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Dallas ISD Wants All Seniors Back In School To Improve Graduation Rates

Dallas ISD

The Dallas school district wants every senior back in class, every day, for in-person learning, till the end of the year — beginning Monday. Too many kids have been missing out on instruction.

With just nine weeks of school left in Dallas, the district’s Deputy Chief of School Leadership, Mark Ramirez, fears if nothing changes, too many kids won’t graduate. He said in the pandemic, many seniors suffered by learning online. The district says one out of every five high schoolers stopped attending class. Ramirez wants them back, learning face-to-face.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge,” Ramirez said, “because they’ve been out of school a year and a half. And that’s why we want them back — to try to get that (graduation) number as close to where we were in the past, which is getting close to 88% from the district.”

Dallas ISD’s Lincoln High School inspired the plan. Lincoln asked its collegiate high seniors to come back last month, and the school says 80% of them did, including Kevin Estell, Jr.

“The atmosphere, you know we’re around all our other peers. And so we just help each other with our classwork. After classwork, we have our fun, we talk, we just lift each others’ sprits. When you’re alone, you don’t have anyone to give that push to do your work,” Estell said.

Lincoln’s principal, Johnna Weaver, says highlighting the fun part was key.

“At the end of the day, I want them to be excited about coming to school, and we have a lot of fun doing it. I think that’s been a big win for us. And the other kids are hearing about it, and they say ‘what y’all doing?’ And the kids say, ‘we’re having fun.’ That’s what's selling it,” Weaver said.

And more fun is in the works for Lincoln seniors. They'll head to Six Flags for a day — to celebrate the end of high school together.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.