State Board of Education notebook

LR test scores rise in 1st, 2nd grades

First- and second-graders in the Little Rock School District on average earned higher percentile scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills this past spring than did their counterparts in 2015, Superintendent Baker Kurrus said Thursday.

Kurrus reported those standardized test scores to Arkansas Board of Education members in what was his final monthly report to them on the status of the state-controlled school district. Kurrus, whose state contract was not renewed, will be replaced July 1 by Michael Poore.

First-graders had an average composite math, language and reading score at the 44th percentile, up 6 percentile points from the 38th percentile in 2015. The composite score also increased by 6 points in math, moving from the 43rd to the 49th percentile. The national average is the 50th percentile.

Kurrus called the improvements “uncommonly good” and “simply the result of hard work.”

Stacy Smith, Arkansas Department of Education’s assistant commissioner for learning services, said the statewide results for the tests will be available later this month. The results for the ACT Aspire exams given to students in grades three through 10 will be released later in the summer.

Probation status set on 11 entities

The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday classified 11 Arkansas schools or school systems as being on probation for the 2015-16 school year for violating state education standards.

There are an additional 259 schools that are categorized as “accredited-cited” because they have teachers teaching out of field and taking courses to attain additional licensure in the subjects they are teaching.

Far more Arkansas schools and systems — 1,051 in all — met all accreditation standards in 2015-16.

The accreditation standards are the requirements for operating a public school or school system, including the courses the schools must teach, staffing requirements and maximum limits on class sizes.

The first-year probation rating for the 11 schools and districts puts them in jeopardy of losing state accreditation if they violate the same standard or a different standard in the coming year. The Education Board is legally required to take one of nearly a dozen actions against the district or school that repeatedly violates the standards. The penalties range from a statement of assurance that all violations are corrected to a state takeover.

College-bound students who graduate from high schools that are now on probation won’t be directly affected, because colleges generally consider such schools to be accredited for the purpose of admitting the students.

Probation status is carried into the coming school year even if a district corrects a problem right away. That is meant to create a sense of urgency among the schools to ensure that standards are met.

The schools on first-year probation include: Ozark Montessori Academy, an open-enrollment charter school in Springdale; Mansfield High School; Arkansas School for the Deaf system; Arkansas School for the Deaf High School; Rector High School; Wilmot Elementary School in the Hamburg School District; Yerger Junior High in the Hope School District; and Caddo Hills High School in Norman.

Also on probation are the Alexander, Dermott and Lewisville Youth Services centers, each of which is a part of the state Division of Youth Services.

2 district-transfer appeals rejected

The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday denied appeals from two families that sought transfers for their children from the new Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District to the Cabot School District.

The Cabot district had denied the request from the Christopher Bopp and the Brad and Sherie Ruple families for the transfer of a total of six children.

The district denied the transfer requests because the Jacksonville/North Pulaski district has exempted itself from participating in Arkansas School Choice Act transfers. The School Choice Act permits a district to decline to allow interdistrict student transfers if the district is subject to a federal school desegregation order. The new Jacksonville/North Pulaski district is a party in a long-running Pulaski County school desegregation case.

Board members Vicki Saviers, Susan Chambers, Joe Black, Mireya Reith, Jay Barth and Charisse Dean voted to uphold the transfer denials. Board members Diane Zook and Brett Williamson voted to allow the transfers.

Teacher honored for 60-year career

The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday honored Jimmie Roark for her 60 years of work as an Arkansas teacher.

Roark, a science teacher, worked for 48 years in the Hampton School District but earlier worked in districts such as Blytheville, Camden-Fairview, Strong, and the Harmony Grove district in Ouachita County.

Hampton Superintendent Jimmy Cunningham said that Roark also drove a school bus for 40 years.

Metro on 06/10/2016


State Board of Education notebook

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