Education and schools in Dallas play a central role in the city. Dallas is a major centre of education for much of the South Central region of the USA. Thousands of Americans and people from abroad head to Dallas each year to attend one of the city's universities, colleges or trade schools.
The Dallas Independent School District oversees the provision of education in the city and is one of the largest school districts in the USA. The standard of schooling in Dallas is good, and there are plenty of options for students moving to the city from abroad.
When picking schools, those moving to Dallas will need to carefully evaluate their priorities for their children's education. It's necessary to consider cost, the proximity of the school to home and the workplace and the curriculum and teaching style followed by the school.
Public schools in Dallas
The standard of public schools in Dallas is varied. On one end of the spectrum, Dallas boasts many excellent charter and magnet schools that cater for gifted students and produce outstanding results; on the other hand, the city is also home to some schools that don't perform as well.
For this reason, parents choosing to send their children to a public school in Dallas will need extensive research into its standards and facilities. The Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) aggregates a broad spectrum of data regarding students' performance in each school and district in Texas annually. The reports furnish comprehensive details on school and district staff, programmes and student demographics, available for the state and every public school, district or region of Texas.
One major advantage of picking a public school in Dallas is the cost, as no fees are charged. Since public school attendance is based on zoning, it also allows children to mix with local kids from the neighbourhood, which is especially helpful for expat families new to the US.
Charter and magnet schools
Both charter and magnet schools are associated with high achievement and a broader cultural outlook. They're great options for parents looking for a higher standard of education for their children.
Charter schools have more scope to be flexible in their teaching methods than traditional public schools. Magnet schools follow an alternative, more specialised curriculum focusing on particular subjects such as languages, science or the performing arts. The Dallas Independent School District (ISD) offers students more than 30 magnet schools, some among the country's top performers.
With long waiting lists, competition for places at these schools can be fierce. Lottery systems are used to confirm enrolment for both charter and magnet schools in Dallas. Charter schools requiring a skill, such as those with music programmes, may also require an audition.
See Education and Schools in the USA for more on the national education system.
- Read more about Dallas Independent School District on their official website.
- View the latest Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) for a detailed look into school performances.
Private schools in Dallas
New arrivals in Dallas can also send their children to one of the city's private schools. Private schools generally follow the state's curriculum but tend to have some degree of flexibility regarding teaching styles. These schools often teach through a religious lens, such as Christian schools, or an alternative education philosophy, such as Montessori schools.
Private schools in Dallas provide a high standard of teaching and lots of scope for gifted students to flourish academically. They also tend to offer a more varied range of extracurricular activities. The downside of sending children to private schools is the high fees.
International schools in Dallas
Unlike in other major US cities, there aren't many international schools in Dallas. Most expats from English-speaking countries find that sending their child to a public or private school is a viable option, and therefore there isn't a massive demand for international schools in the city.
Francophones and parents who want to afford their children a bilingual education will be pleased to know that they can send their children to Dallas International School, Mission Laïque Française (DIS). It offers an integration of the French national curriculum, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the American curriculum.
For German pre-school to lower primary education (for children from 12 months to 10 years old), the German International School of Dallas is another option. They teach a marriage of the Bavarian curriculum and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, emphasising an immersion approach to German language and culture during the school day.
There are also many private and magnet schools in Dallas that offer the option of studying for the International Baccalaureate. Demand for places in international schools is high, and there are long waiting lists, so it's best to start the application process early. Fees at international schools can be costly. Expats considering this option should factor this into their negotiations for their employment package.
- Read more about Dallas International School on their website.
- Learn about the German International School of Dallas's kindergarten and primary school.
- See the Texas IB Schools Association for a list of IB World Schools in the state.
Homeschooling in Dallas
Homeschooling is legal in the state of Texas. Children taught at home are exempt from the compulsory attendance requirement, like students enrolled in a private school.
Parents who homeschool their children in Dallas need to follow specific rules with which they should familiarise themselves. Parents also need to remember that the public school district may ask them to provide assurances in writing that they intend to homeschool their child.
- Explore resources and support from the Texas Home School Coalition
Special-needs education in Dallas
The city of Dallas welcomes children and adults with special needs with open arms. The city has many inclusion initiatives, with adaptive programmes in many areas. The city has accessible playgrounds, sensory-friendly museums and many other options to keep learners with special needs in Dallas engaged.
Texas is one of the few states with solid Early Childhood Intervention programmes. There are professionals available who can analyse a child's circumstances and determine the appropriate course of action, such as setting up a personalised learning plan, getting access to early intervention therapists and getting assistance with transitioning into public schooling. Dallas also has several schools explicitly catering to those with special needs.
New parents can contact the Texan Department of Education for more assistance. There are also groups like The Down Syndrome Guild where parents can connect with those who have children enrolled in a range of special-needs programmes in the city.
- Explore the Early Childhood Intervention programmes in Texas.
Tutors in Dallas
Tutoring services are commonly used in Dallas. There are a vast number of options available to students who require extra help with specific school subjects. For expat children, tutoring can be invaluable for catching up with a new curriculum and covering possible knowledge gaps. Non-English-speaking families may find hiring a tutor valuable in helping their children learn English or maintaining their mother tongue if their full-time schooling is in English.
Several reputable tutoring services can be found in Dallas. There are also numerous private tutors in the city, ranging from retired teachers to university students.
►Read Areas and Suburbs in Dallas for some recommendations on the best neighbourhoods to live in.
Are you an expat living in Dallas?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dallas. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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