Educators at Dallas ISD’s Pinkston High School have turned the campus around with a new program offering a wider range of lessons for kids. It’s been such a big improvement that other schools are looking at making similar changes.
Just seven years ago, Pinkston High School was almost shut down for good. After being labeled “academically unacceptable,” the chronically failing school had to do something. Wednesday's visit by district leaders from across the state may prove that ‘something’ is finally paying off.
Today at Pinkston's Preparatory Collegiate Academy, about 100 students are on a specialized career path like information technology, providing another option to popular magnet schools.
But the academy exists within Pinkston High School to help boost test scores and graduation rates. Students earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from El Centro College.
“I believe there probably was a little bit of apprehension because Pinkston was a school that struggled academically,” explained Usamah Rodgers, DISD Asst. Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives & External Relationships. “But for the past three years, the school has been turning around, and I think the early college program has just elevated that.”
About two dozen DISD schools have similar academies, but Pinkston's is a top performer.
Freshman Mia Mendez is exactly the kind of student the academies want to reach: driven to succeed, first in their families to go to college and drawn by two years of free college tuition.
“Many people in the area are like, ‘We can't go to college. We can't afford it.’ And that's usually advice they grew up having,” Mia said. “But this will give them the chance and hope that they need.”
Pinkston's past made the academy a tricky sell for some parents but later found it to be just the right fit.
“That was my mom's biggest concern before she came here. Me just saying Pinkston, she didn't feel comfortable,” said student Michael Denicola. “It's amazing. You couldn't get that anywhere else.”