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A Tale of Two Schools: The Creaming of Little Rock

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Saturday, March 12, 2016
Updated: Thursday, April 7, 2016

Most opponents of the expansions of eStem Public Charter Schools and LISA Academy base their position on two primary arguments:

  • Open-enrollment public charter schools "cream" the best students from the Little Rock School District; and
  • Application to open-enrollment public charter schools requires "more engaged parents."

Creaming

By pure open-enrollment, the demographics of both eStem Public Charter Schools and LISA Academy high schools more closely reflect the demographics of their community, the City of Little Rock, than do the Little Rock School District's magnet high schools. However, because of state-dictated enrollment caps, which the charters seek to expand, the schools may not materially impact their respective demographics. Students apply. If there is capacity, they are admitted. If there is not, they are added to a wait list.

By contrast, Little Rock School District's Central High School utilizes an expansive, gerrymandered attendance zone to reach the most affluent areas of Little Rock, to the detriment of Hall High School, which has been designated as Academic Distress. Then, for those living outside of the largest attendance zone in the district, there are complicated magnet (Gifted and Talented, International Studies) and transfer admissions which artificially dictate the school's enrollment. Out-of-zone admissions balloon enrollment to 170% of capacity, while the district's three Academic Distress schools are under capacity - Hall (83%), Fair (88%), and McClellan (66%).

To choose its enrollment, Parkview, which is at 98% capacity, has no attendance zone at all. That means 100% of its 1,000+ students enroll based on their parents'/guardians' ability to navigate the district's multi-layered magnet application process.

Those lucky enough to be admitted to Parkview or Central via their out-of-zone magnet applications receive district transportation, no matter where they live. Though eStem and LISA provide Rock Region Metro passes for their students, they are criticized for not offering "school" transportation. And yet, LRSD offers TNT (Transfer-No-Transportation) so students may attend any of its schools as long as there is capacity and they can get there on their own.

Even with all this extraordinary effort and preferential treatment, neither Central's nor Parkview's demographics reflect their community or school district. And since 2011, Central has been designated as a Focus School, one of the lowest performing 10% of schools in Arkansas.

High School
Enroll. Capacity FRL* White Hispanic Black Other SPED** LEP***
Central 2,489 1,460
(170%)
50% 29% 4% 57% 9% 6% 3%
Parkview 1,033 1,050
(98%)
59% 25% 15% 55% 5% 5% 10%
eStem PCS 506 506
(100%)
28% 37% 6% 49% 8% 6% 1%
LISA Academy 386 386
(100%)
34% 28% 12% 43% 17% 4% 1%
Little Rock 197,706 NA 18%**** 47% 6% 42% 5% NA NA
LRSD
23,363 26,235
(89%)
75% 18% 13% 66% 4% 11% 11%
eStem PCS 1,462 1,462
(100%)
32% 41% 6% 46% 7% 8% 2%
LISA (West) 797 800
(99.6%)
38% 27% 12% 42% 19% 5% 2%

*Free and Reduced Lunch
**Special Education
***Limited English Proficiency
****Federal Poverty Level

Application

To enroll in Little Rock School District Central:

  • If you live in Attendance Zone, register at school or Student Registration Office
    • New students complete:
    • Follow Registration Checklist
      • Child's official birth certificate, passport, military ID card or other documentation provided by law (ACA 6-18-210)
      • Child's social security card or number
      • Two forms of proof of residence, such as a lease agreement or current utility bill, in the parent or legal guardian's name within the past 30 days (no cell phone bills accepted) or personal property tax bill
      • Child's immunization records (provided to school after assignment)

  • If you live out of Attendance Zone:

School Choices
Educational choice provides parents with options on how best to educate their child, including school transfers and magnet school programs. Parents and students can take advantage of unique curriculum offerings, special emphasis programs and other activities. LRSD parents may apply for their child to attend a school outside of their attendance zone during a designated time period. The other options for requesting new assignments are detailed below.

What are our assignment options?
Each parent has an opportunity to request for their child an assignment to a school outside of their attendance zone. It is recommended that parents explore their options before processing requests by visiting the schools in which they are interested and gathering information about those schools. Staff in the Student Registration Office are available to assist parents who are seeking information about assignment options.

Magnet school and transfer applications for the following year may be submitted during the two-week January/February registration period and at times thereafter. These transfers are approved for entry at the start of the school year or at the beginning of second semester with few exceptions. Once a student has been placed at a school of choice, he/she may remain through the completion of that organizational level (elementary, middle, high school).

What magnet schools and programs are available?

Magnet schools - schools with a themed program designed to attract students from throughout the central Arkansas area - were introduced in the LRSD during the 1987-88 school year. The magnet schools are:

  • Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School
  • Horace Mann Arts and Science Magnet Middle School
  • Booker Arts Magnet Elementary School
  • Carver Math and Science Magnet Elementary School
  • Gibbs Magnet Elementary School of Foreign Language and International Studies
  • Williams Traditional Magnet Elementary School

How are magnet school assignments made?
LRSD parents interested in one of these schools must complete an Optional Enrollment Request Form (OERF). 

Students will be assigned based on a computerized random selection process (scramble). Therefore, no numbered waiting lists will exist. When additional seats become available, students wil be assigned and another scramble will be initiated to fill available seats. For more information, click here to review the magnet school assignment process flow chart.

The popularity of the magnet schools prompted the LRSD to create specialty/magnet programs at certain attendance zone schools. Parents may apply for their children to attend these specialty/magnet programs:

  • Central High School International Studies Magnet School
  • Parkview Arts & Science Magnet School
  • Dunbar Gifted & Talented / International Studies Magnet Middle School
  • Horace Mann Arts & Science Magnet School

How are transfers granted?
Parents may request a transfer for their child to attend a school other than the families' attendance zone school. Transfer applications are available during the initial two-week registration period in January/February and may be submitted throughout the year although these transfers are conditional based on the availability of seats at the school requested, so early application is recommended. Transfers will be granted for admission at the beginning of each school semester. Once approved, the student must attend a minimum of one semester.

What types of transfers are available?

TNT (Transfer/No Transportation) Transfer
TNT is an intradistrict transfer for students wishing to transfer from one attendance zone school to another attendance zone school. Ample seats must be available at the requested school (a certain number of seats are set aside for attendance zone students). Elementary student applications may be submitted throughout the year, although placement will occur only at the start of each semester. No transportation is provided by the district. A student is allowed one (1) TNT transfer per school year.

Staff Preference Transfer
LRSD employees who reside in the LRSD may request that their children attend the school in which they work with the exception of the stipulation magnet schools. Transfers will be granted if space is available and all attendance zone students have been assigned. Staff Preference Transfers are granted to students whose parents or legal guardians are LRSD staff members. No transportation is provided by the district. Click here to download the application.

Appeals Committee Transfer
Students who have a special need arising out of unique circumstances may request in writing a reassignment to a non-attendance zone school. Appeals requests will not be considered for magnet schools/programs. The Appeals Committee meets monthly to consider requests. No transportation is provided by the district. Appeals are reviewed during various times throughout the school year.

Arkansas Act 624 Transfer
LRSD employees who reside outside of the LRSD may apply for a transfer for their child to attend school in the LRSD. Application forms are available in the Student Registration Office. No transportation is provided by the district. Click here to download the application.

Arkansas School Choice
Families in the state of Arkansas may apply to attend a district other than the one in which they reside, subject to certain restrictions. Applications will be available at the Student Registration Office for students from various counties in Arkansas. The application period designated for Little Rock School District will be announced at a later date. If granted, no transportation will be provided by the district.

To enroll in Little Rock School District Parkview:

To enroll in eStem Public Charter Schools :

  • Click here, complete fields, submit
  • If capacity exists, student is admitted
  • If capacity does not exist, student is added to wait list

To enroll in LISA Academy:

  • Click here, compete fields, submit
  • If capacity exists, student is admitted
  • If capacity does not exist, student is added to wait list

If "more engaged parents" contribute to "creaming," which of the above require the most engagement?

Fact vs. Fiction 

"Creaming" has happened/is happening in Little Rock, but it is within the traditional school district, not among charters. And most disturbingly, all of this has happened/is happening on the watch of public education leaders who are some of the charter expansions' most vocal opponents:

  • 12-year Little Rock School Board member and current Superintendent Baker Kurrus,
  • Former two-term Little Rock School District President Greg Adams,
  • Little Rock School District Civic Advisory Committee,
  • Representative John Walker,
  • Senator Joyce Elliott,
  • Former State Board of Education Chairman Sam Ledbetter,
  • Little Rock Education Association President Cathy Koehler, and
  • Arkansas Public Policy Panel Executive Director Bill Kopsky.

Hope remains for individuals and/or groups willfully or negligently uninformed, those on the fence, and those yet to engage. Of course, reasonable minds may disagree on the merits of charter schools. But responsible advocates do not misrepresent or ignore facts to justify opinions.

Student Origin

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage
eStem Public Charter Schools 72201 (.4%) 72209 53 10.8%
72204 49 10%
72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 42 8.6%
72120 38 7.7%
72206 36 7.3%
72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 32 6.5%
72210 28 5.5%
72116 27 5.5%
72227 (Heights, Cammack Village) 21 4.3%
72118 19 3.8%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 18 3.7%
72117 17 3.5%
72076 16 3.3%
72112 (Pleasant Valley, WLR) 13 2.6%
72213 13 2.6%
72002 12 2.4%
72103 11 2.2%
72202 10 2%
72207 (Heights, Cammack Village) 7 1.4%
72015 4 .81%
72114 4 .81%
72142 4 .81%
72023 3 .61%
72109 2 .41%
72065 2 .41%
72086 2 .41%
School ZIP Code 72201 2 .41%
71603 1 .2%
72122 1 .2%
72135 1 .2%
72143 1 .2%
72150 1 .2%
72213 1 .2%
TOTAL 33 ZIP Codes
27.1% (133) from Named Neighborhoods
491 100%

 

High School Originating 8th Grade Schools No. of Students
eStem Public Charter Schools eStem Public Charter Schools 346
Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 15
LISA Academy (Charter) 14
Out-of-State 10
Covenant Keepers (Charter) 9
Dunbar Middle(LRSD) 9
Mann Middle (LRSD) 9
Lakewood Middle (NLRSD) 7
Christ the King (Private) 6
Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 5
Northwood Middle (PCSSD) 5
Bryant Middle 4
Maumelle Middle (PCSSD) 4
Holy Souls (Private) 3
Home School 3
Henderson Middle (LRSD) 3
Sylvan Hills Middle (PCSSD) 3
Arkansas River Valley Montessori (Private) 2
Arkansas Virtual Academy (Charter) 2
Embassy Academy (Private) 2
Little Rock Preparatory Academy (Charter) 2
Forest Heights Middle, STEM (LRSD) 2
Fuller Middle (PCSSD) 2
Robinson Middle (PCSSD) 2
Ahlf Jr. High (Searcy) 2
The Group School (Private) 2
Cloverdale Middle (LRSD) 1
St. Theresa's Catholic (Private) 1
NLRSD Middle (NLRSD) 1
Ridgeroad Middle (NLRSD) 1
Bauxite Middle 1
Benton Jr. High 1
Conway Jr. High 1
Forrest City Jr. High 1
Sheridan Middle 1
Abundant Life (Private) 1
Central Arkansas Christian Academy (Private) 1
Christ Lutheran (Private) 1
Episcopal Collegiate (Private) 1
Little Rock Christian Academy (Private) 1
New Life Christian Academy (Private) 1
North Little Rock Catholic Academy (Private) 1
St. Edward's Catholic (Private) 1
TOTAL 491

30% of eStem's enrollment entered high school from outside of charter. 44 students (9%) entered from the Little Rock School District. 36 (7%) came from other districts, 27 (5%) from other open-enrollment charters, 24 from Private (5%), 10 (2%) from Out-of-State, and 3 (.6%) from Home School. 

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage
LISA Academy (West) 72205 (12.7%) 72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 55 16.6%
72204 50 15.1%
School ZIP Code 72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 42 12.7%
72209 33 10%
72210 33 10%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 27 8.2%
72212 (Pleasant Valley, WLR) 15 4.5%
72206 13 3.9%
72103 12 3.6%
72227 (Foxcroft, Robinwood) 11 3.3%
72002 5 1.5%
72076 5 1.5%
72113 5 1.5%
72202 5 1.5%
72022 3 .91%
71923 2 .6%
72118 2 .6%
72135 2 .6%
72180 2 .6%
72207 (Heights, Cammack Village) 2 .6%
72114 1 .3%
72116 1 .3%
72117 1 .3%
72120 1 .3%
72142 1 .3%
72216 1 .3%
72219 1 .3%
TOTAL 27 ZIP Codes
45.9% (152) from Named Neighborhoods
331 100%

  

High School Originating 8th Grade Schools No. of Students
LISA Academy (West) LISA Academy 291
Covenant Keepers (Charter) 9
Dunbar Middle (LRSD) 3
Forest Heights STEM (LRSD) 3
Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 3
Mann Middle (LRSD) 3
Out-of-State 3
Out-of-Country 2
Robinson Middle (PCSSD) 2
Henderson Middle (LRSD) 1
Home School 1
Lakewood Middle (NLRSD) 1
Little Rock Preparatory Academy (Charter) 1
Maumelle Middle (PCSSD) 1
Mills High (PCSSD) 1
(Private) 1
Pulaski Academy (Private) 1
Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 1
Rogers 1
Sylvan Hills Middle (PCSSD) 1
Watson Chapel Jr. High 1
TOTAL 331

12% of LISA Academy high school students entered from outside the charter. 14 (4%) entered from the Little Rock School District. 11 (3%) came from other open-enrollment charters, 3 (1%) from Out-of-State, 2 (.6%) from Out-of-Country, 2 (.6%)  from other districts, 2 from Private (.6%), and 1 (.3%) from Home School. 

23% of Little Rock School District high school students entered from outside the district.

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage
Central (LRSD) 72202 (14.3%) 72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 365 15.5%
School ZIP Code 72202 337 14.3%
72206 326 13.9%
72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 313 13.2%
72204 236 10%
72207 (Heights, Cammack Village) 197 8.4%
72209 136 5.8%
72212 (Pleasant Valley, WLR) 124 5.3%
72227 (Foxcroft, Robinwood) 95 4%
72210 63 2.7%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 59 2.5%
72103 27 1.1%
72201 14 .59%
72076 9 .38%
72113 7 .29%
72135 7 .29%
72116 5 .21%
72117 4 .17%
72142 4 .17%
72002 3 .12%
72111 3 .12%
72120 3 .12%
72019 2 .08%
72118 2 .08%
72015 1 .04%
72203 1 .04%
72213 1 .04%
72217 1 .04%
72220 1 .04%
72221 1 .04%
72224 1 .04%
72250 1 .04%
72270 1 .04%
77220 1 .04%
TOTAL 34 ZIP Codes
49% (1,153) from Named Neighborhoods
2,351 100%

 

High School Originating 8th Grade Schools No. of Students
Central (LRSD) Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 593
Dunbar Middle (LRSD) 424
Mann Middle (LRSD) 257
Henderson Middle (LRSD) 200
Forest Heights Middle, STEM (LRSD) 118
Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 80
Cloverdale Middle (LRSD) 57
Out-of-District 622
TOTAL 2,351

 26% of Central's students entered from outside the district.

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage
Parkview (LRSD) 72204 (22%)
School ZIP Code
72204 231 (22%) 21.6%
72209 197 18.4%
72210 115 10.7%
72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 86 8.1%
72206 77 7.2%
72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 44 4.1%
72212 (Pleasant Valley, WLR) 36 3.4%
72103 34 3.2%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 31 2.9%
72207 (Heights, Cammack Village) 28 2.6%
72227 (Foxcroft, Robinwood) 28 2.6%
72202 27 2.5%
72076 25 2.3%
72117 23 2.2%
72120 23 2.2%
72118 19 1.8%
72116 13 1.2%
72113 10 .93%
72114 8 .75%
72002 4 .37%
72053 2 .19%
72065 2 .19%
72201 2 .19%
72135 1 .09%
72142 1 .09%
72113 1 .09%
TOTAL 26 ZIP Codes
23.7% (253) from Named Neighborhoods
1,068 100%

 

High School Originating 8th Grade No. of Students
Parkview (LRSD) Mann Middle (LRSD) 389
Henderson Middle (LRSD) 117
Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 100
Dunbar Middle (LRSD) 97
Forest Heights Middle, STEM (LRSD) 92
Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 58
Cloverdale Middle (LRSD) 40
Out-of-District 175
TOTAL 1,068

 16% of Parkview's students entered from outside the district.

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage 
Hall (LRSD) 72205 (11.4%) 72204 453  43.1%
72209 213  20.2%
School ZIP Code 72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 120  11.4%
72227 (Foxcroft, Robinwood) 75  7.1%
72206 31  2.9%
72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 30  2.9%
72202 25  2.4%
72210 25  2.4%
72103 18  1.7%
72212 (Pleasant Valley, WLR) 18  1.7%
72207 (Heights, Cammack Village) 17  1.6%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 17  1.6%
72002 2  .19%
72203 2  .19%
72076 1  .01%
72200 1  .01%
72201 1  .01%
72220 1  .01%
72277 1  .01%
83305 1  .01%
TOTAL 20 ZIP Codes
16.8% (277) from Named Neighborhoods
1,052  100%

 

High School Originating 8th Grade Schools No. of Students
Hall (LRSD) Henderson (LRSD) 203
Forest Heights Middle, STEM (LRSD) 184
Cloverdale Middle (LRSD) 112
Dunbar Middle (LRSD) 89
Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 63
Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 58
Mann Middle (LRSD) 31
Out-of-District 312
TOTAL 1,052

 30% of Hall's students entered from outside the district.

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage
Fair (LRSD) 72210 72209 291 36%
72204 247 30.5%
School ZIP Code 72210 121 15%
72103 77 9.5%
72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 15 1.9%
72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 15 1.9%
72206 12 1.5%
72227 (Foxcroft, Robinwood) 10 1.2%
72207 (Heights, Cammack Village) 7 .87%
72202 5 .62%
72002 4 .49%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 2 .25%
72110 1 .12%
72212 (Pleasant Valley, WLR) 1 .12%
72224 1 .12%
TOTAL 15 ZIP Codes
6.2% (50) from Named Neighborhoods
809 100%

 

High School Originating 8th Grade Schools No. of Students
Fair (LRSD) Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 307
Henderson Middle (LRSD) 156
Cloverdale Middle (LRSD) 71
Dunbar Middle (LRSD) 45
Mann Middle (LRSD) 32
Forest Heights Middle, STEM (LRSD) 30
Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 23
Out-of-District 145
TOTAL 809

 18% of Fair's students entered from outside the district.

 

High School Student Residence ZIP Codes No. of Students Percentage 
McClellan (LRSD) 72209 (74.7%)
School ZIP Code
72209 574  74.7%
72206 106  13.8%
72204 35  4.6%
72103 20  2.6%
72205 (Hillcrest, Midtown) 13  1.7%
72202 (Riverdale, East Village) 8  1%
72210 5  .65%
72211 (Chenal Parkway, WLR) 3  .39%
72113 2  .26%
72200 1  .13%
72223 (Chenal, WLR) 1  .13%
TOTAL 11 ZIP Codes
3.3% (25) from Named Neighborhoods
768  100%

 

High School Originating 8th Grade Schools No. of Students
McClellan Cloverdale Middle (LRSD) 292
Dunbar Middle (LRSD) 114
Mabelvale Middle (LRSD) 100
Henderson Middle (LRSD) 40
Forest Heights Middle, STEM (LRSD) 32
Mann Middle (LRSD) 31
Pulaski Heights Middle (LRSD) 25
Out-of-District 134
TOTAL 768

17% of McClellan's students entered from outside the district.

Request has been made, but is still outstanding, for specific Out-of-District originating 8th grade schools for LRSD High Schools.

High School  No. (%) from LRSD 8th No. (%) from Current Charter 8th No. (%) from Out of School/District  No. of Student ZIP Codes No. (%) from School ZIP Code No. (%) from Named Neighborhoods
 eStem  44 (9%)  346 (70.5%)  145 (29.5%)  33  2 (.4%)  133 (27.1%)
 LISA  14 (4.2%)  291 (87.9%)  40 (12.1%)  27  42 (13%)  152 (45.9%)
CHARTER TOTALS  58 of 822  (7.1%)  637 (77.5%)  185 (22.5%)  30 (Avg.)  44 (5.4%)  285 (34.7%)
             
 Central  1,729  (73.5%)  NA  622 (26.5%)  34  337 (14.3%)  1,153 (49%)
 Parkview  893
 (83.6%)
 NA  175 (16.4%)  26   231 (21.6%)  253 (23.7%)
 Hall  740
 (70.3%)
 NA  312 (29.7%)  20  120 (11.4%)  277 (16.8%) 
 Fair  664
 (82.1%) 
 NA  145 (17.9%)  15  121 (15%)  50 (6.2%)
 McClellan  634 (82.6%)  NA  134 (17.4%)  11  575 (74.7%)  25 (3.3%)
LRSD TOTALS  4,660 of  6,048  (77.1%)  NA  1,388 (22.9%)  21.2 (Avg.)  1,384 (22.9%)  1,758 (29.1%)

 

The facts are all public schools in Little Rock, be they open-enrollment charter or traditional, benefit from the mobility of students seeking their best public education options. With 22.5% and 22.9%, respectively, of eStem/LISA and LRSD high school students coming from outside their school/district, we should be thankful for Little Rock's robust education portfolio - traditional, open-enrollment charter, independent/private and inter-district school choice - instead of fighting others' expansions.

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"Kitchen Sink" Lawsuit Seeks Equity with Nonexistent Schools

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Thursday, January 21, 2016
Regarding just part of the 71-page federal lawsuit of Plaintiff Jim Ross, Joy Springer et al...

P. 3

"11. Furthermore, the high school which minor plaintiff Edward Doe presently attends and the middle school which he formerly attended are both unequal facilities to those attended by white students in the northwestern parts of the school district. The deficiencies and inequalities about which he complains that he has suffered and suffers as a black student in the LRSD are more specifically detailed in paragraph 59."

The first sentence is true, but for the opposite reason. There are no middle or high schools in the northwestern part of the school district, therefore the "deficiencies and inequalities" are in the northwest, not in the plaintiff's former and current schools.

P. 5

"18. Furthermore, the middle and high school that minor plaintiff Christian Doe is scheduled to attend are both unequal facilities to those attended by white students in the northwestern parts of the school district. The deficiencies and inequalities about which he complains that he has suffered and suffers as a black student in the LRSD are more specifically detailed in paragraph 59."

Ditto. There are no middle or high schools in the northwestern parts of the school district.

P. 6

"25. Furthermore, the high school which minor plaintiff Edward Doe presently attends and the middle school which he formerly attended are both unequal facilities to those attended by white students in the northwestern parts of the school district. The deficiencies and inequalities about which he complains that he has suffered and suffers as a black student in the LRSD are more specifically detailed in paragraph 58."

Ditto ditto. There are no middle or high schools in the northwestern parts of the school district.

Pp. 7-8

"31. Furthermore, the schools which James and Jade Doe presently attend are both unequal facilities to those attended by white students in the northwestern parts of the school district. The deficiencies and inequalities about which they complain that they have suffered and continue to suffer as black students in the LRSD are more specifically detailed in paragraphs 55 and 57."

Ditto ditto ditto. There are no middle or high schools in the northwestern parts of the school district.

P. 9

"37. Furthermore, the middle school which minor plaintiff Johnny Doe attended is an unequal facility to those attended by white students in the northwestern and western parts of the school district. The deficiencies and inequalities about which he complains that he has suffered and suffers as a black student in the LRSD are more specifically detailed in paragraphs 47, 50 and 57."

Ditto ditto ditto ditto. There is no middle school in the northwestern and/or western parts of the school district.

P. 10

"45. On May 15, 2015, the members of the State Board selected Defendant Baker Kurrus, a Caucasian person, to serve as acting Superintendent of the LRSD. Mr. Kurrus is sued in his official capacity."

Months earlier but after State takeover, while Dexter Suggs was still LRSD superintendent, plaintiffs' attorney John Walker, State Board of Education Chairman Sam Ledbetter, and Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess failed in an attempt to replace Suggs, an African-American person, with Guess, a Caucasian person.

P. 69

"WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully pray that this Court after a hearing or hearings and identifying violations of Plaintiffs' rights by Defendants, or another basis for relief, grant preliminary and permanent relief as follows:

"[a] a preliminary injunction preventing: [I] the opening of an LRSD middle school or high school in west Little Rock and [ii] the opening of a new charter school or the expansion of an existing charter school in west Little Rock, until the adoption and Court approval of a constitutionally adequate facility plan for the LRSD, or other terms specified by the Court;"

So, plaintiffs want middle and high school facilities equitable to those in the northwestern parts of the school district which do not exist. Following that logic, their action must seek closure of all LRSD middle and high schools.

And for good measure, they seek an injunction preventing opening any new middle or high schools - traditional or charter - in west Little Rock.

Why, you may ask. See the sixth and final relief sought.

P. 71

"[f] an award of plaintiffs’ counsel fees and plaintiffs' litigation costs."

Before the most recent Legislative Education Caucus, Attorney Walker claimed that his clients' lawsuit had nothing to do with reversing State takeover of the Little Rock School District and/oe reinstatement of the board.

P. 69

"[b] a preliminary injunction voiding the State takeover of the LRSD and the ouster of the democratically elected LRSD Board of School Directors on the ground that the Arkansas Department of Education and the State Board of Education were without authority under their own Rules to act as they did on May1, 2014, July 10, 2014, and January 28, 2015 [takeover of the LRSD and ouster of LRSD Board of school directors];"

"[d] an injunction or other form of relief necessary to provide that upon the return of the ousted School Board members to office, their terms are extended by the number of days of their unlawful ousters;"

When corrected by a lawyer from the Attorney General's office, all he offered was, "I stand corrected."

When your attorney forgets two of your six relief points, they are obviously not his top priority.

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Here's How Arkansas Students Compare to Nation and Arkansas Districts Compare to Each Other

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, December 18, 2015

Arkansas Learns was privileged to sponsor, attend and present at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas annual Door-to-Door meetings.

The gatherings, typically hosted by local/regional chambers of commerce in Arkansas's larger communities, focused on Arkansas's business competitiveness, particularly in regard to "touch states." Arkansas Learns' presentations centered on K-12 education as the beginning and bulk of the workforce talent pipeline. To that end, the latest statewide performance data was shared, along with how the respective communities' school districts fared under the state's accountability measures.

Arkansas

On the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Arkansas performed among the lowest quartile in the nation.

  • 4th Grade Reading - 32% Proficient (Tied 38th in Nation)
  • 4th Grade Math - 32% Proficient (Tied 44th in Nation)
  • 8th Grade Reading - 27% (Tied 44th in Nation)
  • 8th Grade Math - 25% (Tied 42nd in Nation)

While NAEP scores have long been dismissed by some in education circles as only a statewide sample, Arkansas's scores proved prescient when compared to statewide performance on last year's PARCC assessment:

  • 3rd Grade ELA (English Language Arts) - 29% Proficient
  • 3rd Grad Math - 31% Proficient
  • 4th Grade ELA - 34% Proficient
  • 4th Grade Math - 24% Proficient
  • 5th Grade ELA - 32% Proficient
  • 5th Grade Math - 24% Proficient
  • 6th Grade ELA - 33% Proficient
  • 6th Grade Math - 25% Proficient
  • 7th Grade ELA - 35% Proficient
  • 7th Grade Math - 22% Proficient
  • 8th Grade ELA - 32% Proficient
  • 8th Grade Math - 17% Proficient

While district-, school-, student-level PARCC scores are not yet available to the public, it's important to note that based on previous years' Benchmark and End-of-Course Exams, Arkansas graded itself as follows on its state-centric tests:

  • 3rd - 8th Grades Math - 72% Proficient
  • 3rd - 8th Grades Literacy - 78% Proficient
  • 9th - 11th Grades Algebra - 75% Proficient
  • 9th - 11th Grades Geometry - 74% Proficient
  • 9th - 11th Grades Literacy - 72% Proficient
  • 9th - 11th Grades Biology - 47% Proficient

When national assessments reflect that less than a third of Arkansas students are proficient in Math and Literacy, but the state's assessment shows 3/4 are proficient, Arkansas's proficiency inflation has failed a generation of students, families and communities, rendering increased graduation rates virtually meaningless.

School Districts

What follows, using the State's major accountability markers, are how the local school districts on the State Chamber's Door-to-Door tour compare to each other, as well as the first and last district in each category.

Benchmark Exam - Math
Valley View - 90% (1st)
Helena-West Helena - 40% (248th - Last)

School District % Proficient Statewide Rank
Bentonville 86% 8th (Tied)
Fayetteville 82% 26th (Tied)
Conway 81% 35th (Tied)
Rogers 81% 35th (Tied)
Batesville 77% 72nd (Tied)
Searcy 77% 72nd (Tied)
Springdale 77% 72nd (Tied)
Russellville 74% 107th (Tied)
Fort Smith 72% 123rd (Tied)
Hot Springs 70% 147th (Tied)
El Dorado 70% 147th (Tied)
Van Buren 70% 147th (Tied)
West Memphis 68% 171st (Tied)
Magnolia 66% 185th (Tied)
Jonesboro 65% 189th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special 63% 207th (Tied)
Texarkana 61% 219th (Tied)
Little Rock 59% 226th (Tied)
North Little Rock 59% 226th (Tied)
Pine Bluff 46% 241st (Tied)
Blytheville 42% 247th

 

Benchmark Exam - Literacy
Valley View - 93% (1st)
Forrest City - 49% (249th - Last)

School District % Proficient Statewide Rank
Bentonville 88% 14th (Tied)
Rogers 88% 14th (Tied)
Conway 85% 33rd (Tied)
Fayetteville 85% 33rd (Tied)
Searcy 83% 56th (Tied)
Rogers 81% 35th (Tied)
Batesville 81% 79th (Tied)
Russellville 79% 79th (Tied)
Springdale 79% 109th (Tied)
Fort Smith 78% 127th (Tied)
El Dorado 77% 139th (Tied)
West Memphis 76% 154th (Tied)
Van Buren 74% 177th (Tied)
Hot Springs 73% 187th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special 73% 187th (Tied)
Jonesboro 69% 209th (Tied)
Magnolia 68% 216th (Tied)
Texarkana 68% 216th (Tied)
North Little Rock 68% 216th (Tied)
Little Rock 65% 228th (Tied)
Pine Bluff 57% 241st (Tied)
Blytheville 51% 246th (Tied)

 

End-of-Course Exam - Algebra
Searcy County - 100% (1st)
Dierks - 31% (245th - Last)

School District % Proficient Statewide Rank
Bentonville 88% 29th (Tied)
Russellville 87% 38th (Tied)
Fayetteville 86% 42nd (Tied)
Conway 85% 49th (Tied)
Searcy 85% 49th (Tied)
Rogers 84% 57th (Tied)
Springdale 80% 84th (Tied)
Batesville 79% 94th (Tied)
Van Buren 77% 103rd (Tied)
West Memphis 73% 131st (Tied)
Fort Smith 72% 138th (Tied)
Jonesboro 69% 153rd (Tied)
Texarkana 67% 166th (Tied)
Magnolia 66% 173rd (Tied)
North Little Rock 66% 176th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special 64% 180th (Tied)
El Dorado 60% 195th (Tied)
Little Rock 59% 198th (Tied)
Hot Springs 47% 229th (Tied)
Blytheville 45% 233rd (Tied)
Pine Bluff 45% 233rd (Tied)

 

End-of-Course Exam - Geometry
Viola - 100% (1st)
Earle - 21% (245th - Last)

School District % Proficient Statewide Rank
Searcy 93% 11th
Bentonville 90% 22nd (Tied)
Fayetteville 90% 22nd (Tied)
Russellville 85% 44th (Tied)
Springdale 84% 50th (Tied)
Conway 83% 59th (Tied)
Batesville 83% 59th (Tied)
Rogers 79% 86th (Tied)
Van Buren 74% 126th (Tied)
Magnolia 72% 138th (Tied)
Fort Smith 70% 152nd (Tied)
El Dorado 68% 169th (Tied)
West Memphis 68% 169th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special 64% 184th (Tied)
Jonesboro 63% 186th (Tied)
Hot Springs 61% 196th (Tied)
North Little Rock 61% 196th (Tied)
Texarkana 58% 206th (Tied)
Little Rock 54% 211th (Tied)
Pine Bluff 44% 232nd (Tied)
Blytheville 35% 242nd (Tied)

 

End-of-Course Exam - Literacy
Searcy County - 94% (1st)
Earle - 23% (244th - Last)

School District % Proficient Statewide Rank
Bentonville 92% 6th (Tied)
Searcy 85% 21st (Tied)
Fayetteville 82% 38th (Tied)
Russellville 81% 45th (Tied)
Conway 80% 58th (Tied)
Rogers 79% 66th (Tied)
Springdale 79% 66th (Tied)
Magnolia 79% 66th (Tied)
Batesville 77% 80th (Tied)
El Dorado 76% 86th (Tied)
Fort Smith 72% 116th (Tied)
North Little Rock 69% 134th (Tied)
Van Buren 68% 144th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special 66% 154th (Tied)
Jonesboro 66% 154th (Tied)
Hot Springs 62% 180th (Tied)
Little Rock 62% 180th (Tied)
West Memphis 61% 191st (Tied)
Texarkana 56% 213th (Tied)
Pine Bluff 43% 237th (Tied)
Blytheville 42% 241st

 

End-of-Course Exam - Biology
Viola, Dardanelle - 85% (1st)
Lakeside (Chicot) - 6% (244th - Last)

School District % Proficient Statewide Rank
Bentonville 76% 7th (Tied)
Fayetteville 73% 13th (Tied)
Searcy 65% 30th (Tied)
Russellville 65% 30th (Tied)
Conway 59% 54th (Tied)
Springdale 53% 80th (Tied)
Fort Smith 52% 86th (Tied)
Batesville 51% 90th (Tied)
Magnolia 49% 99th (Tied)
Rogers 45% 124rd (Tied)
Van Buren 42% 141st (Tied)
Hot Springs 39% 155th (Tied)
El Dorado 35% 168th (Tied)
Jonesboro 32% 179th (Tied)
North Little Rock 32% 179th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special 31% 183rd (Tied)
Texarkana 29% 187th (Tied)
Little Rock 28% 194th (Tied)
West Memphis 28% 194th (Tied)
Blytheville 17% 220th (Tied)
Pine Bluff 12% 234th (Tied)

 

A-F School Grades
Des Arc, Magnet Cove, Mammoth Spring, Norfork, Salem - 4.0 (1st)
Lee County - 0.33 (Last)

School District As Bs Cs Ds Fs GPA
Conway 5 7 3 0 0 3.13
Fayetteville 4 7 2 1 0 3.00
Rogers 9 8 8 0 0 2.95
Bentonville 5 7 6 0 0 2.94
Springdale 9 8 8 2 0 2.89
Hot Springs 3 1 1 2 0 2.71
Searcy 1 3 1 1 0 2.67
Russellville 2 2 6 0 0 2.60
Batesville 0 3 3 0 0 2.50
Fort Smith 2 7 12 4 0 2.28
Texarkana 1 2 3 2 0 2.25
West Memphis 1 2 4 4 0 2.00
Magnolia 0 1 2 1 0 2.00
El Dorado 0 1 4 2 0 1.86
Pulaski County Special 2 4 14 12 3 1.71
Little Rock 4 6 10 14 8 1.62
North Little Rock 1 2 3 8 1 1.60
Van Buren 0 1 3 5 0 1.56
Jonesboro 0 0 5 4 0 1.56
Blytheville 0 0 0 3 1 0.75
Pine Bluff 0 0 1 4 4 0.67

 

Reward Schools
Valley View - 100% Top 10% Schools

School District Top 10% Top 11-20% Total
Bentonville 10 3 13
Fayetteville 6 2 8
Rogers 6 2 8
Little Rock 5 1 6
Conway 1 5 6
Fort Smith 4 2 6
Springdale 4 1 5
Pulaski County Special 1 2 3
West Memphis 1 1 2
Hot Springs 1 1 2
Russellville 0 2 2
Searcy 1 0 1
Batesville 0 1 1
Texarkana 0 1 1
North Little Rock 0 1 1

 

Focus Schools (Lowest 15% Performing, Gaining Schools in Arkansas Less Priority Schools)

School District Number
Little Rock 15
Springdale 6
Jonesboro 5
North Little Rock 5
Magnolia 4
Pulaski County Special 4
Pine Bluff 3
Blytheville 2
El Dorado 2
Hot Springs 2
Texarkana 2
West Memphis 1
Fayetteville 1
Fort Smith 1

 

Priority Schools (Lowest 5% Performing, Gaining Schools in Arkansas)

School District Number
Little Rock 8
Pine Bluff 4
Pulaski County Special 4
Blytheville 2
Fort Smith 2
Texarkana 1
West Memphis 1
Hot Springs 1

 

Academic Distress (Three-year Average of Less than 50% Students Proficient in Math/Literacy)

School District Number
Little Rock 6
Pine Bluff 3
Blytheville 2
Pulaski County Special 2

 

Statewide academic rankings communities would never accept athletically are being perpetually ignored, tolerated and/or explained away. 

Talent now drives economic development. Those communities which can grow, retain and attract it will succeed. Those that can't or won't...can't and won't.

Put bluntly, if the performance of the local school district(s) is not the top priority of the chambers of commerce and economic development organizations of Arkansas, they are not in the economic development business and neither is the community and/or region they purport to serve.

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Capital City Lighthouse Charter School Groundbreaking Ceremony: Gary Newton Comments

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, June 5, 2015

Good morning. It’s a great day for students and families, as well as the individual, familial and community economic development of North Little Rock.

I’m Gary Newton with Arkansas Learns – the nonprofit, nonpartisan private sector alliance of employers, parents and citizens dedicated to excellent education for all students, no matter their culture, economic status or ZIP Code. To that end, we were and remain a champion of Capital City Lighthouse Charter School.

We’re here today not only to break ground, but to break barriers to choice which have too often preferred the self interests of adults over the best interests of individual students.

Let’s celebrate what this community is getting.

On the recent A-F School Report Cards, only five public schools in Pulaski County north of the Arkansas River received As – North Little Rock School District’s Seventh Street Elementary, Lisa Academy North High School in Sherwood, Academics Plus Elementary and High Schools in Maumelle, and Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School Flightline Upper Academy.

Instead of being razed or becoming a boarded-up eyesore, this former Bellwood Elementary School and its surrounding community will be the beneficiary of an initial $2 Million capital investment, creating a school of choice which will attract students and families from North Little Rock, Pulaski County and beyond. Most importantly, true to its name, Capital City Lighthouse will become a beacon for learning.

When it comes to public education, one size or delivery system does not fit all. Further, public education should not be either/or, but all, collaborating to ensure the best educational opportunity for each student.

The North Little Rock School District, which aggressively markets across the county, is perhaps the greatest beneficiary of inter-district school choice in Arkansas. Unfortunately, the district’s schools are off limits to residents of neighboring Pulaski County Special School District, because that district’s unilateral leadership continues to exempt from choice.

But while that exemption is challenged, we should celebrate that there are no residential barriers to admission to Capital City Lighthouse. If you are an Arkansas resident K-6 student, and there is a seat available, it can be yours. Just apply online.

When Capital City Lighthouse Charter School opens on August 12th, it will initially be a K-12 model, serving grades K-6 and approximately 344 students. The school will add one grade, 50 students each year, for a maximum enrollment of 544 students in grades K-10 in the first five years.

The purpose of the school, and of all Lighthouse schools, is to prepare our students for college through a rigorous arts-infused program. Its vision is that all students will be taught by a highly effective teacher in a nurturing environment. Every student will achieve at high levels and develop the knowledge and values necessary for responsible citizenship and lifelong learning.

And who better to understand the value of a STEAM, arts-infused curriculum than the community which is home to the Thea Foundation’s Arkansas A+ Schools and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub Steam Lab.

Dr. Anderson, thank you and your team for bringing another excellent public education opportunity to this community and her people. Since talent is now the leading driver of economic development, the location of Capital City Lighthouse is a major “get,” which will pay dividends for students, families and this community for years to come.

Thank you for the privilege of celebrating with you today.

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Value of School Grades

Posted By Kathy Smith, Friday, May 22, 2015

Since school grades were released a few weeks ago, there has been much discussion about what these reflect, comparisons made, and both ire and celebration around the results.

Some results seemed counter-intuitive, such as the “D” grade assigned to Jones Elementary in Springdale, a school that has seen impressive gains over the last several years, and whose principal was recently named Arkansas Elementary Principal of the Year. How could a school that has seen such gains and has recognized leadership based on these get a low grade?

The answer lies in the calculations and purpose of annual school grades.

The grading system, which was designed by a task force of educators and statisticians from across the state, is based on three categories, depending on the school’s grade levels:

  1. Status, or proficiency rates
  2. Growth from the previous year (or for high schools, graduation rate since high schools currently administer End-of-Course exams rather than comprehensive tests each year)
  3. Narrowing the achievement gap between more advantaged and less advantaged students

All agreed the three categories used for the measures were important in assessing a school’s annual progress.

In regard to the purpose, school letter grades for a single year, as with student letter grades, should neither be a final indictment nor a cause for perpetual celebration. Rather, they should be a tool to focus on immediate adjustments. As with student grades, certainly trends will indicate whether those adjustments were effective or whether more focused interventions should occur, which brings us back to Jones Elementary.

While Jones has indeed shown a dramatic increase in Literacy proficiency over the past ten years (34 points), its percentage dropped this past year, from 72% to 65%. The same was true for Math, which dropped from 73% to 69%. Those declines, combined with performance in both Math and Literacy in 60th percentile resulted in the school's receiving a "D."

Meanwhile, Bayyari and Parson HIlls, Springdale elementary schools with demographics comparable to Jones were designated as "A" schools. Why? Even though Bayyari's proficiency in both Math and Literacy was 77% and 79%, respectively, it improved +5 in Math and +2 in Literacy. Parson Hills performance was lower, 71% in Math and 72% in Literacy, but its gains were higher, +4 in Math and +7 in Literacy.

Was it appropriate to celebrate Jones’ success as a school and its leader that has proven it can serve students well? Yes.

Was it appropriate to show that in a window comparing one year’s performance against the school’s goals, Jones didn’t meet growth targets and therefore received a grade that is reflective of the decline? Yes.

Perhaps when an analysis is complete regarding the weights of specific calculations in the grading formula, we will find that improvements need to be made. Given new standards and a new testing system, this will be necessary.

However, due to the posting of school grades, not only at Jones but in schools across the state, school officials are talking among themselves and, perhaps for the first time, with parents and community members about why they received the grades they did and what they plan to do next year to either improve or maintain. And these conversations are being conducted from a data-driven base that everyone understands. I’d submit this is a good thing for the students of Arkansas.

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Stigma or Motivation: When it Comes to School Report Cards, Consider Data

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2015

In the 89th General Assembly, SB752 was sponsored by Senator Jim Hendren "To Clarify for Parents the Public School Rating System on Annual School Report Cards." It passed the Senate and House with zero Nays and was signed into law by Governor Mike Beebe, becoming Act 696.

Why was it necessary?

Since 2011, Arkansas has received an ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act - of late, No Child Left Behind) waiver to designate its public schools in one of five categories. As a result, in 2013-14, public schools in Arkansas received the following designations:

 Designation  Number of Schools
 Exemplary  1 (.01%)
 Achieving  137 (13%)
 Needs Improvement  793 (75%)
 Needs Improvement - Focus  85 (8%)
 Needs Improvement - Priority   37 (4%)

 
One of the many problems of the system is that no school may fall into the lower two categories, Needs Improvement - Focus and Needs Improvement - Priority. They may only emerge. That leaves the vast majority (75%) of schools in Arkansas designated in the massive middle, allowing low performing and/or declining schools to be assuaged by their company.

On the flip side, if schools are in the Needs Improvement - Focus or Priority categories, that means they've been there since 2011.

Before that, schools received a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Few could recall whether it was best to receive a 1 or a 5.

Earlier this year, two years after Act 696 became law, the first A-F Report Cards were issued for every public school in Arkansas. As a result, the following grades, scores were received by 1,050 public schools:

Grade  Score   Number of Schools
 A  270 - 300  162 (15%)
 B  240 - 269  322 (31%)
 C  210 - 239  365 (35%)
 D  180 - 209  158 (15%)
 F  <180  43 (4%)

 

In Giving Excellence a 'D,' New formula for grading schools fails students, May 1, 2015 Special to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the author asks readers:

"What grade would you give Springdale's Jones Elementary?

"Consider the following data:

  • At Jones, 97 percent of the children live in poverty and 85 percent are English learners. Despite these obstacles, the school had the highest literacy growth in the entire district on the 2013-2014 state Benchmark test, soaring from 26 percent to 78 percent proficiency over the past nine years."

Consider the data, we did.

  • It is correct that Jones Elementary is 97% Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL), public education's euphemism for poverty (56th highest in Arkansas). 
  • Jones Elementary is 81% (not 85%) Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, the highest in Arkansas.
  • It is incorrect that "Jones Elementary had the highest literacy growth in the entire district on the 2013-14 Benchmark test, soaring from 26 percent to 78 percent proficiency over the past nine years."
    • Rather than "the highest literacy growth in the entire district on the 2013-14 Benchmark," Jones had the second highest decline in the district among 17 elementary schools (-7), from 72% in 2012-13 to 65% in 2013-14.
    • Nine years ago, Jones had 31% proficient in Literacy, not 26%.
    • Jones’s nine-year growth, while impressive, was +34 (from 31% to 65%), not +52 (from 26% to 78%).
    • Over the past nine years, the lowest Jones score was 29% (not 26%) in 2006-07, and the highest was 73% (not 78%) in 2011-12.

Letter grades and scores are for one year's performance and growth. So, because the percentage of Jones's students proficient in Math and Literacy was 69% and 65%, respectively, and the cumulative scores did not improve, but declined 3 and 7 points, respectively, over the previous year, Jones received a D.

Meanwhile, here are how Springdale's 17 elementary schools scored and compared:

 School  Grade  Score (of 300)  FRL%  LEP%  Math Proficient  Literacy Proficient  Math Growth Literacy Growth 
 Bayyari  A  279  92%  79%  79%  77%  +5  +2
 Bernice Young  A  300  18%  8%  94%  96%  +1  +3
 Elmdale  C  213  93%  66%  72%  75%  -7  -4
 George  A  280  85%  67%  81%  77%  +6  +3
 Harp  B  250  74%  58%  81%  82%  -3  0
 Hunt  A  293  41%  55%  90%  92%  -3  -4
 John Tyson  A  276  71%  52%  81%  91%  -10  0
 Jones  D  208  97%  81%  69%  65%  -3  -7
 Monitor  C  231  81%  51%  74%  75%  -7  -3
 Parson Hills  A  272  94%  71%  71%  72%  +4  +7
 Robert E. Lee  B  245  90%  63%  72%  74%  -6  -3
 Sonora  C  234  76%  43%  71%  68%  -9  -9
 Thurman G. Smith  C  210  74%  46%  76%  76%  -4  -1
 Turnbow  C  232  78%  53%  78%  81%  +4  +6
 Walker  A  295  47%  33%  89%  89%  -2  -4
 Westwood  B  251  82%  49%  73%  74%  -11  -5
 Willis Shaw  B  253  38%  9%  89%  88%  +4  +2

 

Note that two of the three schools with demographics closest to Jones - Bayyari and Parson Hills - were A schools. So, rather than criticizing a system which determined a single school's disappointing grade, why not celebrate that 11 of 17 Springdale elementary schools received As or Bs?

The pattern is clear. If a school's overall performance grade is low, the way to improve the grade is to show improvement. Unfortunately, the combination of lowest scores and fourth greatest decline in scores among elementary schools in the district resulted in Jones's receiving the lowest grade and score. 

A recent Talk Business poll showed that Arkansans graded their local schools comparably to the actual grades received:

 Grade  Poll   Actual Grades
 A  23%  15%
 B  33%  31%
 C  29%  35%
 D  8%  15%
 F  6%  4%

 

While A-F is imperfect, it is vastly superior to its predecessors. The good news is that, finally, the grades do what the law and its sponsor intended - "To Clarify for Parents the Public School Rating System on Annual School Report Cards." It is up to those being graded whether to view that clarity as stigma or motivation.

Sources

For a deeper explanation of public school report cards, visit: http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/public-school-accountability/school-performance/report-card.

For Arkansas public education data made user-friendly, visit: http://www.officeforeducationpolicy.org/arkansas-schools-data

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Arkansas's Open-enrollment Public Charter Schools Receive Mixed Grades

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 16, 2015

Two years after enactment, SB752 (Act 696), To Clarify for Parents the Public School Rating System on Annual School Report Cards, has been implemented.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Jim Hendren, provides A-F grades for each public school in Arkansas, and its genesis can be traced back to Act 35 of 2004.

While Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) schools are exempt, 1,050 Arkanas public schools received the following grades, including 33 open-enrollment public charter school schools:

  • A - 162 (15%)
  • B - 322 (31%)
  • C - 365 (35%)
  • D - 158 (15%)
  • F - 43 (4%) 

To help Arkansans understand the new grading system, the Arkansas Department of Education issued Arkansas School Grading System Talking Points, accompanied by a video. Unfortunately and inexplicably, a system intended to better inform parents is not parent/user-friendly. So...

To see the cumulative grades for a district (unassociated with specific schools):

  • Click here: https://adesrc.arkansas.gov
  • Click the desired district or charter school
  • Click the View District Report Card or Download District Report Card PDF icon at the far right
  • Scroll to page headed 'INDICATOR: School Performance'
  • Look down left column, to middle of page at heading: School Rating
  • Look eight columns to the right, see Cumulative Grades for district, charter's schools

To see the grades for specific schools:

  • Click here: https://adesrc.arkansas.gov
  • Click the desired district or charter school
  • Click the desired school in the drop down 
  • Click the View School Report Card or Download School Report Card PDF icon at the far right
  • Scroll to page headed 'INDICATOR: School Performance'
  • Look down left column, to middle of page at heading: School Rating
  • Look seven columns to the right, see the Letter Grade, with the Score underneath

A list of school grades and scores, unfortunately sorted by LEA numbers instead of alphabetically, may be found here.

Thirty-three open-enrollment public charter school campuses and virtual schools received the following grades:

  • A - 8 (24%)
  • B - 7 (21%)
  • C - 8 (24%)
  • D - 1 (3%)
  • F - 9 (27%)

Total grades and scores (on a 300 point scale), are as follows:

Open-enrollment Public Charter Schools

School  Grade  Score
 Academics Plus Elementary  A  300
 Academics Plus High  A  275
 Arkansas Arts Academy Elementary  C  235
 Arkansas Arts Academy High  A  272
 Arkansas Virtual Academy Elementary (no campus)  C  225
 Arkansas Virtual Academy Middle (no campus)  C  237
 Covenant Keepers  F  164
 eStem Elementary  A  288
 eStem Middle  B  240
 eStem High  A  287
 Little Rock Prep Elementary  F  175
 Little Rock Prep Academy  F  175
 Haas Hall Academy  A  300
 Imboden Area Charter  F  178
 Jacksonville Lighthouse College Prep Academy   B  257
 Jacksonville Lighthouse Flightline Upper Academy  A  281
 Jacksonville Lighthouse Elementary  B  244
 Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle  C  211
 KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy  D  209
 KIPP Blytheville College Prep  C  212
 KIPP Delta College Prep  B  241
 KIPP Delta Collegiate High  B  267
 Lisa Academy Elementary  C  221
 Lisa Academy High  B  256
 Lisa Academy North Elementary  C  234
 Lisa Academy North Middle  C  210
 Lisa Academy North High  B  256
 Pine Bluff Lighthouse Academy  F  160
 Pine Bluff Lighthouse Upper Academy  F  167
 Responsive Education Solutions Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy  A  300
 *Responsive Education Solutions Premier High School of Little Rock  F  135
 Responsive Education Solutions Quest Middle School of Pine Bluff  F  130
 *SIA Tech Little Rock  F   89

*Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) Schools are exempt from the grading system. Prior to enactment of Act 1272 in the 90th General Assembly, open-enrollment public charter schools serving a drop-out recovery population have not been allowed an ALE designation.

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Arkansas Issues First A-F Grades for Schools

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Two years after enactment, SB752 (Act 696), To Clarify for Parents the Public School Rating System on Annual School Report Cards, has been implemented.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Jim Hendren, provides A-F grades for each public school in Arkansas, and its genesis can be traced back to Act 35 of 2004.

While Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) schools are exempt, 1,050 Arkanas public schools received the following grades:

  • A - 162 (15%)
  • B - 322 (31%)
  • C - 365 (35%)
  • D - 158 (15%)
  • F - 43 (4%) 

To help Arkansans understand the new grading system, the Arkansas Department of Education issued Arkansas School Grading System Talking Points, accompanied by a videoUnfortunately and inexplicably, a system intended to better inform parents is not parent/user-friendly. So...

To see the cumulative grades for a district (unassociated with specific schools):

  • Click here: https://adesrc.arkansas.gov
  • Click the desired district or charter school
  • Click the View District Report Card or Download District Report Card PDF icon at the far right
  • Scroll to page headed 'INDICATOR: School Performance'
  • Look down left column, to middle of page at heading: School Rating
  • Look eight columns to the right, see Cumulative Grades for district, charter's schools

To see the grades for specific schools:

  • Click here: https://adesrc.arkansas.gov
  • Click the desired district or charter school
  • Click the desired school in the drop down 
  • Click the View School Report Card or Download School Report Card PDF icon at the far right
  • Scroll to page headed 'INDICATOR: School Performance'
  • Look down left column, to middle of page at heading: School Rating
  • Look seven columns to the right, see the Letter Grade, with the Score underneath

A list of school grades and scores, unfortunately sorted by LEA numbers instead of alphabetically, may be found here.

In the Little Rock School District, 42 schools received the following grades:

  • A - 4 (10%)
  • B - 6 (14%)
  • C - 10 (24%)
  • D - 14 (35%)
  • F - 8 (19%)

McClellan High, which has been declared in Academic Distress for three-year averages of less than 50% proficient in Math and Literacy, achieved a C, far outpacing fellow Academic Distress Schools Hall and Fair.

LRSD middle schools, however, were abysmal in both performance and gains, with four schools receiving Fs, and three receiving Ds.

Only four schools in the district - all elementary - received As: Forest Park, Terry, Roberts and Carver.

Terry, the second highest scoring school in the entire district, is 82% low income and 86% non-white. The fourth highest scoring school in the district, Carver, is 79% low income and 76% non-white. If learning is happening here, what are the excuses where it is not?

Total grades and scores (on a 300 point scale), from highest to lowest, are as follows:

High Schools

School Grade Score
Parkview B 258
Central B 255
McClellan C 210
Hall F 174
Fair F 173

 

Middle Schools

School Grade Score
Pulaski Heights D 205
Mann D 197
Dunbar D 181
Mabelvale F 178
Henderson F 158
Cloverdale F 157
*Forest Heights F 157

 
*Reconfigured to K-8 Forest Heights STEM Academy  

Elementary Schools

Schools Grade Score
Forest Park A 300
Terry A 290
Roberts A 289
Carver A 277
Jefferson B 266
Williams B 265
Gibbs B 253
Brady B 240
Mabelvale C 236
Otter Creek C 236
Dodd C 233
Fulbright C 231
Bale C 228
Wakefield C 228
Wilson C 217
Franklin C 213
Pulaski Heights C 211
Washington D 201
Stephens D 200
Baseline D 197
McDermott D 197
Meadowcliff D 197
Western Hills D 192
Booker D 190
Chicot D 188
Watson D 188
Rockefeller D 186
King D 183
Romine F 177
*Geyer Springs F 172

 
*Reconfigured to Geyer Springs Gifted & Talented Academy

To advance transparency in public education, Act 696 (A-F Grades for Schools) was a legislative priority of Arkansas Learns during the 89th General Assembly.

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LRSD Academic Distress Prompts Fiscal Scrutiny

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, February 27, 2015
Updated: Friday, February 27, 2015

While some adults continue to put their self interests above students' best interests in regard to the Little Rock School District, other adults are focused on correcting the district's course, both academically and fiscally.

Here are some fast facts concerning the district's finances, based on 2012-13 data. Each fact begins with how the district ranks compared to its Arkansas counterparts.

The closest district in enrollment to LRSD (23,594) is Springdale (20,141). One could reasonably deduce that a district with 15% less enrollment should be essentially 15% less in other revenue and expense categories as well. However, as you will see, LRSD's incoming and outgoing dollars rarely, if ever, track with enrollment.

For bright line areas for reductions (e.g. administration) and increases (e.g. student instruction), see any percentage that exceeds -15%.

District

  • 11th - Per Pupil Total Expenditure: $16,009; Springdale: $11,070 (-31%)
  • 146th - 63% Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL); Springdale: 67% (+6%)
  • 213th - Area Square Miles: 97; Springdale: 184 (+90%)

Enrollment

  • 1st - Total Enrollment (23,594); Springdale: 20,141 (-15%)
  • 1st - Average Daily Attendance (21,997); Springdale: 18,854 (-14%)
  • 177th - Average Daily Attendance Percent Change Over Five Years (-7%); Springdale: +20% (+400%)

Revenue

  • 1st - Total Revenue and Other Sources of Funds from All Sources ($350,457,071); Springdale: $222,342,653 (-37%)
  • 7th - Total Mills (46.4); Springdale: 40.5 (-13%)
  • 1st - Assessment ($3,251,822,422); Springdale: $1,463,189,099 (-55%)
  • 1st - Property Tax Receipts ($146,682,170 including URT - Uniform Rate of Taxation); Springdale: $58,081,443 (-60%)
  • 1st - Total Unrestricted Revenue from State and Local Sources ($220,644,122); Springdale: $154,554,765 (-30%)
  • 1st - Total Restricted Revenue from State Sources ($85,833,516); Springdale: $25,342,342 (-70%) 
  • 1st - Total Restricted Revenue from Federal Sources ($42,036,168); Springdale: $19,955,047 (-53%)
  • 1st - Private Donations ($1,956,892); Springdale: $477,262 (-76%)

Expenses

  • 1st - Total Expenditures ($352,150,173); Springdale $208,726,529 (-41%)
  • 1st - Total Debt ($199,550,083); Springdale: $167,975,456 (-16%)
  • 1st - Magnet Programs ($52,454,227); Springdale: $0
  • 4th - English Language Learner (ELL) ($696,315); Springdale: $2,633,980 (+278%)
  • 1st - National School Lunch Act (NSLA) State Funding for Free and Reduced Lunch Enrollment ($17,606,452); Springdale: $6,822,508 (-61%)
  • 1st - Transportation ($18,181,224); Springdale $5,952,718 (-67%)

Salaries

  • 67th - Base Teacher Pay (BA, 0 Years): $36,616; Springdale: $44,570 (+22%)
  • 9th - Base Teacher Pay (Top of Schedule): $65,490; Springdale: $73,070 (+12%)
  • 4th - Average Teacher Pay: $54,441; Springdale: $56,836 (+4%)
  • 1st - Total Fulltime Equivalent Employees (FTE) (2,088.70); Springdale 1,367.83 (-35%)
  • 1st - Total Salary ($119,805,427); Springdale $81,337,849 (-32%)
  • 4th - Average Salary ($57,359); Springdale $59,465 (+3%)

 Administration/Instruction

  • 1st - School Administration ($16,248,671); Springdale $9,613,384 (-41%)
  • 1st - General Administration ($4,788,713); Springdale: $2,116,753 (-56%)
  • 1st - Central Services ($10,757,691); Springdale: $2,599,146 (-76%)
  • 1st - Total Instruction ($175,393,601); Springdale: $105,607,660 (-40%)

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Support HB 1422 - Move School Elections to General

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quick, what is the date of the School Election?

If you don't know, that's because those who benefit most from obscure, low turnout elections like it that way. They prefer their low turnout "informed voters" over the people's high turnout "uninformed voters." And whom do they consider "uninformed voters?" Easy. Those who can't correctly answer the question above (i.e. most of us).

But, just because that's the way it's been doesn't mean that's how it has to be. Here are just some of the reasons we support HB 1422, sponsored Representative Nate Bell and Senator Jane English, which would, among other things, move school elections to the general election.

  • The local school boards of Arkansas’s 237 school districts govern the largest local government entities in Arkansas, spending over $5 billion annually in local (2/3 of real, personal property taxes), state (46% of General Revenue), and federal funds for PreK-12 education.
  • And yet, board member elections have the lowest voter participation of any elective offices in the state.
  • Arkansas school elections are held the third Tuesday of September, seven weeks before the General Election (first Tuesday after first Monday in November).
  • Each school district is required to reimburse their respective county(ies) for the costs of the School Election.
  • Cumulative school election results are not compiled by the Secretary of State’s Office, but here are samples from the State’s largest three counties’ most recent elections:

    • Pulaski
      • School Election Turnout – 2.8% (239,347 Registered Voters; 6,655 Voted)
      • General Election Turnout – 52.56% (243,861 Registered Voters; 128,162 Voted)
    • Benton
      • School Election Turnout – 3.49% (121,211 Registered Voters; 4,234 Voted)
      • General Election Turnout – 49.26% (127,008 Registered Voters; 62,568 Voted
    • Washington
      • School Election Turnout – .54% (112,113 Registered Voters; 608 Voted)
      • General Election Turnout – 47.65% (114,901 Registered Voters; 54,754 Voted)

  • According to the National School Boards Association, 53% of superintendents reported that their districts’ school board elections were always held on the same date as state and national elections.
  • 27 states hold all or most of their school board elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

And here's why the Arkanas School Boards Association (ASBA), an affiliate of the aforementioned National School Boards Association, asks its members (incumbent school board members) to oppose this bill:

  • The education of our children is important enough to justify a separate election.
  • It is critical that the individuals voting in a school election have a good understanding of the issues in their school.
  • It is very possible that if the school election is held with the general election in November the outcome may be based largely on uninformed voters.
  • We fear that the school election will become lost in the process and that issues may become much more partisan.

By this logic, the ASBA believes a majority of those who elect the President, Vice President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Land Commissioner, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, State Senator, State Representative, Circuit Judge, District Attorney, County Judge, Sheriff, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor, Quorum Court, Constable, Mayor and City Council may be uninformed.

We trust that the Representatives, Senators and Governor who were elected by those whom the Arkansas School Boards Association considers to be "uninformed voters" will finally entrust our public schools to those who put them into office, instead of those precious few "informed voters" preferred by incumbent school board members and their advocates.

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