LITTLE ROCK, AR —The Arkansas Department of Education has released the 2012 school ESEA accountability reports for the first time under standards of the state’s new accountability system.
The new system measures student performance on state assessments looking at the data in three different ways—student achievement, student growth and graduation rate at high schools. The system maintains a focus on helping students achieve proficiency in both literacy and math, but also gives credit for improving performance along the way.
“We have to forget what the old system’s labels meant,” Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell said in a release. “Needs Improvement should not be associated with school level improvement status of old. It simply means the school missed one or more targets. Under the new system, schools do not progress in year one, two, three, or go deeper into school improvement.”
Arnold Drive Elementary School is one of the schools classified as "Exemplary" in the new system.
"We basically ask three questions: What do we want students to be able to know and do, how will we know if they know it and are able to do it, and what do we do if they don't," said Principal Kristen Beach.
As of right now, forty-six schools are performing at the very bottom and could face academic distress in two years if nothing changes.
Even some of the best-performing schools are labeled "Needs Improvement" because of the wide achievement gap between top achievers and students learning English as a second language, students with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged.
Eight Conway schools are on that list.
"We've got to do a great job to tell our parents even though it needs improvement doesn't mean we've got to bail the ship. We're still performing very well," Dr. Greg Murray said.
for the schools and their labels.