The Accelerating Campus Excellence initiative (ACE) changes the human capital paradigm in schools by incenting a school district's more effective educators to lead and teach at historically underperforming campuses.
Results from the ACE program have been promising. Over the first four years (2015-2019), of the ACE initiative, 28 of 29 campuses:
The key ingredients to these wins are effective school leaders and teachers. They are game changers for students.
See how teachers in the Richardson ISD are focused on improving student outcomes: Richardson ISD ACE Video.
Data shows that the Texas public education system is inequitable, both in student outcomes and student experiences. Economically disadvantaged students within the Dallas-Fort Worth region and across the state have similar academic outcomes, regardless of the overall affluence of the school district they attend. In some cases, the gap in student outcomes between economically disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers, even within a single school district or campus, can approach 40 percentage points.
One of the most important strategies for overcoming the achievement gap is ensuring that great, effective educators are fairly and equitably allocated across campuses and classrooms. But districts often don't know who the great teachers are. Human capital systems in many school districts do not effectively differentiate between effective and ineffective teachers, despite real differences in areas of strong and weak teaching practices and, most importantly, in student achievement gains. In the Widget Effect, national research found little differential in teacher evaluations, with less than 1% of teachers receiving unsatisfactory ratings. Current systems make it difficult to both identify exceptional teachers and determine how teachers need to improve.
Further, we don't incentivize our best teachers to teach in challenging, critical roles in high-need schools. Within traditional seniority-based compensation systems, there is no financial incentive for an effective educator to take on a more challenging role in an underperforming school because compensation is tied to years of experience and not the effort required for classroom success. As a result, more affluent schools and districts tend to have better prepared, more effective teachers. Those schools also tend to keep teachers longer and employ fewer novice teachers, which usually results in greater student outcomes.
It is imperative that our students of greatest need - those whose starting line in life is far behind their more affluent peers - have equitable access to effective educators and leaders to grow academically, socially and emotionally. It is also imperative that we treat teachers like professionals, experts constantly honing their craft to be excellent, by providing accurate and specific feedback and assessment of their performance.
ACE is a smart first step towards addressing the inequity that exists within our schools. The five core components and commitments of ACE are:
What sets ACE apart from similar initiatives:
ACE has been replicated quickly with great results across multiple districts and in both elementary and middle schools. It is not a "silver bullet" that will instantly improve student achievement, but with effective leadership and thoughtful implementation, ACE can transform schools so they better serve each and every student.
ACE's short-term goal is to ensure that students of the highest need have the most effective educators coupled with a nurturing environment that supports the "whole child." The long-range goal is to establish a way for district leaders to continually identify the teachers and leaders who have a track record of growing student learning, compensate educators making the biggest impact on student achievement more, grow all teachers and leaders, and strategically staff schools with the best-fit educators.
The purpose of this Toolkit is to provide school district leaders with a design and implementation guide to create an ACE initiative in their district. This Toolkit is not meant to be the only resource required to successfully implement an ACE initiative, which requires a significant amount of local context and adaptation. However, the contents that follow provide leaders with an overview of the detailed elements of the ACE program, how it has been implemented in districts to date, and key lessons learned that can support other district leaders in implementing ACE successfully.
This Toolkit was designed by Best in Class, a partnership between Communities Foundation of Texas and the Commit Partnership, dedicated to attracting, preparing, developing, and retaining excellent teachers and school leaders for every child. Best in Class provides technical assistance to many of the ACE districts referenced in this Toolkit. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information and/or support for ACE implementation.
The Toolkit is organized into three stages of implementation. Each stage has action steps or decision points including:
In addition, the ACE community tab offers additional information for ACE campuses, including resources related to convenings/ community of practice meetings.
If you are new to ACE and considering whether or not it is the right strategy for you, please review the Introduction and Getting Started sections. If you have further questions or would like more detailed information, contact email@example.com.
If you are transitioning off of ACE, please see the Continuous Improvement section.
Garland ISD ACE VideoVIEW
Richardson ISD ACE VideoVIEW
Dallas ISD ACE VideoVIEW
ACE Climate and culture survey resultsVIEW
Dallas ISD Best in Class Video (on Facebook)VIEW
Local News Coverage of Dade Middle SchoolVIEW