Collin County is one of the most diverse counties in the entire state of Texas. The public school districts and private school sectors heavily reflect that.
Considered the prime suburb of Dallas, Collin County is a fast growing and thriving area. Education in the area has flourished in recent years, and has maintained a steady pace with the growth.
Collin County Education Overview
There are over 15 school districts that call Collin County home, and another 10 school districts have small portions (less than 10%) of their borders within Collin County. This is typical of most any county in Texas. The unique aspect of Collin County is the heavy population disparity between the different regions and how that affects the school districts within the county. To best describe Collin County, it is often split into four corners to provide a relative overview for the school district sizes within the area.
The northwest corner of the county is home to several school districts that cover a wide range of area. Most notable of these districts is Celina ISD. The northeast corner has a good mix of rural living and city living, which means that the school districts in this area must meet the needs of many different economical level students. This area has seen some growth over the recent years, albeit at a predictable, stable rate.
The northeast corner of the county is vastly rural. This is the part of the county that has several small school districts that meet the needs of the fewest students in the county. Districts such as Blue Ridge ISD and Melissa ISD make up the majority of this region. This is the least diverse part of the county.
The southwest corner of Collin County is by far the fastest growing area of Collin County. To put the growth of this area into perspective, several cities of this area have grown as much as 150% more than predicted over the last 15 years. As direct result of sprawl from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, this region is growing at a rapid rate. This portion of the county is home to notable districts such as Allen ISD, Frisco ISD, and Plano ISD. The education of this area is centered on taking care of over 200,000 students each day. This means that infrastructure has been under constant upgrade and future needs are constantly being to be assessed to stay ahead of the growth curve.
The southeast corner of Collin County has a good mix of rural and city living. This area has not seen near the growth as the southwest corner, however a predictable amount of growth has occurred. School districts here must be on constant alert for the next big wave of growth. For the last 5 years, many have predicted that this is the next area to see a massive influx of growth in the future. For this reason, school districts of this area have been vigilant in staying on top of growth patterns and city development. Notable districts of this area include Community ISD and Princeton ISD.
The culture of Collin County is important from an educational aspect. Being that Collin County is so ethnically diverse, it is crucial to understand how that impacts education of the area.
Like many school districts in the state of Texas, a large focus has been placed on ELL students and how to accommodate them into the regular class curriculum. Often times, teachers of the Collin County school districts are put through rigorous training in ELL strategies and techniques to make this transition comfortable for both the student and the teacher.
Beyond Collin County districts working to close the language gap in education in the area, there has also been much work to incorporate rigorous social studies activities that focus on foundations and backgrounds of the many different cultures of the area. This provides a rich experience for students from any background. Texas has done a great job of focusing standards around learning “beyond the book.”
Many portions of Collin County see families that enjoy a strong economic status that can be used to take advantage of many tools outside the classroom. Other parts of Collin County face the typical problems of today’s middle class.
Often times, students are unable to meet their educational needs as far as materials, basic necessity funding, and even having lunch money for school. Texas has many programs that are in place to help students in these categories. Collin County has a comparable amount of these students to any other county in the state. Texas has lunch programs that are free or reduced for economically disadvantaged students. Also, there are grants available through local city funding that go to help students with the purchase of school materials. Often times, many school districts in Collin County have materials readily available at school at the district expense.
Collin County offers some of the best extracurricular activities in the state of Texas. Private schools and public schools alike have achieved high marks in many different areas.
Athletically, high schools such as Allen, Plano East, and Frisco have earned state championships in some of their athletic programs. The football programs in the southwest and northwest regions of Collin County have consistently made deep runs in the playoffs each year over the last 15 years. Basketball and baseball programs have seen a rise in achievements as well. Athletic programs play a crucial role in the education of Collin County. Countless students have excelled in the athletic arena.
Other extracurricular activities such as band, choir, National Honor Society, and Agricultural Studies have played a key role in education in Collin County as well. Each district does its best to provide the funding and knowledge of these programs to help students succeed.
It can’t be overstated how crucial extracurricular activities have been for Collin County education. For several students, these activities are the difference between passing and failing. For others, this is a way for them to go to college. Education has been worked to incorporate these activities into the school day. This allows students a time to focus on them each day, all while not interfering with their other core classes.
As has been discussed, Texas puts each public school district through the same rigorous testing that is administered each year, in a 1-month window per subject. The Texas state test is called the STAAR exam. This is a test that is broken down by subject, starting all the way down at the elementary levels.
Each district is scored on criteria that grade the exam much like a regular test. However, the test is broken down further into different standards. These standards are graded on a percentage that will then reflect a “Pass” or a “Fail” grade per standard within a subject.
This does two major things. First and foremost, it allows the parent, student, and the teacher to see the individual areas that the student is struggling in. From there, the proper measures can be taken to help that student. Often times, it just requires more dedication to those specific areas in the classroom. Other times, accommodations are put in place to help the student learn at a higher level individually.
The other major goal of this is a tool to measure teacher effectiveness. At the end of each school year, educators are brought in to discuss their class’s scores on these STAAR exams. If there is an area that is lower in mastery than another area, it shows that the teacher needs to make changes in their teaching methods to hit a specific standard better. It is a great way for teachers to learn from the state exam.
Texas releases these scores each year at the end of the school year that become public record. Anyone can go and search the database for any given school district in Texas. The scores can be found on a cumulative level. A district will be given several grades based on the STAAR test that will show different aspects of that district. This is a great tool for incoming families who may be looking for a specific type of educational setting for their children.
Private School Information
Collin County offers many choices for private schooling for families that are interested in that path. Due to the population size of the area and the number of available schools, admission can be competitive. There are several schools that will meet their enrollment quota quick due to the influx of people. Private schooling has been on the rise over the last decade all across the state of Texas, and Collin County is no different.
Beyond High School
Collin County also has several choices for continued education beyond high school. Home to several finger colleges and community colleges, Collin County can meet the needs of most any degree path desired.
For those who are looking for a trade specific school, there are several options available for this as well. There are many beauty colleges, such as Allgood Beauty Institute, that have thrived in this area, as well as electrician certification and welding certification schools available. The post-secondary education of Collin County is centered on meeting the needs of students from multiple backgrounds. Large historic colleges including Southern Methodist University are just a just drive for high school graduates who want a large school experience while staying closer to home. University of North Texas at Frisco is in the backyard of many residents, and Collin College, serving over 52,000 students annually, has gained ground as a great local college to receive a degree in many fields of study. The future of education is bright in Collin County.