Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE)

 ACE is an equity driven initiative that seeks to incentivize a school district’s most effective educators to lead and teach at historically underperforming campuses plagued by large achievement gaps by student family income and/or race, or that failed to meet state accountability standards. The goal is to ensure the students of highest need have the most effective educators, and a nurturing environment that supports the whole child.

Key Objectives

There are five core components to the ACE initiative:


1. Effective Teachers & Educators

  • Campuses reconstituted and strategically staffed to include effective principal and teaching staff, as identified by a track record of student growth and, where available, a rigorous, multi-measure evaluation system
  • ACE educators are each provided an annual stipend ($10,000 for teachers and $15,000 for principals) for three years to honor the extra time, dedication and expertise they must bring to the campus to help students get caught up and to ensure the school becomes a place of pride for the community with the results to prove it
  • All educators receive targeted and differentiated professional development
  • Educators are selected to work on ACE campuses in part for their deep commitment and passion for serving students carrying the biggest burdens

2. Instructional Excellence

  • Focus on data analysis and professional learning communities
  • Specified planning and collaboration time for teachers in grade level and subject alike settings
  • A culture of frequent observation, coaching and feedback

3. Extended Learning

  • Extra hour embedded into the instructional day, specifically for reading and math interventions
  • Each ACE campus remains open until 6:00 pm to extend learning time and provide extra-curricular options for all students
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served to all students

4. Social and Emotional Support

  • Emphasis on creating and maintaining positive relationships between adults and students
  • Reduction of student suspensions and disciplinary issues through restorative justice practices
  • ACE campuses strive to find ways, both big and small, to help school become a place of great joy for all students (examples include celebrations of learning, field trips, incentives, etc.)

5. Parent and Community Partnerships

  • Increased communication protocols between educators and parents/community members
  • New partnerships with community organizations providing wrap-around services, including, but not limited to, faith based organizations, municipal/city organizations, charities, and early education programs
  • Campus beautification efforts both externally and internally

The Challenge


Low-poverty campuses attract a more experienced and effective candidate pool than their high-poverty campuses counterpoints.


Seniority based compensation fails to account for teachers taking on more challenges, hence high-poverty campuses inevitably lose more retention battles than they win.


As poverty levels increase, districts reflect more teachers who are new to profession and also reflect higher teacher turnover, collectively reducing achievement for low income students.

Current Focus

Fort Worth ISD Leadership Academies

Fort Worth ISD launched its Leadership Academies in the 2017-2018 school year, modeled on ACE. Results of year one of implementation have been strong, with Leadership Academies significantly out-pacing district growth in both reading and math for 5th and 8th grade. Of particular note, John T. White Elementary School, which was on the state’s improvement required list since the day its doors opened, experienced a 25 percentage point gain in 5th grade reading and a 34 percentage point gain in 5th grade mathLearn more about Leadership Academies here.

Garland ISD ACE

Two Garland ISD schools – Handley Elementary School and Lyles Middle School – implemented ACE in the summer of 2018 for the 2018-19 school year. Learn more about Garland ISD’s ACE program here.

Dallas ISD ACE

Dallas ISD developed ACE and launched it in the 2015-2016 school year to turn around seven of its most perpetually challenged schools. In just two years – by the end of the 2017-2018 school year – ACE 1.0 students had made 40 percentage point gains in reading and 67 percentage point gains in math and in ACE 2.0, students achieved significant growth in reading and double digit gains in math. The schools all but eliminated their reading achievement gap with the district and exceeded the district in math achievement. Dallas ISD has since planned for a launch of a third ACE cohort, which is expected to also see strong resultsLearn more about Dallas ISD ACE here.


Richardson ISD ACE

Four Richardson ISD schools – Carolyn Bukhair Elementary, Forest Lane Academy, RISD Academy, and Thurgood Marshall Elementary – implemented ACE in the summer of 2018 for the 2018-19 school year.  Watch Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone present ACE to the RISD Board of Trustees and learn more about Richardson ISD ACE here.

Best in Class has played a pivotal role supporting districts in the design/ implementation phases of Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) through engaging with key district leaders and bringing together practitioners from other ACE districts to be collective thought partners.

The Best in Class team serves as a resource for district leaders after year one, including:

  • Consulting with District leadership on ACE initiative design, project planning, and ongoing support leading to the first day of school.

  • Facilitation of the ACE Learning Community, which gathers districts to discuss key ACE implementation topics from Curriculum & Instruction to Human Resources. Meetings are held at current ACE campuses, allowing time for districts to tour schools and create a community of learning and continuous improvement.

  • Conducting data analysis for campus selection and effective teacher and campus leader identification through an analysis of absolute and relative growth performance.

  • Sharing and enhancing the ACE Toolkit, which serves as a warehouse of implementation resources (developed by Best in Class as well as from participating districts): Communication materials, curriculum documents, human resources processes and logistical implementation timelines.

  • Ongoing support to key district leaders via communications and planning meetings.

  • Identifying opportunities for grants and external philanthropic support for ACE from identifying grants and philanthropic donors to aligning private resources to supplement public investments.

ACE Results to Date

Dallas ISD:

3 out of 4 ACE 1.0 Elementary Schools achieved 40+ percentage point gains in math.

Blanton Elementary gained 67 percentage points and now outperforms elementary schools in one of the highest performing districts in the State, with zero poverty (Highland Park ISD).

All ACE 1.0 Elementary Schools achieved double digit gains in reading, including two exceeding 35 percentage point gains.

All three ACE 1.0 Middle Schools achieved 30+ percentage point gains in math.

All five ACE 2.0 Elementary Schools achieved double digit gains in math, with three exceeding 20 percentage point gains, and one with a 50 percentage point gain.

4 out of 5 ACE 2.0 Elementary Schools achieved upwards of 23 percentage point gains in reading.

The one ACE 2.0 Middle School achieved 13 and 32 percentage point gains respectively in reading and math.

All ACE campuses are expected to Meet Standard. 

Fort Worth ISD:

All Leadership Academies are expected to Meet Standard after year one of initiative.

In 5th and 8th Grade, Leadership Academies growth exceeded the district in Math and Reading, effectively closing the achievement gap in 8th grade reading and math.

View detailed results here.

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Initiative Leaders:

Betsy Cook

Deputy Director at Communities Foundation of Texas, Best in Class

Garrett Landry

Strategic Advisor, Best in Class


Please contact Betsy or Garrett to learn more:

Betsy Cook:

Garrett Landry: