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Who's Really "Destroying" the Little Rock School District?

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Sunday, September 17, 2017

The next time anyone says or writes that charters are responsible for "destroying" the Little Rock School District, counter with this (not that the truth has ever mattered).

It had long been obvious to those who form opinions and make decisions based on data where the Little Rock School District was losing and gaining students:

In the last years of local control:

  • Biggest Loss: Between 5th and 6th Grades (-327, -16.5%)
  • Biggest Gain: Between 8th and 9th Grades (+340, +21.6%)
  • Second Biggest Loss: Between 10th and 11th Grades (-244, -13.5%)
  • Third Biggest Loss: Between 11th and 12th Grades (-180, -11.5%)
  • Fourth Biggest Loss: Between 9th and 10th Grades (-216, -11.4%)

However, those numbers and percentages have shifted under state control. Last year:

  • Exodus between 5th and 6th grades dropped to -185 (-10.2%)
  • Biggest Gain: Between 8th and 9th Grades (+286, +19%)
  • Biggest Loss: Between 9th and 10th Grades (-393, 21%)
  • Second Biggest Loss: Between 5th and 6th Grades (-185, -10.2%)
  • Third Biggest Loss: Between 10th and 11th Grades (-159, -10.5%)
  • Fourth Biggest Loss: Between 11th and 12th Grades (-123, -8.9%)

In 2005-06, there was only a 28-student exodus between fifth and sixth grades. In 2015-16, the loss had swelled to -368, -19.2% of the class' enrollment. Since the opening of Pinnacle View Middle School's sixth (2016-17) and seventh grades (2017-18), however, the loss has dropped to -185, -10.2% enrollment. With the addition of eighth grade in 2017-18, that number and percentage will drop even further.

Students and families continue to return to the district for high school in greater numbers than left for middle school. In 2016-17, there was a 355-student, 22.6% increase in the class. Unfortunately, those gains were more than lost in 2017-18 - between 9th and 10th - when 393 (21.5%) of the class left the district. The district continues to bleed students for the remainder of high school.

Grades 2004-05 2013-14 Grades 2014-15 +/- Grades 2015-16 +/- Grades 2016-17 +/- Grades  2017-18   +/-
                        K 1,882  
K 1,956 1 1,979 +23 (+1.2%)
K 2,062 1 1,991 -71 (-3.4%) 2 1,927 -64 (-3.2%)
K 2,055 1 2,052 -3 (-.15%) 2 1,934 -118 (-5.8%) 3 1,878 -56 (-2.9%)
K 2,018 2,220 1 2,202 -18 (-.8%) 2 2,172 -30 (-1.4%) 3 2,067 -105 (-4.8%) 4 2,040 -27 (-1.3%)
1 2,059 2,160 2 2,107 -53 (-2.4%) 3 2,043 -64 (-3%) 4 1,957 -86 (-4.2%) 5 1,914 -43 (-2.2%)
2 1,997 1,996 3 1,947 -49 (-2.5%) 4 1,910 -37 (-1.9%) 5 1,809 -101 (-5.3%) 6 1,624 -185 (-10.2%)
3 1,901 1,900 4 1,867 -33 (-1.7%) 5 1,856 -11 (-.59%) 6 1,584 -272 (-14.7%) 7 1,525 -59 (-3.7%)
4 1,890 1,974 5 1,921 -53 (-2.7%) 6 1,553 -368 (-19.2%) 7 1,533 -20 (-1.3%) 8 1,467 -66 (-4.3%)
5 1,949 1,836 6 1,509 -327 (-16.5%) 7 1,490 -19 (-1.3%) 8 1,468 -22 (-1.5%) 9 1,754 +286 (+19%)

TOTAL Elem.

11,814 12,086 12,099 12,095 11,714      
6 1,835 1,636 7 1,604 -32 (-2%) 8 1,568 -36 (-2.2%) 9 1,903 +355 (+22.6%) 10 1,510 -393 (-21%)
7 1,822 1,672 8 1,614 -58 (-3.5%) 9 1,763 +149 (+9.2%) 10 1,582 -181 (-10.3%) 11 1,423  -159 (-10%)
8 1,881 1,576 9 1,916 +340 (+21.6%) 10 1,694 -222 (-11.6%) 11 1,538 -156 (-9.2%) 12 1,415 -123 (-8.9%)
TOTAL MS 5,538 4,884 4,727 4,611 4,585      
9 2,324 1,899 10 1,683 -216 (-11.4%) 11 1,531 -152 (-9%) 12 1,437 -94 (-6.1%)      
10 1,827 1,802 11 1,558 -244 (-13.5%) 12 1,470 -88 (-5.6%)      
11 1,561 1,560 12 1,380 -180 (-11.5%)      
12 1,360 1,445      
TOTAL HS 7,072 6,706 6,537 6,458 6,460      
TOTAL 24,484 23,676 23,363 23,164 22,759      


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

And where are students going? For those quick to blame charters, the district lost more students to "other schools" (i.e. other districts, private) in 2003-04 - when no charters existed in the footprint - than any subsequent year.

Quick observations:

  • Lowest Loss of Students to Other Schools - 347 (2015-16; First Year of State Control)
  • Loss of Students to Other Schools Was Four Times Higher in 2003-04 than 2015-16
  • Loss of Students for Other Reasons (See * Below) in 2015-16 Exceeded 13-Year Average of 410
Other Schools Private Home Out-of-State Early Graduates GED Other Total
2003-04 1,452 NA NA NA 58 77 554 2,141
2004-05 1,237 NA NA NA 82 36 561 1,916
2005-06 1,092 NA NA NA NA 141 385 1,618
2006-07 1,237 NA NA NA NA 154 118 1,509
2007-08 1,059 NA NA NA NA 140 494 1,693
2008-09 983 11 50 NA 87 29 226 1,386
2009-10 371 26 19 82 109 23 222 852
2010-11 337 20 27 151 95 26 618 1,274
2011-12 371 7 26 154 128 17 558 1,261
2012-13 476 23 33 171 14 14 338 1,069
2013-14 516 31 26 185 10 12 458 1,238
2014-15 508 24 26 193 16 8 342 1,117
2015-16 329 5 13 127 0 3 464 941
2016-17 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
TOTAL 9,968 147 220 1,063 599 680 5,338 18,015


*Other (Includes Incarcerated, Deceased, Failing Grade, Suspended/Expelled, Lack of Interest, Conflict with School, Economic Hardships, Pregnancy/Marriage, Peer Conflict, Alcohol/Drugs, Health Problems, Other)

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

If the district and its alleged champions are truly interested in stemming enrollment losses, it/they will correct its chronic middle school deficiencies and stop the "Other" losses in high school.

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