GPA isn’t the only factor in whether Texas high school students graduate. CPR is, too.

To ensure students learn the life-saving technique, Fort Worth ISD spends about $50,000 annually to have a certified professional instructor show high school students how to give CPR, according to district officials. 

Fort Worth ISD also spends its CPR-related funding on safety equipment and mannequins.

“We take this responsibility and life-saving skill seriously, providing our students the functional knowledge and skills necessary in the event they are ever in a cardiac emergency,” Fort Worth ISD spokesperson Claudia Garibay said.

When do students learn CPR?

Fort Worth ISD teaches CPR skills to high school students enrolled in a health class, according to a district official. However, they learn about CPR and other health-related lessons before their high school classes.

District spokesperson Claudia Garibay described what the skills lesson looks like for students.

“When our provider arrives, the students are trained and are provided with the steps and demonstration of the life-saving skill. Then students go to the CPR mannequins in small groups where the provider must observe the student performing the correct process and skill,” she said.

Health teachers and administrators enter the CPR training into students’ records. They also ensure students who did not receive the training during their freshman and sophomore years receive it to ensure they can graduate.

Fort Worth ISD was one of the first school districts in North Texas to understand the importance of teaching CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation,) and tabbed dollars to teach it, said Doug Dunsavage, director of advocacy and policy for the American Heart Association.

Since 2013, Texas has required students to learn CPR. State law requires the students receive the training at least once and the lessons must be from the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or a nationally recognized instruction.

Fort Worth ISD uses American Heart Association guidelines for CPR instruction, Garibay said.

Certification is not required, but students have to demonstrate proper CPR skills. An instructor visits every high school campus at least four times a year. Most students are either freshmen or sophomores, according to Fort Worth ISD.

Dunsavage is working with other North Texas school districts to follow in Fort Worth ISD’s steps.

Dunsavage knows the importance of knowing how to give CPR. He leapt into action during a backyard party after a third-grader was pulled out of a pool and wasn’t breathing.

He started CPR as another adult called 911. Dunsavage revived the girl, but 15 years later that moment still scares him. One image is still seared into his mind: 25 adults frozen because they did not know what to do.

“It was very scary, but it was because of my training that we revived her before the ambulance got there,” Dunsavage said.

In a decade or two, Dunsavage hopes that the pool party scene won’t repeat. Instead, adults who graduated from a Texas high school should know what to do.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, by following our guidelines.

Avatar photo

Jacob SanchezEnterprise Reporter

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University....