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LRSD: Power of Us vs. Priority of Them

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2018

Who will take responsibility?

Of 995 Arkansas public schools, only the Division of Youth Services (2%) scored worse on ACT Aspire Math readiness than the Little Rock School District's (LRSD) Hall High School (3.9%). (State Average: 47%; LRSD Average: 36%)

Of 998 Arkansas public schools, only Arkansas School for the Deaf Elementary (8%) and Division of Youth Services (4%) scored worse on ACT Aspire English readiness than LRSD Hall High School (18%). (State Average: 70%; LRSD Average: 58%)

Of 994 Arkansas public schools, the bottom three scorers in ACT Aspire Science were LRSD Hall High School, LRSD J.A. Fair High School, and Dollarway High School, all with 4% meeting readiness and all under State control. (State Average: 40%; LRSD Average: 29%)

Of 995 Arkansas public schools, LRSD Hall High School was 987th (10%) and LRSD Fair High School was 989th (9%) in percentage of students meeting readiness in Reading on the ACT Aspire. (Arkansas Average: 41%; LRSD Average: 32%)

We tried to find a silver lining in growth, but Hall declined in Math (-.2 points), English (-2 points) and Reading (-1 point), while improving less than +.7 points in Science.

Perhaps most telling, 27% of Hall's core teachers (Math, Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Special Education) were absent ten or more days in the first semester of 2017. In the third quarter, 50% of core teachers were absent five or more days.

Triggered by six schools in Academic Distress, in January 2015, the Little Rock School District was taken over by 5-4 vote of the State Board of Education. Three-and-a-half years later, including over two under the same superintendent, here is the latest academic performance and growth of those original six schools, as well as the overall district:

Subject  Arkansas  LRSD  Baseline Cloverdale  Henderson  Fair  Hall  McClellan 
 Math % Ready (Rank of 995)  47%  36%  25% (847)  11% (964)  17% (939)  5% (990)  3.9% (994)   7% (987)
 Math Growth/Decline (Rank of 995)  -0.16  -1
(166 of 262)
 -15 (954)  -5 (771)  -1 (539)  +0.2 (451)  -0.2 (474)  +0.3 (437)
                 
 English % Ready (Rank of 998)  70%  58%  44% (954)  42% (964)  51% (896)  25% (992)  18% (996)  27% (991)
 English Growth/Decline (Rank of 998)  +0.2  0
(158 of 262)
 -6 (873)  -2 (679)  -2 (664)  -4 (790)  -2 (697)  +5 (166)
                 
 Science Ready (Rank of 994)   40%  29%  42% (964)  13% (946)  12% (961)  4% (993)  4% (992)  8% (982)
 Science Growth/Decline (Rank of 994)  -0.7  -1
(143 of 262)
 -5 (814)  -2 (615)  -3 (681)  -1 (501)  +1 (353)  +0.06 (406)
                 
 Reading % Ready (Rank of 995)  41%  32%  12% (972)  17% (936)  19% (913)  9% (989)  10% (987)  12% (973)
 Reading Growth/Decline (Rank of 995)  +0.26

 0
(160 of 262)

 -4 (751)  -1 (570)  -4 (747)  -5 (812)  -1 (578)  -2 (645)

 

The only positive academic news among the schools or even district-wide, in either performance or growth, was:

  • +5 English Growth at McClellan (166 of 998 schools in Arkansas)
  • +1 Science Growth at Hall
  • +0.3 Math Growth at McClellan
  • +0.2 Math Growth at Fair
  • +0.06 Science Growth at McClellan

Conversely, all of the other formerly Academic Distress schools and the overall district stayed the same or declined in all other subject areas, led by Baseline's 15 point drop in Math, 6 point drop in English, 5 point drop in Science, and 4 point drop in Reading.

Truly student-focused education demands urgency, with the best interests of students immediately prioritized over self interests of adults.

Sources

http://www.officeforeducationpolicy.org/arkansas-school-data-act-aspire

https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=42395912

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Welcome to the Neighborhood, Dr. McNulty

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Just one month on the job, Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Dr. Charles McNulty has received his first John Walker federal lawsuit. 98-page Beasley v. McNulty attached.

Download File (PDF)

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Best Interests of Students: Parents v. School Districts

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Monday, August 6, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2018

[WORK IN PROGRESS]

August 1, 2018. 9:30 a.m. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Judge Susan O. Hickey presiding.

Less than two weeks before school starts, hearings were held on the Camden Fairview, Hope, Junction City and Lafayette County School Districts' motions for Injunction and Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) on inter-district school choice transfers approved for residents, but not necessarily students, of their respective districts.

The latter is important because these school districts, led by their school boards, superintendents and attorneys, seek the right to control the choice(s) of all residents of their districts, no matter if they are enrolled in their school districts or not.

Recording devices were not allowed in Court, and the transcript has not yet been made public. What follows is from copious notes made during the day-long proceedings. Arkansas Learns welcomes edits of this record by anyone in attendance during the proceedings. A full transcript will be shared when available.

Opening

Allen P. Roberts, lead attorney for all four districts, opened with "We're here to preserve the status quo, as these districts have not participated in school choice." He argued for the Court's "preservation of the status quo" because of the likelihood that it would decide on the merits in the districts' favor when the actual cases are heard in five to six months (January or February, 2018).

The State of Arkansas, led by KaTina Guest and Renae Hudson, reminded the Court that a "significant segregative impact" had to be proven by the Plaintiffs. In the past, the Court has found that not even a 6% change was considered significant, so because allowing these transfers would create a less than 1% change in racial demographics, they would certainly not be considered to have a "significant segregative impact." Further, the impact must be purposeful segregation, with the State proven to have intent to segregate.

Ms. Guest argued that the students' status quo is what should be preserved - properly approved transfers.

She shared that Camden Fairview has been deemed unitary by the federal court, therefore a new lawsuit must be filed. She shared that the Eighth Circuit has ruled that Courts cannot ambiguously craft existing consent orders nor is it entitled to modify existing orders in perpetuity. Other relevant points included:

  • No single child in any of the districts has alleged denial of equal protection
  • There is no likelihood of the districts' success on the merits
  • There is no irreparable harm to the districts in allowing the approved transfers
  • There is no immediate financial harm to the districts funding because that is determined by ADM (Average Daily Membership) for the previous three quarters
  • There is no irreparable harm because funding is recalculated every year

 

Camden Fairview

Mark Keith, superintendent of the Camden Fairview School District, was called as a witness by counsel for the district. On cross examination...

Mr. Keith admitted that Camden Fairview was unitary.

Mr. Keith admitted that his elementary schools were "Cs and D" and his high school received a "C."

Mr. Keith said he doesn't "take offense to anybody trying to do better."

Mr. Keith admitted that none of his district's consent decrees mention Smackover, the preferred destination for most of his school choice applicants.

Mr. Keith admitted the transfers would have no immediate or financial harm to the district.

Because the 15 approved transfer students were not enrolled in the district in 2017-18, Mr. Keith admitted they would have no segregation impact.

When pressed about what harm the district would have, he answered, "Perception of White children leaving."

The State's counsel asked, "You just believe students should have no choice?"

Mr. Keith answered "I'm stingy."

Smackover-Norphlet Superintendent John Gross was called as a witness by the State.

He shared that 14 accepted transfers to Smackover-Norphlet School District were from Camden Fairview and three were from Parkers Chapel. Of those, all were White, except one that was two or more races.

Holly Strickland, Smackover Elementary Principal was called by the State. She testified that transferring students from Camden Fairview were coming from Home and private schools, and that parents were comparing school Report Cards.

Parent Gregory Nelson was called by the State as a witness. Mr. Nelson lives in Stephens and has a seventh grade daughter who attended Columbia Christian, a private school in Magnolia, in 2017-18. The Nelsons have lived in Arkansas for twenty years, and Mr. Nelson's wife works one mile from Magnolia Junior High School.

When asked why they sought school choice, Mr. Nelson answered that they wanted their daughter to attend public school for better opportunities. She has never attended school in Camden Fairview, their resident district. His wife works an hour from what would be their daughter's school, and he works further away. He shared that his daughter would be moviing from a nearly all White private school to a diverse public school.

Upon cross examination, Mr. Nelson told Attorney Roberts that his daughter "will not, has never, and never will attend Camden Fairview."

Roberts called current Watson Chapel and former Pulaski County Special School District and former Camden Fairview Superintendent Jerry Guess as a witness.

Dr. Guess admitted that he lives in Camden and does not live in the the district he serves. He shared that the State's 1989 School Choice law limited transfers by race, in that students could not transfer to a district where their race was in a higher percentage that their resident district.

Upon cross examination, Dr. Guess claimed that he retired from the Pulaski County Special School District. When pressed, he admitted that he was terminated. When asked why, he said "because they (the board) did not want to be unitary."

"We worked too well."

"The powers in PCSSD and State wanted to consolidate. They (the board) would not allow him to pursue that course."

Dr. Guess could offer no testimony as to the 1989 consent decree's intent, as he had no involvement before 2002. When asked when he had an independent recollection, he responded the 2002 hearing. He admitted that the plaintiff and district agreed that the district was unitary in 2002.

He also admitted that none of the consent decrees memorialize other districts other than Harmony Grove, and that there was no reliance on the 1989 act in regard to inter-district transfers.

When asked by Attorney Roberts if it was a problem, "White going to Whiter," Dr. Guess answered "Yes."

 

Hope

Superintendent Bobby Hart was called as a witness. He claimed the district has 2,237 students, and that Hempstead County is 35% Black. [NOTE: Hope School District is 45% Black]

On cross examination, he shared that "Hope feels it's unitary in every area, but not required for school choice."

He conveyed an anecdote that he had parents in his office say, "There is nobody their daughter can date," and "There is no one in our son's fifth grade class to have a sleepover."

He said "White Flight" happens when a district becomes 30-35% Black, then White families start looking for Whiter schools [NOTE: Hope is 18% White].

He admitted that he could not testify that 23 accepted transfers from Hope had any racial animosity.

He also admitted that even though Hope has had no school choice, it has still lost White enrollment. Therefore, school choice has had no segregative impact.

He admitted that the 1993 Davis case did not mention inter-district transfers, but that the issue was whether or not an employee - Rose Davis - was fairly treated. As a result of the case, activities were integrated, as were intra-district student assignments.

When asked if he could comply with this order even if he lost 15 students, he answered "Correct."

He was asked if bullying and safety were legitimate concerns for parents.

He admitted Spring Hill, Nashville, Nevada - destination districts of approved transfers - were not part of the Davis case.

He agreed that the 3% cap could have meant he lost approximately 70 transfers, but that the existing approved transfers only accounted for 1.3% of Hope's enrollment.

He admitted that some transferring students were not enrolled in the Hope district, but attended private school.

He admitted that Hope would experience no harm in funding and would experience no immediate financial harm.

He admitted that Hope High School received an 'F' on the School Report Cards, and that Clinton Elementary received a 'D,' Beryl Henry Elementary received a 'C,' and Yeager Middle received a 'D.' He though Spring Hill schools received 'Bs.'

He claimed that no non-residents were admitted to Hope, even though the application for the district's Garland Learning Center said in district and out of district students may apply. He claimed that was a mistake, and that if he found out any non-resident students were accepted, he would kick them out.

It was pointed out that only after an intra-district application to Garland had been rejected that a family then sought inter-district school choice.

When asked what would be the harm to Hope if it loses seven White students, he answered, 'If seven go, I'm most concerned about the 2,200 others."

He agreed that if the transfers were allowed to proceed that he would not violate the constitutional rights of those who remained.

 

Junction City

Junction City Superintendent Robby Lowe was called as a witness by Attorney Roberts. Mr. Lowe reported 673 students, 60% "non-Black." [NOTE: "Non-Black is an anachronistic term used when diversity meant essentially Black and non-Black, the latter of which included all non-Black ethnic groups.]

On cross examination, Mr. Lowe said he believes "they are unitary as long as they don't participate in school choice." He said five transfers had been approved from Junction City to Parkers Chapel, all "non-Black."

He said they had ten Legal Transfer requests, but that only two had been granted because they were "in the best interests of the child." He said he believes participating in school choice will open the floodgates and that the district would see increasing numbers of Whites leaving.

Mr. Lowe admitted that non of the five approved transfer students had ever attended school in Junction City.

He admitted that the district would be in no worse position because of the transfers.

He also admitted that the demographics of the district did not change with the "floodgates open."

He admitted there would be no immediate, irreparable financial harm to the district because of the transfers.

He admitted that there had been no action regarding the district's consent decree since 1970.

He admitted that the district was unitary and that it is not discriminating against Black children.

He admitted that he was not going to set up a dual system of schools.

He admitted that Junction City had received non-resident students, by agreement, from Louisiana since 1894. [NOTE: At least one-fourth of Junction City's enrollment is from non-resident school choice students from Louisiana who are admitted without regard to race nor concern about the district's federal consent order.]

He admitted that parents have valid interest in quality schools.

He admitted that Junction City received a D and Cs, while Parkers Chapel received Bs.

[NOTE: It was shared outside of Court that Mr. Lowe, like Dr. Guess, does not live in the district he serves. In fact, he does not even live in Arkansas. We consider that relevant because the districts believe all students living in the district must attend school in the district, while they do not hold their employees to the same standard. In fact, non-resident employees are allowed to transfer their students into the district, while resident employees of other districts are able to transfer their students to the employer's district.]

The State called Sarah Sayers-McCoy, a Junction City resident parent.

Ms. Sayers-McCoy shared that she is "heartbroken to be called racist, as motivation by race has not at one time come into our thoughts."

In emotional testimony, she shared being accused of being "privileged," while she considered herself "blessed." She said her family was accused of being "privileged racists."

When asked, "Are you a racist?," she answered "absolutely not."

She said, as a mom, she appeared to plead to Court for opportunity for her son.

She shared that someone opposed to choice sent her an anonymous message which said even though she is doing it (seeking transfer) for racial reasons, the author would be a support group for her if she enrolled her son in Junction City.

When asked if she was afraid to enroll her son in Junction City, she answered that he is "not coming." He "will go private." After receiving approval of the transfer from Parkers Chapel, her son has been involved in sports and other activities, and they have no intention of sending him to Junction City.

On cross examination, Attorney Roberts asked "Did you apply for a Legal Transfer?" It became apparent that Ms. Sayers-McCoy did not know the difference between inter-district school choice (open to all) and Legal Transfer, which requires agreement by resident and receiving districts.

Roberts asked: "Do you consider yourself a segregationist?" She answered, "No."

He then asked "Do you believe desegregation is in the public interest?"

She answered, "Not if you file a Temporary Restraining Order on families one week before school."

"I know what's best for my son," said Ms. Sayers-McCoy.

She said her husband attended and graduated from Junction City, while she attended and graduated from El Dorado.

Roberts asked again: "If you do not have school choice, will you ask for legal transfer?" Ms. Sayers-McCoy still was unaware of the difference in the types of transfers, which is understandable since the superintendent testified he had only granted two legal transfers.

Judge Hickey interjected and asked Ms. Sayers-McCoy why she did not consider El Dorado School District for transfer. She answered that she would love her child to go El Dorado, but they had decided smaller was better.

 

Lafayette County

Attorney Roberts called Lafayette County Superintendent Robert Edwards as a witness.

Mr. Roberts testified that the district was 61.1% "Black American."

He said the district "chose to participate (in School Choice) in 2013-14," and the district had 31 transfers - all white - to Spring Hill or Taylor. [NOTE: The fact that the district admitted that it "chose" to participate in inter-district school choice should be prima facie evidence that its federal order did and does not preclude the district's participation in school choice.]

He testified that Lafayette County is the consolidated district of Lewisville, Stamps and Buckner in 2002-03.

He testified that Spring Hill is "99.9% White." [NOTE: It's 85%.]

He testified that Emerison-Taylor-Bradley is 16.1% "Black American."

He was asked, "Do you think participating in school choice would be damaging?"

He answered, "Yes. Would make 'Blacker'."

He admitted that nothing had changed in the district's federal court order since it "chose" to participate in school choice.

He testified that the district had 35 transfer applicants this year, with 34 accepted. Without being asked, he said those accepted were "all White."

He was asked, "Do you believe voluntarily participating in school choice would hurt the district?"

He said yes.

When asked why, he answered: "Greater Black atmosphere."

When asked, "Is that a harm," he answered: "Absolutely." He furthered, "Continuing to allow White Americans to leave, you're essentially recreating segregation."

On cross examination, he was asked, "What constitutes harm?"

He was reminded that there was an annual 3% cap on transfers from a district. He was asked if he has checked to see what his cap would be. He answered that he didn't know what his cap would be.

He admitted that Nevada and Magnolia had demographics comparable to Lafayette County.

He admitted that not all families seeking choice were seeking transfer to districts with different demographics. In fact, only six were seeking transfer to Emerson-Taylor-Bradley, a district with different demographics.

He admitted that parents and the public have a genuine interest in academic success.

He admitted that Lafayette County schools received Ds, while Emerson-Taylor-Bradley received Bs.

He was asked if he believed Lafayette County cannot participate in school choice without violating its court order, even though that order did not involve Stamps, Nevada, Emerson-Taylor-Bradley.

He admitted that since the decree had been entered, there had been no action to challenge saying the district was refusing to comply.

He admitted that the lawsuit did not involve inter-district school choice.

He admitted that the original Mary Turner lawsuit was regarding fair employment practices and student unitary non-discrimination within the district.

He admitted that if the district participates in school choice it can still provide non-discriminatory education.

He admitted that the district would have no immediate financial harm, because the funding is based on ADM (Average Daily Membership) of three quarters ago, plus the district would receive declining enrollment funds if it's enrollment declined.

Lafayette County Parent Tiffanie Green was called as a witness for the State.

She said she has four children, ages 16, 12, 10 and 9. All had attended Lafayette County for at least one year.

Ms. Green shared a story about her first grade daughter. A child had tried to kiss her. It was reported to the teacher, but nothing changed. It was reported to the principal, but nothing changed. The principal said Ms. Green should say something to the child, but she refused.

In other instance, the PE Coach did not allow students to stop for water. As a result, her daughter had a seizure. She was sent to the bathroom alone. There, she had another seizure and was later found on the floor. She was taken to the nurse.

Ms. Green was 25-30 minutes from school, and her husband was in Texas.

When Ms. Green arrived, her daughter sat in the office, covered in blood, vomit, and no ambulance had been called.

She took her straight to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with heat exhaustion. As a result, her daughter now suffers from permanent heat sensitivity. She was pulled from the school.

Ms. Green recounted that "we've been blocked every step of the way. We get one shot (with our children). We don't get a do-over. I want to do what's best for my child."

So, she applied for a custodian position at Emerson-Taylor-Bradley [NOTE: Non-resident employees are allowed school choice.]. She spent a year sweeping, cleaning toilets, and took a pay cut for her children.

She said reported things said on social media about her family - called racial slurs, bigots, claims that they just want to get away from Black people. She shared that two of her daughter's best friends are bi-racial.

She said she has grown a "thicker skin," but her kids are confused.

When asked if there was any way race was a part of her decision, she answered, 'Absolutely not!"

She said she had "no faith in the school district to keep her kids safe."

On cross examination, she said her "kids were behind," but now her daughter going into the fifth grade scored at mid-9th grade level on the ACT Aspire.

In regard to her children, she said, "They're thriving, blossoming."

In 2013-14, they were turned down for transfer. She appealed, but the State upheld the denial, so she got a job in the Emerson-Taylor-Bradley School District.

The State called Gary Hines, superintendent at Emerson-Taylor-Bradley, as a witness.

 

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When Districts Fail Students, Cry Race When They Dare to Leave

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, July 27, 2018
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2018

1 F
8 Ds
4 Cs
0 Bs
1 A

On the State’s most recent A-F grades for public schools, the 14 schools among the four districts seeking to exempt from the State’s law on inter-district school choice achieved a cumulative 1.43 GPA.

Camden Fairview 1.4
Hope 1.6
Junction City 1.0
Lafayette County 1.5

And yet, Allen P. Roberts, PA, lawyers for the four districts, will go to U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey’s Court in El Dorado at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 1st and accuse parents of being motivated by race in seeking transfer from their resident districts. Nevemind that their districts have failed and are failing their children academically. In Roberts’ increasingly shrinking, isolated world, defense of government monopolies’ racial percentages trumps equal opportunity for all every time.

Just two weeks before the start of school, Roberts et al., aided by John Walker, are seeking Temporary Restraining Orders to halt previously approved transfers. Whether or not the TROs are granted should depend on who would be hurt the most if the transfers are allowed or halted. The math on that should be easy. If the transfers are not stopped, only the resident districts could conceivably be “hurt.” While districts will eventually lose the transferring students’ state funding, they will retain 100% of local funding, so their per pupil spend will actually go up. Conversely, if the TROs are granted, the parents, students and the receiving districts that planned for their enrollment will be hurt.

Here’s how each school performed:

Fairview Primary K-1: C (68.46)
Ivory Primary 2-3: C (67.7)
Camden Fairview Intermediate 4-5: D (59.86)
Camden Fairview Middle 6-8: D (62.31)
Camden Fairview High 9-12: D (60.43)

Clinton Primary K-4: D (64.65)
Beryl Henry Elementary 5-6: C (68.22)
Garland Learning Center P-8: A (82.58)
Yeager Middle 7-8: D (60.96)
Hope High 9-12: F (50.44)

Lafayette County Elementary: D (62.65)
Lafayette County High 7-12: D (59.05)

Junction City Elementary K-6: D (64.99)
Junction City High 7-12: C (65.38)

May Judge Hickey rule on the very narrow issue - do the districts’ ancient federal orders, none of which contemplated inter-district school choice, conflict with State law? Or do they not? The liberty of families and academic opportunity of students await.

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To Go Forward, Pine Bluff Must Prioritize Students

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Saturday, July 21, 2018
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2018

For Pine Bluff to not only halt its skid, but turn around and thrive, priority one must be its students. Here’s how its doing on that front, based on performance and growth in the state’s summative test, ACT Aspire.

Dollarway (Grades 3 - 10), 982

2015-16 Math 13%
2015-16 Reading 14%
2015-16 English 39%
2015-16 Science 9%

2016-17 Math 13% (0)
2016-17 Reading 9% (-5)
2016-17 English 42% (+3)
2016-17 Science 9% (0)

2017-18 Math 12% (-1)
2017-18 Reading 11% (+2)
2017-18 English 40% (-2)
2017-18 Science 8% (-1)

 

Pine Bluff (Grades 3 - 10), 3,648

2015-16 Math 20%
2015-16 Reading 17%
2015-16 English 42%
2015-16 Science 11%

2016-17 Math 20% (0)
2016-17 Reading 12% (-5)
2016-17 English 39% (-3)
2016-17 Science 16% (+5)

2017-18 Math 15% (-5)
2017-18 Reading 14% (+2)
2017-18 English 42% (+3)
2017-18 Science 12% (-4)

 

Watson Chapel (Grades 3 - 10), 2,582 Students

2015-16 Math 21%
2015-16 Reading 21%
2015-16 English 52%
2015-16 Science 17%

2016-17 Math 24% (+3)
2016-17 Reading 22% (+1)
2016-17 English 53% (+1)
2016-17 Science 18% (+1)

2017-18 Math 19% (-5)
2017-18 Reading 19% (-3)
2017-18 English 51% (-2)
2017-18 Science 16% (-2)

 

White Hall (Grades 3 - 10), 2,926 Students

2015-16 Math 51%
2015-16 Reading 42%
2015-16 English 74%
2015-16 Science 43%

2016-17 Math 54% (-3)
2016-17 Reading 46% (+4)
2016-17 English 79% (+5)
2016-17 Science 48% (+5)

2017-18 Math 49% (-5)
2017-18 Reading 46% (0)
2017-18 English 78% (-1)
2017-18 Science 45% (-3)

 

Declining this past year in 12 of 16 opportunities is not going forward. However, when the improvement rests with Dollarway (Reading) and Pine Bluff (Reading and English), it’s both encouraging for Pine Bluff as a whole and a wake up call for Watson Chapel and White Hall.

Talent drives economic development. And the biggest part of the talent pipeline is K-12 public education. Communities which prioritize the best interests of students over the self interests of adults will win. Those that don’t, won’t.

Go Forward Pine Bluff, and show the rest of Arkansas it can be done.

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State Controlled Districts: Leading by Example

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Saturday, July 21, 2018
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2018

Three Arkansas school districts are in state control - Dollarway, Earle and Little Rock.

Here’s how each are doing on the state’s summative assessments, ACT Aspire (Grades 3 - 10).

Dollarway (Grades 3 - 10)

2015-16 Math 13%
2015-16 Reading 14%
2015-16 English 39%
2015-16 Science 9%

2016-17 Math 13% (0)
2016-17 Reading 9% (-5)
2016-17 English 42% (+3)
2016-17 Science 9% (0)

2017-18 Math 12% (-1)
2017-18 Reading 11% (+2)
2017-18 English 40% (-2)
2017-18 Science 8% (-1)

 

Earle (Grades 3 -10)

2015-16 Math 20%
2015-16 Reading 16%
2015-16 English 48%
2015-16 Science 8%

2016-17 Math 20% (0)
2016-17 Reading 16% (0)
2016-17 English 53% (+5)
2016-17 Science 9% (+1)

2017-18 Math 12% (-8)
2017-18 Reading 9% (-7)
2017-18 English 49% (-4)
2017-18 Science 9% (0)

 

Little Rock (Grades 3 - 10)

2015-16 Math 33%
2015-16 Reading 30%
2015-16 English 57%
2015-16 Science 26%

2016-17 Math 37% (+4)
2016-17 Reading 32% (+2)
2016-17 English 59% (+2)
2016-17 Science 29% (+3)

2017-18 Math 36 (-1)
2017-18 Reading 32 (0)
2017-18 English 58 (-1)
2017-18 Science 29 (0)

 

Improving only in one subject area (Dollarway Reading) in twelve opportunities in three school districts is unacceptable. Declining in eight of twelve opportunities is cause for alarm and changes in district, building and classroom leadership.

Of course, cumulative summative test scores do not tell the entire story of a school’s performance or growth. But when the state takes the rare and necessary move to intervene in a district, it must know that its performance is not only closely scrutinized locally, but an example - good, bad or both - to the districts in the rest of the state.

Disruptive state intervention must be immediately followed by a change agent leader implementing an urgent, turnaround culture ensuring that, in all things, the best interests of students are prioritized over the self interests of adults.

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Little Rock Grade Level Reading: Opposite of RISE

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Saturday, July 7, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018

Preliminary ACT Aspire results are out for 2017-18, but difficult to find for English and Reading.

However, thanks to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, scores (by schools, grades) are searchable here: http://www.arkansasonline.com/2018act

This is the third year of ACT Aspire as the summative test for Arkansas's Grades 3 through 10 students. In 2015, it was chosen by the Governor and confirmed by a split vote of the Arkansas State Board of Education to replace PARCC.

Since a consensus among disparate groups is that Grade 3 Reading is the greatest determinant of future success/failure, here's how the state-controlled Little Rock School District is doing on that front.

Percentage of Students Meeting/Exceeding Readiness in Reading (Grade 3 in Bold)

LRSD School 2015-16  2016-17  2017-18 1-Year Growth/Decline  2-Year Growth/Decline 
 Bale 3rd  16.30  13.70  14.49  +.79  -1.81
 Bale 4th  13.00  16.30  24.36  +8.06  +11.36
 Bale 5th  16.10  7.30  7.25  -0.05  -8.85
           
 *Baseline 3rd  23.40  10.70  11.11  +0.41  -12.29
 Baseline 4th  21.69  19.60  20.83  +1.23  -0.86
 Baseline 5th  2.20  18.80  5.77  -13.03  +3.57
           
 Booker 3rd  28.20  22.10  30.44  +8.34  +2.24
 Booker 4th  22.80  27.60  30.68  +7.88  +7.88
 Booker 5th  32.00  24.80  29.73  +4.93  -2.27
           
 Brady 3rd  8.50  13.80  18.03  +4.23  +9.53
 Brady 4th  9.50  22.60  21.92  -0.78  +12.42
 Brady 5th  19.20  22.10  22.22  +0.12  +3.02
           
 *Carver 3rd  25.60  30.00  32.61  +2.61  +7.01
 Carver 4th  22.70  37.70  49.06  +11.36  +22.36
 Carver 5th  44.70  31.70  36.74  +5.04  -7.96
           
 *Chicot 3rd  NA  18.70  19.15  +0.45  NA
 Chicot 4th  NA  16.70  20.18  +3.48  NA
 Chicot 5th  NA  17.00  10.71  -6.29  NA
           
 Dodd 3rd  8.70  26.50  24.39  -2.11  +15.69
 Dodd 4th  13.60  20.90  20.00  -0.90  +6.40
 Dodd 5th  15.10  8.40  23.33  +14.93  +8.23
           
 Don Roberts 3rd  67.40  66.60  68.87  +2.27  +1.48
 Don Roberts 4th  77.80  72.60  68.55  -4.05  -9.25
 Don Roberts 5th  58.40  66.40  67.07  +0.67  +8.67
           
 *Forest Heights STEM 3rd  43.80  43.60  52.78  +9.18  +4.98
 Forest Heights STEM 4th  62.00  51.50  49.33  -2.17   -12.67
 Forest Heights STEM 5th  47.80  45.70  53.62  +7.92  +5.82
           
 Forest Park 3rd  62.70  62.70  70.27  +7.57  +7.57
 Forest Park 4th  78.60  71.60  66.13  -5.47  -12.47
 Forest Park 5th  59.30  68.60  62.16  -6.44  +2.86
           
 *Fulbright 3rd  41.50  42.40  53.61  +11.21  +12.11
 Fulbright 4th  42.60  43.60  41.30  -2.30  -1.30
 Fulbright 5th  33.30  35.00  44.05  +9.05  +10.75
           
 *Gibbs 3rd  51.10  69.60  43.75  -25.85  -7.35
 Gibbs 4th  53.30  56.50  56.10  -0.40  +2.80
 Gibbs 5th  41.30  32.60  34.88  +2.28  -6.42
           
 Jefferson 3rd  61.00  71.40  53.32  -18.08  -7.68
 Jefferson 4th  42.60  61.60  72.86  +11.26  +30.26
 Jefferson 5th  25.60  50.00  63.83  +13.83  +38.23
           
 M. L. King 3rd  21.60  24.50  31.67  +7.17  +10.07
 M. L. King 4th  40.80  28.10  25.00  -3.10  -15.80
 M. L. King 5th  27.80  35.50  17.57  -17.93  -10.23
           
 Mabelvale 3rd  23.60  21.50  20.00  -1.5  -3.6
 Mabelvale 4th  7.40  22.20  20.73  -1.47  -13.33
 Mabelvale 5th  7.50  14.10  12.20  -1.90  +4.70
           
 McDermott 3rd  33.40  20.40  22.45  +2.05  -10.95
 McDermott 4th  25.60  28.60  22.64  -5.96  -2.96
 McDermott 5th   17.60  20.00  20.76  +0.76  +3.16
           
 Meadowcliff 3rd  18.80  16.00  17.39  +1.39  -1.41
 Meadowcliff 4th  11.30  24.50  28.57  +4.07  +17.27
 Meadowcliff 5th  6.70  11.60  25.00  +13.40  +18.30
           
 Otter Creek 3rd  28.40  25.90  23.88  -2.02  -4.52
 Otter Creek 4th  31.20  28.70  33.75  +5.05  +2.55
 Otter Creek 5th  26.00  26.10  22.64  -3.46  -3.36
           
 *Pulaski Heights 3rd  50.00  45.60  47.62  +2.02  -2.38
 Pulaski Heights 4th   58.80  42.80  60.00  +17.2  +1.2
 Pulaski Heights 5th  42.60  50.90  51.79  +0.89  +9.19
           
 Rockefeller 3rd  19.30  24.50  23.68  -0.82  +4.38
 Rockefeller 4th  23.70  18.40  27.91  +9.51  +4.21
 Rockefeller 5th  13.60  20.60  15.91  -4.69  +2.31
           
 *Romine 3rd  13.30  23.10  12.50  -10.6  -0.8
 Romine 4th  12.80  17.90  14.29  -3.61  +1.49
 Romine 5th  20.00  3.20  16.67  +13.47  -3.33
           
 *Stephens 3rd  16.90  19.10  5.13  -13.97  -11.77
 Stephens 4th  13.90  17.70  21.59  +3.89  +7.69
 Stephens 5th  12.50  15.90  11.82  -4.08  -0.68
           
 Terry 3rd  44.90  26.10  44.23  +17.13  -0.67
 Terry 4th  48.20  44.40  43.64  -0.76  -4.56
 Terry 5th  25.40  29.70  32.14  +2.44  +6.74
           
 Wakefield 3rd  16.30  22.50  18.89  -3.61  +2.59
 Wakefield 4th  16.30  19.10  25.25  +8.95  +8.95
 Wakefield 5th  15.60  13.60  14.46  +0.86  -1.14
           
 Washington 3rd  19.70  15.90  2.82  -13.08  -16.88
 Washington 4th  11.50  17.00  5.09  -11.91  -6.41
 Washington 5th  14.10  10.50  25.00  +14.5  +10.90
           
 Watson 3rd  11.30  17.10  7.14  -9.96  -4.16
 Watson 4th  9.90  16.20  23.46  +7.26  +13.56
 Watson 5th  4.40  9.60  15.29  +5.69  +11.19
           
 *Western Hills 3rd  31.10  14.20  25.00  +10.8  -6.1
 Western Hills 4th  26.90  27.50  27.45  -0.05  -0.55
 Western Hills 5th  12.90  25.90  26.67  -0.77  +13.77
           
 *Williams 3rd  44.10  55.60  56.41  +0.81  +12.31
 Williams 4th  65.50  54.80  60.26  +5.46  -6.24
 Williams 5th  48.40  57.90  48.53  -9.37  +0.13

*RISE (Reading Initiative for Student Success)

Grade 3 Takeaways:

  • 28 Elementary School Third Grades
  • 17 Improved Between 2016-17 and 2017-18 (1 Year)
  • 12 Improved Between 2015-16 and 2017-18 (2 Years)
  • 9 Improved in Both 1-Year and 2-Year
  • 11 Declined Between 2017-17 and 2017-18 (1 Year)
  • 16 Declined Between 2015-16 and 2017-18 (2 Years)
  • 8 Declined in Both 1-Year and 2-Year
  • Largest 1-Year Improvement:
    • Terry +17.13
    • Fulbright +11.21
    • Western Hills +10.8
  • Largest 2-Year Improvement:
    • Dodd +15.69
    • Williams +12.31
    • Fulbright +12.11
    • King +10.07
  • Largest 1-Year Decline
    • Gibbs -25.85
    • Jefferson -18.08
    • Stephens -13.97
    • Washington -13.08
    • Romine -10.6
  • Largest 2-Year Decline
    • Washington -16.88
    • Baseline -12.29
    • Stephens -11.77
    • McDermott -10.95
  • Greatest Percentage 2-Year Improvement
    • Dodd +180.34%
    • Bale +112.18%
    • King +46.62%
  • Greatest Percentage 2-Year Decline
    • Washington -85.69%
    • Stephens -69.64%
    • Baseline -52.52%

And what of Middle Schools?

LRSD School  2015-16  2016-17  2017-18  1-Year Growth/Decline  2-Year Growth/Decline 
 Dunbar 6th  24.0  30.0  18.9  -11.1  -5.1
 Dunbar 7th  24.3  24.10  17.02  -7.08  -7.28
 Dunbar 8th  38.9  41.50  32.55  -8.95  -6.35
           
 Forest Heights STEM 6th  65.4  61.6  59.29  -2.31  -6.11
 Forest Heights STEM 7th  63.5  67.10  61.96  -5.14  -1.54
 Forest Heights STEM 8th  55.3  72.8  71.91  -0.89  +16.61
           
 Henderson 6th  18.10  18.9  13.94  -4.96  -4.16
 Henderson 7th  20.10  15.0  12.72  -2.28  -7.38
 Henderson 8th  26.4  34.6  27.19  -7.41  +0.79
           
 Mabelvale 6th  11.4  19.5  23.00  +3.5  +11.6
 Mabelvale 7th  15.6  14.0  19.68  +5.68  +4.08
 Mabelvale 8th  31.0  32.5  25.26  -7.24  -5.74
           
 Mann 6th  39.0  38.4  29.89  -8.54  -9.11
 Mann 7th  37.9  36.6  37.70  -1.1   -0.2
 Man 8th  42.30  44.7  46.88  +2.18  +4.58
           
 Pinnacle View 6th  NA  54.3  63.07  +8.77  NA
 Pinnacle View 7th  NA  NA  42.86  NA  NA
           
 Pulaski Heights 6th  39.5  41.6  49.25  +7.65  +9.75
 Pulaski Heights 7th  41.3  42.8  37.84  -4.96  -3.46
 Pulaski Heights 8th  53.6  50.9  53.60  +2.7  0


And High Schools?

LRSD School 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 1-Year Growth/Decline 2-Year Growth/Decline
 Central 9th  41.70  43.8  NA  NA  NA
 Central 10th  44.10  41.5  NA  NA  NA
           
 Fair 9th  13.0  15.4  8.76  -6.64  -4.24
 Fair 10th  12.4  12.9  10  -2.9  -2.4
           
 Hall 9th  8.7  10.5 12.01  +1.96  +3.31
 Hall 10th  6.8  11.9  7.02  -4.88  +0.22
           
 McClellan 9th  11.0  13.8  10.68  -3.12  -0.32
 McClellan 10th  9.1  14.0  13.87  -0.13  +4.77
           
Parkview 9th  36.9  44.7  34.75  -9.95  -2.15
Parkview 10th  28.9  44.3  29.64  -14.66  +0.74

 

Across the district, over the past two years, some schools have improved in each grade:

  • Brady
  • Dodd
  • Rockefeller
  • Hall

While others have declined in each grade:

  • Dunbar
  • Fair

Unacceptably, some schools' grade percentage of students meeting/exceeding readiness in Reading is in single digits, at least 32 points below an abysmal 2016-17 state average of 41%:

  • Bale 5th 7.25%
  • Baseline 5th 5.77%
  • Stephens 3rd 5.13%
  • Washington 3rd 2.82%
  • Washington 4th 5.09%
  • Watson 3rd 7.14%
  • Fair 9th 8.76%
  • Hall 10th 7.02%

Even though the district is in state control, only eleven of 28 elementary schools participated in the Arkansas Department of Education’s RISE (Reading Initiative for Student Success). By contrast, 16 of Springdale’s 18 elementary schools participated in the grades K-2 professional development.

Some building leaders in the district are self-identifying as "Turnaround Principals." Data show their already under-performing schools have indeed been turned around. Unfortunately, many times it is in the wrong direction.

We understand that it was not appointees of the current Governor who thankfully voted to intervene in the Little Rock School District. It is, however, the appointees of the current Governor who are charged with turning around a district which has generationally failed its students, families, community and state.

When the largest and richest district in Arkansas history is controlled by the Commissioner of Education, Arkansas Department of Education, and State Board of Education, it betrays both the RISE Initiative and Student-focused Education to allow adults to continue to continue to deny basic literacy to generations of students.

It also sets a terrible example for the rest of the state's districts and charters.

Perhaps most egregiously, the same associate superintendents in charge of elementary, middle and high schools when the state took over the district - because of Academic Distress in elementary (1), middle (2) and high schools (3) - are still in charge of their respective areas. It's akin to bringing in Chad Morris, but keeping all of Bret Bielema's assistants.

Disruption is long overdue and must come boldly, swiftly and competently. If not, failure in the Little Rock School District will have three authors - local, federal and state.

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Arkansas's Recent History of Summative Assessments: Lies and Denial, Truth and Spin

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, July 6, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Prior to 2014, Arkansas administered its own Benchmark summative test. In its final year, results said the following percentages of Arkansas students were Proficient/Advanced:

Grades Math Literacy  Science 
 3-8 Overall  72%  78%  47%
 3  84%  77%  
 4  76%  83%  
 5  68%  82%  57%
 6  73%  69%  
 7  69%  77%  37%
 8  64%  77%  


It was a lie.

In 2014, the state switched to the nationally-normed PARCC summative test.

Results showed the following percentages Met or Exceeded Expectations:

Grades  Math  Literacy 
3-10 Overall  24%  34%


PARCC told the truth.

In 2015, we opposed the State's changing its summative assessment from PARCC to ACT Aspire.

It did it anyway.

So, three years in, how is Arkansas and the state's largest district, which the State controls, doing on the State's preferred assessment?

Arkansas
(Percentage Meeting/Exceeding Readiness)
Note: Because of changes to the assessment's cut scores, the Arkansas Department of Education has deemed Literacy scores incomparable with previous years. So, we have only included the four categories comparable to previous years.)


Grades
3-10 Overall
7 9 10 
2016 Reading   38.87  35.13  41.38  33.64  45.64  36.19  48.29  36.23  34.61
2016 English  67.91  71.86  67.77  73.46  71.01  77.53  70.95  54.24  56.26
2016 Math  43.25  56.08  53.89  48.37  55.46  43.61  38.02  28.38  22.53
2016 Science  37.88  36.59  39.07  39.30  52.35  40.94  38.61  27.18  29.30

                 
2017 Reading  40.60  37.00   43.18  34.55  46.63  38.69  48.99  39.41  36.38
2017 English  69.96  73.15  69.66  72.43  73.96  78.58  73.27  58.46  60.13
2017 Math  48.23  59.53  56.27  53.28  62.91  49.44  45.24  31.51  26.20
2017 Science  41.63  39.20  43.49  42.81  50.06  45.69  43.39  33.47  35.11
                   
2018 Reading  NA  37.77  44.12  38.06  45.06  39.83  51.09  38.07  33.93
2018 English  NA  73.46  70.72  72.94  73.12  78.66  74.88  58.27  59.76
2018 Math  46.93  59.36  52.49  49.97  56.43  47.32  46.40  33.73  28.65
2018 Science  39.78  38.62  42.17  40.80  45.93  42.94  42.23  32.76  32.58
                   
1-Year Reading Growth/Decline
 NA  +0.77  +0.94  +3.51  -1.57  +1.14  +2.1  -1.34  -0.68
2-Year Reading Growth/Decline 
 NA  +2.64  +2.74  +4.42  -0.58  +3.64  +3.0  +1.84  -2.45
                   
1-Year English Growth/Decline
 NA  +0.31  +1.06  +0.51  -0.84  +0.08  +1.61  -0.19  -0.37
2-Year English Growth/Decline
 NA  +1.60  +2.95  -0.52  +2.05  +1.13  +3.93  +4.03  +3.50
                   
1-Year Math Growth/Decline
 -1.30  -.17  -3.78  -3.31  -6.48  -2.12  +1.16  +2.22  +2.45
2-Year Math Growth/Decline
 +3.68  +3.28  -1.40  +1.61  +.97  +3.71  +8.38  +5.35  +6.12
                   
1-Year Science Growth/Decline
 -1.85  -.58  -1.32  -2.01  -4.13  -2.75  -1.16  -.71  -2.53
2-Year Science Growth/Decline
 +1.90  +2.03  +3.10  +1.50  -6.42  +4.33  +3.62  +5.58  +3.28

 

  • In the second year, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, in 32 opportunities (Overall, Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Arkansas's students improved 30 times. The only times they didn't were in Grade 5 English and Grade 6 Science.
  • In the third year, between 2016-17 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Arkansas's students only improved 13 times - Grades 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 Reading, Grades 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 English, and Grades 8, 9 and 10 Math.
  • Over two years, between 2015-16 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Arkansas's student improved 27 times. The only times they didn't were in Grades 6 and 10 Reading, Grade 5 English, Grade 4 Math, and Grade 6 Science.

In the second year, 93.75% of Arkansas's grades improved.

In the third year, only 40.63% of Arkansas's grades improved.

Over two years, 84.38% of Arkansas's grades improved.

 

And what about the three-and-a-half year state-controlled Little Rock School District?

Little Rock School District
(Percentage Meeting/Exceeding Readiness)


Grades
3-10 Overall
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2016 Reading  30.03  31.60  32.90  26.30  29.20  29.50  37.80  26.50  26.30
2016 English  56.90  63.90  56.80  64.60  56.30  64.50  59.40  42.90  44.20
2016 Math  32.61  48.10  41.60  38.30  39.00  28.90  23.50  18.70  15.60
2016 Science  26.15  31.60  30.90  28.40  29.90  26.60  22.40  18.00  18.90

 
2017 Reading  32.23  31.90  34.70  28.80  33.90  28.70  40.07  29.30  30.40
2017 English  58.76  64.30  60.00  64.50  61.40  65.00  61.10  42.80  49.30
2017 Math  37.91  51.33  47.85  41.74  47.26  35.05  30.84  22.78  18.49
2017 Science  30.16  31.40  36.81  31.16  32.12  31.84  31.13  21.10  24.08
 
2018 Reading  NA  32.29  36.26  30.70  35.29  29.22  38.24  26.15  24.49
2018 English  NA  63.47  61.70  62.50  60.01  69.19  61.29  40.25  45.47
2018 Math  35.65  50.68  41.00  39.35  40.31  32.85  31.74  22.13  20.80
2018 Science  26.68  30.35  32.78  31.51  33.06  28.69  28.09  19.93  22.68
                   
1-Year Reading Growth/Decline  NA  +0.39  +1.56  +1.9  +1.39  +0.52  -1.83  -3.15  -5.91
2-Year Reading Growth/Decline  NA  +0.69  +3.36  +4.40  +5.79  -0.28  +0.44  -0.35  -1.81

                 
1-Year English Growth/Decline  NA  -0.83  +1.70  -2.0  -1.39  +4.19  +0.19  -2.55  -3.83
2-Year English Growth/Decline  NA  -0.43  +4.90  -2.1  +3.71  +4.69  +1.89  -2.65  +1.27
                   
 1-Year Math Growth/Decline  -2.26  -.65  -6.85  -2.39  -6.95  -2.20  +.9  -.65  +2.31
 2-Year Math Growth/Decline  +3.04  +2.58  -.60  +1.05  +1.31  +3.95  +8.24  +3.43  +1.9
                   
1-Year Science Growth/Decline  -3.48  -1.05  -4.03  +.35  +.94  -3.15  -3.04  -1.17  -1.40
2-Year Science Growth/Decline  +.53  -1.25  +1.88  +3.11  +3.16  +2.09  +5.69  +1.93  +3.78

 

  • In the second year, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science) the Little Rock School District's students improved 28 times. The only time they didn't improve was in Grade 7 Reading, Grades 5 and 9 English, and Grade 3 Science.
  • In the third year, between 2016-17 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), the Little Rock School District's students improved 12 times - Grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Reading, Grades 4, 7 and 8 English, Grades 8 and 10 Math, and Grades 5 and 6 Science.
  • Over two years, between 2015-16 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Little Rock School District's student improved 24 times. The only times they didn't were in Grades 7, 9 and 10 Reading, Grade 3, 5 and 9 English, Grade 4 Math, and Grade 3 Science.

In the second year, 87.5% of Little Rock School District's grades improved.

In the third year, only 37.5% of Little Rock School District's grades improved.

Over two years, 75% of Little Rock School District's grades improved.

 

While the State and district rightfully trumpeted growth between 2015-16 and 2016-17, it must rightfully accept responsibility for declines between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Otherwise, Arkansas's recent history of summative assessments may best be summed up as follows:

  • Pre-2014: Lies and Denial
  • 2014-15: Truth
  • 2015-16: Truth
  • 2016-17: Truth
  • 2017-18: Truth and Spin

While the latter is preferable to the former, only acceptance of responsibility for the truth as a catalyst for immediate prioritization of Arkansas students will pull our state and dstrict out of its educational and individual/community economic development emergency.

Here's the link for the Arkansas Department of Education's news release: Arkansas' ACT Aspire Results Show Growth; ACT Results for Grade 11 Hold Steady

In our opinion, calling slightly declining scores "steady," while calling slightly increasing scores "improving" is spin unworthy of the Department.

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Walling Off Districts, 'Pick and Choose' Transfers vs. Equal Access for All

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Only two Arkansas school boards, which could choose to participate in Inter-district School Choice, have sought and received exemptions because of conflicting federal court orders:

The seven school boards of Garland County have no choice, as their districts are precluded from participating because they are under an active federal court order.

Camden Fairview has been granted exemption only on transfers to/from Harmony Grove, which is the only district specifically mentioned in its consent decree.

The basis of Jacksonville/North Pulaski's exemption is the 2014 Desegregation Settlement Agreement, which was written (poorly and with inequitable conditions) by its attorneys when they ran the Attorney General's office. The Agreement expires at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year, so unless U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall, Jr. allows otherwise, JNPSD will be compelled to participate in Inter-district School Choice in 2019-20.

Last year, when the State Board of Education voted in favor of parents' appeal of El Dorado's denial, the district's attorneys - Allen P. Roberts, P.A. of Camden - beat a path to U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey seeking a federal blessing of their client's exemption. Inexplicably, the State of Arkansas did not intervene on behalf of its State Board of Education, and El Dorado's attorneys were able to make their case with no opposition. As a result, the judge ruled in their favor.

When the State Board also sided with parents over the Hope School District's denial, its attorneys - also the Roberts firm - tried the same tactic in Judge Hickey's court. This time, however, the State of Arkansas intervened, and that case remains undecided.

Most recently, the State Board denied claims of exemption for the 2018-19 school year:

All are represented by the Roberts Firm, which upon denial, rushed to its favorite mouthpiece to proclaim the State Board's decision segregative and its actions a "nullification" of federal law.

Not that they matter to the firm, its blog mouthpiece, or the status quo, but here are the facts:

Rather than participating in Inter-district School Choice, which is open to all, the firm's clients have long participated in "Legal Transfers," which require the permission of both the resident and receiving school districts. This method allows the districts to "pick and choose" who gets in or out.

As a result, El Dorado - the go to example of the lawyers and home of the El Dorado Promise (which began in 2007) - routinely denies all transfers from non-resident African-Americans, while accepting nearly all non-resident White students. Conversely, it rarely allows any resident White students to leave, while letting nearly all resident African-American students go.

As a result, since 2009-10, when El Dorado accelerated its acceptance of non-resident White students (from 2 to 103), the district has averaged 68.22 non-resident students - 58.55 White (85.83%), and 5 Black students (7.33%). And yet, the district's attorneys have the audacity to call the State's law segregative. Clearly the districts and their attorneys are valuing creation and defense of artificially created racial percentages over equal access for all. But, over the past 13 years, their actions have done nothing to stem the decline of both White and Black students in each of their districts.


Camden Fairview

Enrollment by Race Total  2 or More Races Asian  Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan 
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander 
White  Percentage White 
 2004-05  2,939  0  13  1,856  10  5  0  1,055  35.90%
 2005-06  2,807  0  8  1,802  16  5  0  976  34.77%
 2006-07  2,729  0  7  1,730  21  6  0  965  35.36%
 2007-08  2,576  0  12  1,629  27  4  0  904  35.09%
 2008-09  2,478  0  14  1,581  30  4  0  849  34.26%
 2009-10  2,455  43  17  1,521  26  3  3  842  34.30%
 2010-11  2,438  70  14  1,478  42  0  4  830  34.04%
 2011-12  2,425  81  15  1,481  40  0  4  804  33.15%
 2012-13  2,429  90  13  1,456  44  1  3  822  33.84%
 2013-14  2,437  88  11  1,453  52  1  4  828  33.98%
 2014-15  2,567  102  12  1,553  54  3  4  839  32.68%
 2015-16  2,554  107  11  1,561  54  1  4  816  31.95%
 2016-17  2,511  107  13  1,519  62  1  4  805  32.06%
 2017-18  2,477  114  12  1,495  61  3  3  789  31.85%
 13-Year Numerical   Increase/Decrease  -462  +71  -1  -361  +51  -2  0  -266  
 13-Year Percentage   Increase/Decrease  -15.72%  +165.12%  -9.23%  -19.45%  +500.1%  -40%  0%  -25.21%  
  • The City of Camden is 39.5% White. The district is 31.85% White.
School Choice by Race Total Enrollment 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Total Choice  Percentage White Percentage Enrollment 
 2004-05   2,939  0  0  6  0  0  0  0  6  0%  .20%
 2005-06  2,807  0  0  4  0  0  0  0  4  0%  .14%
 2006-07  2,729  0  0  3  0  0  0  0  3  0%  .11%
 2007-08  2,576  0  0  3  0  0  0  0  3  0%  .12%
 2008-09   2,478  0  0  3  0  0  0  0  3  0%  .12%
 2009-10  2,455  0  0  3  0  0  0  4  7  57.14%  .29%
 2010-11  2,438  0  0  3  0  0  0  3  6  50%  .25%
 2011-12  2,425  0  0  3  0  0  0  2  5  40%  .21%
 2012-13  2,429  0  0  0  0  0  0  2  2  100%  .08%
 2013-14  2,437  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  100%  .04%
 2014-15  2,567  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  100%  .04%
 2015-16  2,554  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  100%  .04%
 2016-17  2,511  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  100%  .04%
 2017-18  2,477  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  100%  .08%
 13-Year Numerical   Increase/Decrease  -462  0  0  -6  0  0  0  -3  -5  

 13-Year Percentage   Increase/Decrease

 -15.72%  0%  0%  -100%  0%  0%  %  -75%  -83.33%  

 

El Dorado

Enrollment by Race Total 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Percentage White
 2004-05  4,565  0  36  2,489  83  4  0  1,953  42.78%
 2005-06  4,577  0  33  2,495  138  4  0  1,907  41.66%
 2006-07  4,430  0  31  2,461  144  6  0  1,788  40.36%
 2007-08  4,570  0  34  2,480  175  5  0  1,876  41.05%
 2008-09  4,625  0  30  2,463  205  3  0  1,924  41.6%
 2009-10  4,625  30  34  2,416  222  6  0  1,917  41.45%
 2010-11  4,646  36  49  2,365  254  5  0  1,937  41.69%
 2011-12  4,581  52  44  2,309  262  3  0  1,911  41.72%
 2012-13  4,474  77  37  2,246  277  5  0  1,832  40.95%
 2013-14  4,516  101  49  2,256  302  4  0  1,804  39.95%
 2014-15  4,502  111  50  2,216  343  3  0  1,779  39.52%
 2015-16  4,522  135  56  2,220  379  6  0  1,726  38.17%
 2016-17  4,403  130  50  2,154  404  6  3  1,656  37.61%
 2017-18  4,411  123  60  2,162  394  5  0  1,667  37.79%
13-Year Numerical Increase/Decrease  -154  +93  +24  -327  +311  +1  0  -286  

13-Year Percentage Increase/Decrease

 -3.37%  +310%  -66.67%  -13.14%  +374.7%   +25%  0%  -14.64%  

 

  • The City of El Dorado is 44.5% White. The district is 37.79% White.
School Choice by Race Total Enrollment 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Total Choice Percentage White Percentage Enrollment
 2004-05  4,565  0  0  4  0  0  0  0  4  0%  .09%
 2005-06   4,577  0  0  6  0  0  0  0  6  0%  .13%
 2006-07   4,430  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  0%  .02%
 2007-08  4,570  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  0%  .02%
 2008-09  4,625  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  2  0%  .04%
 2009-10  4,625  1  1  7  2  0  0  92  103  89.32%  2.23%
 2010-11  4,646  1  2  7  3  0  0  88  101  87.13%  2.17%
 2011-12  4,581  1  2  4  1  0  0  68  76  89.47%  1.66%
 2012-13  4,474  1  1  4  1  0  0  53  60  88.33%  1.34%
 2013-14  4,516  2  1  7  2  0  0  56  68  82.35%  1.51%
 2014-15  4,502  3  1  6  2  1  0  48  61  78.69%  1.35%
 2015-16  4,522  3  1  4  2  0  0  45  55  81.82%  1.22%
 2016-17  4,403  2  0  3  2  1  0  40  48  83.33%  1.09%
 2017-18  4,411  2  0  3  0  0  0  37  42  88.1%  .95%
 13-Year Numerical   Increase/Decrease  -154  +1  0  -1  -2  0  0  -55  +38
 13-Year   Percentage     Increase/Decrease  -3.37%  +100%  0%  -25%  -100%  0%  0%  -59.78%  +950%

 

Hope
 
Enrollment by Race Total 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Percentage White
 2004-05  2,767  0  0  1,407  447  4  0  901  32.56%
 2005-06  2,711  0  7  1,371  542  5  0  843  31.1%
 2006-07  2,635  0  5  1,361  542  7  0  720  27.32%
 2007-08  2,601  0  6  1,305  556  9  0  725  27.87%
 2008-09  2,550  0  11  1,255  587  6  0  691  27.1%
 2009-10  2,541  0  12  1,214  634  6  12  663  26.09%
 2010-11  2,493  0  7  1,173  678  5  5  625  25.07%
 2011-12  2,460  0  6  1,153  691  5  2  603  24.51%
 2012-13  2,489  11  9  1,161  706  3  1  598  24.03%
 2013-14  2,489  9  4  1,163  726  3  2  582  23.38%
 2014-15  2,501  10  9  1,157  743  3  0  579  23.15%
 2015-16  2,492  18  8  1,151  773  4  0  538  21.59%
 2016-17  2,349  27  8  1,081  758  2  0  473  20.14%
 2017-18  2,247  33  8  1,022  774  4  0  406  18.07%
 13-Year Numerical
 Increase/Decrease
 -520  +22  +1  -385  +327  0  -12  -495
 13-Year Percentage   Increase/Decrease  -18.79%  +200%  +14.29% -19.45% +500.1%  0%  -100%  -54.94%
  • The only inter-district school choice Hope had for the period was one White student in 2014-15.
  • The City of Hope is 34% White. The district is 18.07% White.
 

Junction City

Enrollment by Race Total 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Percentage White
 2004-05  670  0  0  199  4  2  0  465  69.40%
 2005-06  686  0  0  200  8  2  0  476  69.39%
 2006-07  660  0  0  216  5  1  0  438  66.36%
 2007-08  611  0  0  198  4  2  0  407  66.61%
 2008-09  585  0  0  187  5  1  0  392  67.01%
 2009-10  550  1  0  181  4  1  1  362  65.82%
 2010-11  547  0  0  180  7  1  0  359  65.63%
 2011-12  518  1  0  168  7  1  0  341  65.83%
 2012-13  526  1  0  148  7  1   0  369  70.15%
 2013-14  533  1  0  156  7  1  0  368  69.04%
 2014-15  679  0  0  252  13  1  0  413  60.82%
 2015-16  660  0  1  248  17  1  0  393  59.55%
 2016-17  680  0  0  269  14  1  0  396  58.24%
 2017-18  673  0  2  253  20  2  0  396  58.84%
 13-Year Numerical
 Increase/Decrease
 +3  -1  +1  +54  +16  0  0  +69

 13-Year   Percentage
 Increase/Decrease

 +.44%  -100%  +100%  +28.42%  +400%  0%  0%  +14.84%

 

  • The City of Junction City is 53% White. The district is 58.84% White.
School Choice by Race Total Enrollment 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Total Choice Percentage White Percentage Enrollment
 2004-05  670  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0%  0%
 2005-06  686  0  0  5  0  0  0  0  5  0%  .73%
 2006-07  660  0  0  9  1  0  0  0  10  0%  1.52%
 2007-08  611  0  0  5  1  0  0  0  6  0%  .98%
 2008-09  585  0  0  3  1  0  0  0  4  0%  .68%
 2009-10  550  0  0  3  0  0  0  1  4  .18%  .73%
 2010-11  547  0  0  7  0  0  0  3  10  .55%  1.83%
 2011-12  518  0  0  6  0  0  0  0  6  0%  1.16%
 2012-13  526  0  0  6  0  0  0  2  8  .38%  1.52%
 2013-14  533  0  0  6  0  0  0  2  8  .38%  1.5%
 2014-15  679  0  0  5  0  0  0  2  7  .29%  1.03%
 2015-16  660  0  0  3  0  0  0  0  3  0%  .45%
 2016-17  680  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  2  0%  .29%
 2017-18  673  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  0%  .15%
 13-Year Numerical   Increase/Decrease  +3  0 0  -4  -1  0  0  -1  -4
 13-Year Percentage    Increase/Decrease  +.44%  0% 0%  -80%  -100% 0%  0%  -100%  -80%
  • Junction City enrollment grew 27.4% (+146 students) between 2013-14 and 2014-15 - +96 Black and +45 White. The district accepts Louisiana residents, a School Choice right it denies Arkansans. Inexplicably, it includes those students in its enrollment total.
 
Lafayette County

Enrollment by Race Total 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian
Pacific Islander
White Percentage White
 2004-05  993  0  0  576  8  0  0  409  41.19%
 2005-06  933  0  3  551  2  0  0  377  40.41%
 2006-07   921  0  2  563  4  2  0  350  38%
 2007-08  876  0  2  530  9  1  0  334  38.13%
 2008-09  771  0  2  498  6  1  0  264  34.24%
 2009-10  801  9  2  495  14  0  1  280  34.96%
 2010-11  763  11  2  468  11  0  0  271  35.52%
 2011-12  681  13  1  409  15  0  0  243  35.68%
 2012-13  704  9  0  422  15  0  0  258  36.65%
 2013-14  689  11  0  390  16  0  0  272  39.48%
 2014-15  648  10  0  392  14  0  0  232  35.80%
 2015-16  628  10  0  389  19  0  0  210  33.44%
 2016-17  583  11  2  369  13  0  0  188  32.24%
 2017-18  583  14  1  356  17  0  0  195  33.45%
 13-Year Numerical
 Increase/Decrease
 -410  +5  -2  -220  +9  -2  -1  -214

 13-Year Percentage   Increase/Decrease

 -42.29%  +55.56%  -66.67%  -38.19%  +112.5%  -100%  -100%  -52.32%
  • The only inter-district school choice Lafayette County had for the period was one Black student in 2004-05.
  • Lafayette County is 59% White. The district is 33.45% White.

Quick Facts

  • The Roberts Firm-represented districts - excepting Junction City's inexplicable increase - lost more Black (-1,293) than White students (-1,261)
  • The Roberts Firm-represented districts currently have more White (+38) non-resident transfer students, than Black (+4)
  • The Roberts Firm-represented districts - excepting Junction City's Louisiana enrollment - have declined in enrollment 1,546 students (-13.73%)
  • The Roberts Firm-represented Junction City is 58.84% White, while the City is only 53%. There are only two demographic reasons to exempt from School Choice - Keep some students in; keep some students out.
  • The Roberts Firm-represented Hope has a 16 point gap between its City's White percentage (34%) and its district's (18.07%). Using the Roberts Firm's logic, exemption from School Choice has fomented White Flight.
  • The Roberts Firm-represented Lafayette County has a 27 point gap between the county's White percentage (59%) and its districts (33.45%). Using the Roberts Firm's logic, exemption from School Choice has fomented White Flight.

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Arkansas School Choice: 2017-18

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

14,123 (2.9%) of Arkansas's 479,258 public school students chose to attend school in a district not of their residence. The most chosen among the state's 238 districts ranged from North to South, East to West, rural to urban. Here are the leaders:

District Number of Non-resident dStudents
Greene Co. Tech 566
Southside (Independence Co.) 505
Bauxite 432
Paragould 397
Alma 373
Benton 368
Lakeside (Garland Co.) 348
West Memphis 267
Pottsville 255
North Little Rock 248
Valley View 242
West Fork 226
White Hall 221
Poyen 217
Harmony Grove (Saline Co.) 213
Greenwood 194
Palestine-Wheatley 186 
Brookland 183
Nettleton 182
Jonesboro 182
Farmington 180
Hoxie 176
Watson Chapel 175
Elkins 167
Mountain Home 160
Pea Ridge 156
Lawrence County 154
Greenbrier 148
Perryville 146
Pocahontas 132
Van Buren 128
Magnet Cove 115
Hot Springs 111
Lake Hamilton 107
Cave City 102
Fayetteville 100

 

And here are the leaders of non-resident students as percentage of overall enrollment:

District Percentage of Non-resident Students
Poyen 36%
Southside (Independence Co.) 27%
Bauxite 25%
West Fork 23%
Palestine-Wheatley 23%
Hoxie 21%
Harmony Grove (Saline Co.) 17%
Lawrence County 17%
Magnet Cove 16%
Perryville 16%
Greene Co. Tech 16%
Pottsville 15%
Magazine 14%
Woodlawn 14%
Caddo Hills 14%
Elkins 13%
Armorel 13%
Paragould 13%
Dierks 12%
Marmaduke 12%
Alma 12%
Cotter 11%
Spring Hill 11%
Cutter-Morning Star 11%
Emerson-Taylor 10%
Lakeside (Garland Co.) 10%
Danville 10%

 

Some fast facts:

  • 218 school districts received at least one non-resident student via School Choice
  • 18 school districts participating in School Choice received zero non-resident students
  • Four school districts claiming exemptions from School Choice still received non-resident students
    • El Dorado - 42 (See more below)
    • Texarkana - 3
    • Junction City - 1 (plus Louisiana resident students) (See more below)
    • Camden Fairview - 1
  • Seven school districts in Garland County, precluded from School Choice by a U.S. District Judge, were among the state's leaders receiving non-resident students (see Garland County below). Unfortunately, rather than equal access for all, the Court considers race in approving transfers, which sometimes divides blended, bi-racial families
  • 115 school districts have at least 3% of their enrollment from non-residents

Sadly, the residents of six Arkansas school districts were denied choice by their boards. Five of those districts were counseled by the same law firm - Allen P. Roberts PA of Camden. The newly elected board of the Pulaski County Special School District fired the firm last year (along with its superintendent) and unanimously voted to participate in and benefit from Inter-district School Choice beginning in 2018. Texarkana, also represented by the Roberts firm, will not exempt in 2018-19.

Unfortunately, the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District did not follow PCSSD's lead, as it did on exemption. The claimed basis for its exemption, the Desegregation Settlement Agreement - written by the district's attorneys when they were in the Attorney General's Office - expires at the end of next year. So, unless U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall, Jr. intervenes, the district should be participating in School Choice in 2019. Here are the districts claiming exemptions for 2018-19, linked to their anachronistic and non-conflicting excuses:

Finally, the Arkansas Department of Education, under the leadership of Commissioner Johnny Key, has denied the proposed exemptions of Camden Fairview (except for transfers to/from Harmony Grove), Hope, Junction City, and Lafayette County. Those appeals are expected before the State Board of Education in March. Hope and the State of Arkansas are currently in federal court regarding that district's claimed exemption from state law.

 

El Dorado School District

Unlike Inter-district School Choice, which is open to all, but capped at 3% per year, Legal Transfers require agreement by both the resident and receiving school boards and have no cap. In other words, rather than equal access for all, who gets in (or out) is picked and chosen by boards and administrations.

As a result, even though the El Dorado School District is 49% African-American, only 7% of its current 42 non-resident students are African-American, while 88% are White.

The district admits it generally lets in any White non-residents and generally lets out any resident African-Americans. The reverse means it generally traps resident White students and denies entry to non-resident African-Americans. To what end? El Dorado uses "Legal Transfers" to increase its White enrollment and reduce its African-American. It's tantamount to demographic eugenics.

The El Dorado Promise, which pays up to 100% of college tuition and fees for El Dorado High School graduates, began in 2007. The El Dorado School District's "pick and choose" method of determining non-resident transfers is disproportionately denying African-Americans the Promise readily available to non-resident White students.

District 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American/
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian/
Pacific Islander
White Total
El Dorado 2 0 3
0 0 37 42

 

Junction City

For generations, Junction City has accepted enrollment of Louisiana residents into its district. So, what it denies Arkansas residents, it readily grants Louisiana residents and their accompanying dollars.

 

Garland County

The seven school districts of Garland County are precluded by a U.S. District Judge from participating in Inter-district School Choice. However, under the Court's supervision, the districts still send and receive transfers based on race, a method which has since been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here are the numbers and races of the respective districts' transfers in 2017-18:

District 2 or More Races Asian Black Hispanic Native American/
Native Alaskan
Native Hawaiian/
Pacific Islander
White Total
Cutter-Morningstar 12 0 2 9 1 1 43 68
Fountain Lake 5 0 1 8 2 0 53 69
Hot Springs 6 3 8 16 0 0 78 111
Jessieville 2 0 2 1 0 1 66 72
Lake Hamilton 16 0 12 20 2 0 57 107
Lakeside 36 2 54 65 6 0 185 348
Mountain Pine 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 15
TOTAL 77 5 79 119 11 2 497 790

 

What's wrong with this picture? Under the guise of "desegregation," as in El Dorado, far more White students (63% of transfers), both in percentage and numbers, are benefitting from the districts' "pick-and-choose" transfers than African-American students (10% of transfers). And that's under court supervision! While the Court remains stuck on Black and White, because of blended, bi-racial families, there are examples of transfers being denied and approved within the same household.

Meanwhile, three of Garland County's seven school districts are among the state's leaders in receiving non-resident students:

  • Lakeside (348) - 7th
  • Hot Springs (111) - 33rd
  • Lake Hamilton (107) - 34th

And two are among the state's leaders in non-resident students as percentage of overall enrollment:

  • Cutter-Morning Star (12%) - 24th
  • Lakeside (11%) - 26th

A consensus among the districts to settle their federal court issue(s) seems to be emerging.

When it comes to equal access for all vs. creation, protection of arbitrary government (school board) determined racial percentages, we will always side with the former. While numbers don't lie, those - like Allen P. Roberts PA - calling school choice advocates "segregationists" do.

Source: https://adedata.arkansas.gov/statewide/Districts/SchoolChoice.aspx

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