The Little Rock School District is the largest in the state with 25,000 students. 70 percent come from low income families. This year the number of schools classified as needing improvement increased from 28 to 35, but the district says it's not the students. The system is flawed.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, if 100 percent of students don't meet state standards, the whole school fails. Dennis Glasgow is the Associate Superintendent for Accountability for the Little Rock School District. He says Central High School and Parkview are both on school improvement, but not because the students at those schools aren't doing well. "They're doing extraordinarily well. The problem is you have smaller pockets of students who struggle for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have a learning disability. Maybe they have trouble with the English language."
It's not uncommon for schools to improve from one year to the next, but still drop in rankings because they didn't improve enough. Schools must also meet state standards two years in a row to be removed from the state's improvement list.
The discrepancy concerns parents like Betty Flowers. "I think parents play a big part in their student’s education. If they would get more involved with their teachers and communicate with their children, the schools would be a better place for them to go."
Lee Atkinson says his son's test scores are improving. "Having the resources to get the test scores up is going to be what it takes, as well as parent involvement, because kids need a little push."
8 of the Little Rock's 35 labeled schools met standards last year, so if they do it again this year, they'll be taken off the list. Dennis Glasgow says he wouldn't be surprised if next year all 45 schools in the district are on the improvement list.
In 2001, only 30 percent of students in the district received proficient test scores. In 2011, that number is more than 70 percent.
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