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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a new school year and there are new schools, programs and changes across the Dallas Independent School District.

There are some 160,000 students heading back to Dallas public schools today, but those students will face fewer standardized tests.

The Assessment of Course Performance (ACP) tests that were taken twice a year have been reduced to just once a year. The district said teachers and kids were being tested too much.

One of the new schools opening its doors today is Jose “Joe” May Elementary School in northwest Dallas. The school, that has more than 700 students in Pre-K through 5th grade, not only has the latest technology but is also environmentally friendly.

Principal Israel Rivera believes there are a wealth of reasons why students would want to be a part Joe May Maverick. “I think the kids will like the newness of the campus,” he said, adding that there are other things parents might find appealing. “We have great leadership and great teachers. The teachers were handpicked, so we have the best of the best.”

While the new schools opening across the district are exciting, there is also a buzz about existing programs that are being enhanced and expanded. The DISD Pre-K programs provide service to more than 10,000 youngsters throughout the city, offering half-day programs for 3-year-olds and full-day programs for 4-year-olds.

Assistant Superintendent for Early Learning Derek Little explained the children are at a critical learning time. “Three and four year olds are in a very special place in their life and in their development. We want to start them off strong, building strong language, building an ability to work with their peers and really building those skills that are necessary to be strong readers.”

The school distrcit also has a new tuition program. “We’re super excited that for the first time Dallas ISD is piloting a tuition program,” Little said. “It is at five campuses for four-year-olds. So for a fee, for families that didn’t qualify for our traditional Pre-K they can still join us at Dallas ISD for Pre-K.”

The pilot tuition program is available on the campuses of Nathan Adams, Arthur Kramer, Robert E. Lee, Ben Milam and Walnut Hill elementary schools.

The Dallas School District is also providing a new kind of school choice to families. There are two campuses in Pleasant Grove that are single gender and for the first time open enrollment was held at both. The change means any middle school student in the district can attend the Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School and the Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Fred F. Florence Middle School.

Registation continues today at a number of DISD schools.

Click here to go to the Dallas ISD back-to-school website for more helpful information.

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