Arkansas Department of Education releases annual School Report Cards
More A’s and fewer F’s.
That’s the short story coming out of the Arkansas Department of Education’s annual release of the A-to-F school letter grades and accompanying “ESSA Index Scores,” (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015), which are numerical scores, released earlier this week.
Locally, Richland Elementary School in West Memphis earned the highest marks. Richland earned a “B” and a 72.41 ESSA score.
Statewide, fewer schools earned “F” grades for the year — 38 compared with the previous year’s 44.
Wednesday’s release of the letter and numerical scores dealt with all Arkansas schools, including charter schools. The top-scoring schools and the schools with the greatest improvements are now in line for cash awards from the state.
The A-to-F letter grades are based on each school’s federal ESSA Index Score, which is a numerical score of 1 to 100 that is calculated using numerous factors, including the results from the spring 2019 ACT Aspire tests given in grades three through 10 and improvement on that test over time.
Other factors in the calculations include high school graduation rtes and college entrance exam results if applicable to a school, progress by students who are English language learners and indicators of school quality and student success. Those quality and success indicators include student attendance, science achievement and gains, numbers of students reading at their grade level, and community service by students.
Comparing schools around the state, the Conway School District had six “A” schools among its 15 campuses, and one “C”. All the rest were “B’s”.
The 11 schools in the Bryant School District had all “A’s” and “B’s”.
The Springdale School District’s 29 campuses had seven “A’s” and nothing lower than a “C”.
The Jonesboro School District had one “F”, and no “A’s” among its nine campuses.
The Pine Bluff School District, which was taken over by the state in 2018 for academics and financial problems, has five “F”-graded schools, including its high school and two “D’s”.
The results drew criticism, including from State Sen. Joyce Elliott, of Little Rock, where controversy surrounds the state’s control of the Pulaski County School District due to failing schools.
Elliott, along with other members of he Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus, said the letter grades are unhelpful, based on “junk science” and are used by advocates of privatizing schools to undermine public education.
Elliott said state leaders must get serious about addressing more deeply seated issues beyond education that affect conditions in schools where students score lower on standardized tests. The Arkansas Policy Foundation applauded the use of letter grades to establish disrict and school academic ratings and triggers for acclaim or sanctions, according to its executive director, Greg Kaza.
A popular componnt of the ESSA Index Score system is that schools receive credit in the calculation for students who make achievement gains on the ACT Aspire that at least match whatever gains they made in the previous year. A value added growth score of 80 or better indicates that desired growth over a year. A total of 576 schools earned that 80 this year.
In Crittenden County: In the West Memphis School District, outside of Richland’s “B”, scores were “C’s” and below.
WMSD scores were: BRAGG ELEM K-6 — “C” 67.1 FAULK ELEM K-6 — “F” 57.91 MADDUX ELEM K-6 — “D” 60.24 RICHLAND ELEM K-6 — “B” 72.41 WEAVER ELEM K-6 — “F” 56.29 EAST JR. HIGH 7-9 — “D” 59.72 WEST JR. HIGH 7-9 — “C” 66.38 WONDER JR. HIGH 7-9 — “D” 57.71 ACADEMIES OF WM — “D” 59.83 In the Marion School District, both Marion Jr. High and Marion High Schools both received the letter grade “D”, with Marion High School dropping a letter grade from the year before. The first year for the district’s move to a magnet school model for its elementary schools saw the magnets receive two “D’s” and one “F”. The Marion School District scores were: MARION JR. HIGH 7-9 — “D” 60.87 MARION HIGH 10-12 — “D” 59.20 MATH SCI TECH MAGNET K-6 — “D” 62.25 VISUAL PERF ART MAGNET K-6 — “F” 56.49 GLOBAL COMM MAGNET K-6 — “D” 63.98 In the Earle School District, both the elementary and high school did poorly with the elementary school receiving an “F” for the second straight year. The high school received a “D” grade for the second year also. The Earle letter grade and ESSA scores were: EARLE ELEM K-6 — “F” 56.44 EARLE HIGH 7-12 — “D” 54.37 In comparison, a total of 169 of Arkansas’s 1,026 school campuses earned “A” grades from the state for the 2018-19 school year, an increase of 17 over the previous year.
The full report is available online at https://myschoolinfo. arkansas.gov/.