, as we’ll start calling it for brevity)? It is a rating system designed to give a fuller picture of what your school is really doing. It takes into account several benchmarks to arrive at one of four ratings for a school. 

And if you’re house hunting based on good schools, this is something you’re going to want to take a look at. And if you sell houses, this is something that you’re going to want to take a look at.

The district’s online news site, The Hub, explains: “State accountability ratings paint a limited picture of a school’s success that is largely based on standardized test scores.” The district says the goal of the SPF is to give a snapshot of “the many things that contribute to campus and student success.”

“SPF takes a ‘whole-child’ approach that values a mix of academics, student growth, school culture, and climate,” the district said.

“The framework is far more nuanced and relevant to the everyday experience of public schools than the current A-F rating system,” Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis told me Tuesday. “The tool also places an alternative to the A-F system on the table, a tool that is just as rigorous, more accurate, and developed by people on the ground who actually have to deal with the realities of public education every day.”

“It is my hope that the legislature takes a look at what we have proposed as a possible alternative to a system that in my opinion lacks the critical nuance needed to provide a true assessment of Texas school progress.”

What makes up a school’s SPF rating? The School Effectiveness Index makes up 40 percent of the SPF. This index measures school growth — whether the students are learning regardless of their backgrounds. Systems review, which looks at campus leadership, management, and operations, makes up 20 percent. The state accountability rating makes up 10 percent of the SPF, as does the staff climate survey, parent survey and how well the school addresses chronic student absenteeism.

After crunching the numbers, a school will fall into four categories:

  • Excelling (which means the school is high-performing),
  • Rising (the school is doing well, but has a few things it could work on before becoming Excelling),
  • Developing (the school has strong points, but has multiple areas that need improvement), and
  • Focus (schools that need considerable improvement and a lot of district support).

The official, full SPF reports will be published next fall, based on the 2016-2017 data. But if you’re curious right now (and face it, you’re curious), you can get a gander of preliminary SPFs based on the 2015-2016 data right now by clicking here.

How did your neighborhood school do? I was thrilled to find out that my son’s school has a preliminary SPF of Excelling. And Realtors, think about it — it’s a simple, single, official word to describe each school in the neighborhood. How great is this?

Sound off in the comments. And next week, I promise, we’ll start unpacking the information on vouchers and other school choice discussions.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

Reader Interactions


  1. Carolyn Black says

    Thanks for the update Bethany. I am thrilled with the experience/education my daughter has received at our DISD school. I am glad I have another tool to share with my clients. The bottom line is that I encourage all my clients (especially those new to DFW) to take the tours of the schools and determine the best fit for their child whether it be public or private. BUT the best thing is there are options in public schools in DISD and the choices are growing every year.

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