Cradle to Career

How well is our community preparing Dallas County students to realize their full potential?

You must learn to read before you can read to learn. Mastering basic math and science lays the groundwork for future problem solving in a 21st-century economy. And being prepared to take advantage of a quality education beyond high school is essential for obtaining a position in our increasingly skilled workforce. In short, education is a continuum. We call this concept the Cradle to Career Pipeline.

The Commit! Partnership has adopted the 11 student achievement indicators below as important milestones to consistently measure as a community. With collective progress reported annually in our Achievement Scorecard, these indicators allow us to identify areas of shared success and opportunity over time.

The indicators are grouped by age, and the work to help improve them is guided by our Support Councils.

Image Map

Early Childhood


Kindergarten Readiness

3rd Grade Reading

Until the end of third grade, most students are learning to read. By fourth grade, students are required to read to learn, and those who aren’t at grade level by third grade begin having difficulty comprehending written material central to learning all subjects. Only 20% of students who are not reading at grade level by the third grade successfully complete college. Literacy is absolutely critical to a child’s success.

Research shows that quality early childhood education can play a major role later in life. Beginning at age 3, the brain starts eliminating cells not being used. With a quality early-childhood education, more connections are made, the brain works faster and children will be better prepared for the increased demands in kindergarten on learning and behavior.

4-12 Grade

4th Grade Math

8th Grade Math & Science

A strong foundation in math and science at the middle school level can dramatically impact future workforce opportunity. As one prominent technology-sector CEO recently commented, “Less than one-third of U.S. eighth graders show proficiency in mathematics and science, yet STEM jobs are expected to number eight million within the next five years and more than two million of these will be newly created positions.”

Percentage College Ready ACT/SAT

4-Year High School Graduation Rates

Elementary math lays the foundation for all future mathematics, as students need a strong understanding of arithmetic and finite number sets to effectively tackle more complex concepts, such as algebra and infinite number sets. Research shows that an early understanding of math concepts is the most powerful predictor of later school success. It’s also indispensable to teaching reasoning, problem solving and everyday life skills.

Pre-SAT/ACT exams administered in the 10th grade and SAT/ACT exams administered in the 11th and 12th grade help us determine if a student has developed the academic foundation necessary for a successful transition from secondary to higher education. As nationally normed tests, these indicators allow our community to compare the progress of our school systems against those from around the country.

A high school diploma has always been a celebrated milestone, but graduating from high school has never been more important to every student’s short-term and long-term career opportunities. As United States Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan recently stated, “If you drop out today, there are no good jobs out there. You’re basically condemned to poverty and social failure.”

Higher Ed & Workforce

1st Year Retention Rate

Post-Secondary Completion

Since 1973, the percentage of jobs in the U.S. requiring some post-secondary education has risen from 28% to nearly 60%. To ensure our region has the talent to meet demands of the local economy, it is critical for students to begin post-secondary coursework.

Post-Secondary Enrollment

As many as one in three students nationally do not return for their second year of college. Often students begin higher education with strong ideals, but the transition proves very difficult. Supporting students during this critical period is essential for improving degree attainment.

The median wage for workers with no post-secondary degree is nearing the poverty line for a family of four. Whether it’s a four-year bachelor’s degree, a two-year associates degree or a career ready certificate, post-secondary graduation is an increasingly necessary achievement for students connecting with good jobs.