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Progress Yes, But What About Urgency of Bale, Hall, Fair, McClellan?

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, October 4, 2017

For two years now, Arkansas public school students - grades three through ten - have taken the ACT Aspire as their summative exam.

Here are the percentages of students at each school in the Little Rock School District meeting the readiness benchmark on the ACT Aspire exam in each of the past two years, as well as the schools' respective growth in each area.

Elementary
(3 - 5 Grades)
2015-16
English Language
Arts (ELA)
2016-17
English Language
Arts (ELA)
 
Growth  2015-16
(Science, Math)
STEM
2016-17
(Science, Math)
STEM
 
Growth
Bale  19%  14%  -5  21%  14%  -7
Baseline  16%  20%  +4  17%  28%  +11
Booker  34%  40%  +6  26%  33%  +7
Brady  19%  22%  +3  11%  18%  +7
Carver  32%  36%  +4  34%  41%  +7
Chicot  NA  22%  NA  NA  19%  NA
Dodd  20%  26%  +6  17%  25%  +8
Forest Park  82%  81%  -1  78%  74%  -4
Franklin  16%  16%  0  14%  13%  -1
Fulbright  44%  51%  +7  47%  43%  -4
Gibbs  65%  66%  +1  52%  58%  +6
Jefferson  53%  66%  +13  58%  70%  +12
King  27%  28%  +1  24%  26%  +2
Mabelvale  20%  24%  +4  15%  15%  0
McDermott  27%  32%  +5  24%  28%  +4
Meadowcliff  19%  20%  +1  19%  20%  +1
Otter Creek  32%  38%  +6  28%  31%  +3
Pulaski Heights  54%  61%  +7  51%  61%  +10
Roberts  77%  80%  -3  77%  75%  -2
Rockefeller  25%  27%  +2  17%  20%  +3
Romine  18%  19%  +1  16%  18%  +2
Stephens  18%  21%  +3  18%  16%  -2
Terry  41%  42%  -1  41%  39%  -2
Wakefield  22%  30%  +8  15%  25%  +10
Washington  18%  22%  +4  15%  18%  +3
Watson  9%  18%  +9  9%  13%  +4
Western Hills  31%  31%  0  26%  28%  +2
Williams  59%  66%  +7  62%  60%  -2
Wilson  17%  14%  -3  16%  19%  +3
K-8
(3 - 8 Grades)
     
Forest Heights  70%  71%  -1  61%  64%  +3
Middle
(6 - 8 Grades)
     
Cloverdale  23%  29%  +6  9%  15%  +6
Dunbar  35%  44%  +9  19%  26%  +7
Henderson  24%  32%  +8  12%  12%  0
Mabelvale  25%  31%  +6  15%  17%  +2
Mann  49%  53%  +4  33%  40%  +7
Pinnacle View (6th)  NA  69%  NA  NA  60%  NA
Pulaski Heights  55%  55%  0  45%  45%  0
High School
(9 - 10 Grades)
     
Central  53%  55%  +2  32%  36%  +4
Fair  19%  20%  +1  3%  4%  +1
Hall  12%  13%  +1  2%  4%  +2
McClellan  22%  18%  -4  4%  7%  +3
Parkview  46%  58%  +12  25%  29%  +4
             
LRSD Averages  37%  41%  +4  27%  31%  +4
             
Central AR Averages  47%  51%  +4  37%  41%  +4
             
Southeast AR Averages
 36%  40%  +4  27%  29%  +2
             
Arkansas Averages  48%  53%  +5  38%  42%  +4

 

The good news is that the Little Rock School District cumulatively improved academically at the state average in ELA and just one point below in STEM. Further, of 43 schools in the district last year:

  • 30 improved in ELA (English Language Arts) - 21 of 32 elementary schools, 0 of 1 K-8 school, 5 of 6 middle schools, 4 of 5 high schools
  • 30 improved in STEM (Math, Science) - 20 of 32 elementary schools, 1 of 1 K-8 school, 4 of 6 middle schools, 5 of 5 high schools
  • Among elementary schools, Jefferson improved the most: +13 (ELA) +12 (STEM) = +25 (Total)
  • Among middle schools, Dunbar improved the most: +9 (ELA) +7 (STEM) = +16 (Total)
  • Among high schools, Parkview improved the most: +12 (ELA) +4 (STEM) = +16 (Total)

The bad news:

  • Among elementary schools, Bale (by far) declined the most: -5 (ELA) -7 (STEM) = -12 (Total)
  • Despite improvement at all high schools, out of 1,008 public schools in Arkansas:
    • Fair High School ranked in 969th in ELA and 1,000th in STEM.
    • McClellan High School ranked in 987th ELA and 995th in STEM.
    • Hall High School ranked 998th in ELA and 1,002nd in STEM.
    • Hall High School was also one of only 19 high schools in Arkansas with zero students meeting readiness in all four subject areas of the ACT

Wrap your head around that. Little Rock Hall High School - located in midtown, the zoned high school for much of West Little Rock, and the alma mater of many civic and business leaders of Little Rock - is among the lowest 1% academically performing schools in all of Arkansas. And that's AFTER it improved in both ELA (+1) and STEM (+2) last year.

Thankfully, Hall is now a School of Innovation, led by Dr. Mark Roberts, a proven, dynamic new principal. According to LRSD.org, "Roberts’ educational background includes more than 20 years of principal experience in urban school districts. He most recently served as principal of Aurora Central High School, Aurora, Colorado – a school with a diverse student population of more than 2,200."

Still, the fact that the district and community let the school degenerate into such a sad state is criminal. It's not as if those in authority were unaware. West Little Rock parents, whose residences were zoned for pre-STEM Academy Forest Heights and Hall, were screaming about the schools' academic performance as far back as 2011. No less than the Arkansas Times reported on the decline of Hall in 2006, when John Bacon (now CEO of eStem Public Charter Schools) was the new principal and today's seniors were in Kindergarten.

So, the next time you are tempted to believe that all that ails the district would be cured by "local control," consider Hall High School.

Meanwhile, while the freshmen at Fair and McClellan will graduate from a shiny, new, state-of-the-art Little Rock Southwest High School in 2020, what of their and their upper classmates' academics over the next 2.75 years?

Nine LRSD elementary schools experienced combined double-digit improvement last year. The outlier was Bale, which had a combined double-digit drop, losing 5 points in ELA and 7 in STEM.

Still, with progress being made on multiple fronts, questions abound.

When the district is just below the state's average in improvement, how can it ever catch up to its inauspicious performance averages?

Is it too much to expect each LRSD school to meet/exceed the state's averages?

Is it too much to expect each LRSD school to meet/exceed Central Arkansas's averages, which are 2 (ELA) and 1 (STEM) points lower than the state's.

Is it too much to expect each LRSD school to meet/exceed the district's own averages, which are 12 (ELA) and 11 (STEM) points below the state's?

Is it too much to expect each LRSD school to meet/exceed Southeast Arkansas's averages, which are 13 points below the state's averages in both ELA and STEM?

The window is closing on the State's control of the Little Rock School District. Generations of students were failed before the State's intervention, and too many have been/are being failed since.

May we all find the urgency and will to immediately implement intensive intervention to save - not our schools - but our students.

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