Since our founding in 2003, the mission of the Office for Education Policy has examined pressing issues through the lens of academic research and disseminating our findings to educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders around Arkansas. Every once in a while, however, we think it is okay to stray from issue analysis and simply share some good news! In this Arkansas Education Report (AER), we aim to highlight excellent performance and offer our congratulations. To that end, we are happy to highlight many excellent schools around the state in our now-annual AER, entitled the Outstanding Educational Performance Awards, or the OEP awards. In the 2015-16 academic year, Arkansas students have yet again undergone a change in their assessment of student performance to replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers (PARCC). The ACT Aspire examinations were administered to students in grades 3 through 10 in Math, Reading, Writing, English and Science. For the purposes of this report, the scores obtained in Reading, Writing and English were combined to create a combined ELA score. This edition of the OEP Awards will highlight high-performing schools in Arkansas based on their performance in the Math, ELA and Science exams at the Elementary, Middle, Junior and High school level. In 2012, we introduced an academic performance indicator, the “GPA” rating system, to rank the highest-performing schools. Unlike the commonly reported percentage of students scoring at or above the proficient level on each assessment which suffers from being an “all-or-nothing” measure in which a student is either proficient or not, the “GPA” includes information provided by student scores that are placed into the four different performance categories: In Need of Support, Close to Meeting Expectations, Ready, and Exceeded Expectations. Our GPA indicator gives the most credit to students who have exceeded expectations and the least credit to those that are in need of support. In this GPA measure, parallel to the familiar grade point average for individual students, a 4.0 is a perfect score. The GPA measure, we believe, is a better representation of student achievement on statewide standardized exams.
In this report, we are presenting a list of the top 20 schools in each area. In some cases, these “top 20 lists” will contain more than 20 schools as some schools’ GPA scores will be identical. In the following weeks, we will focus on high-performing elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in the various regions across the state. We will conclude this edition of the report by highlighting schools that are beating the odds (that is, schools that have high levels of student achievement while serving a high percentage of low-income students)
Overview provided by The Office of Education Policy, The University of Arkansas