LITTLE ROCK. Ark. – The state report card is in for schools across Arkansas, and there’s a lot more to it than just a letter grade.
Parents can see how their child’s school ranks in testing results, graduation rates, absenteeism, even discipline. They can also see how much money goes into their school compared to others in the district.
Out of more than a thousand public schools in the state, 44 received an “F” in their 2018 performance rating. Eight of them were in the Little Rock School District (LRSD).
“In particular, it’s important in Little Rock with the takeover that we impact those schools that are ‘F’ schools,” said Superintendent Michael Poore. “That’s where the greatest intensity and support have come from the state department as well to try to have their report cards shine when it comes to next fall.”
The state took over LRSD in January 2015. One of the schools cited as the main culprit was Hall High School. In 2017 and 2018, it maintained its “F” rating, but Poore encourages people to look past the letter grade.
“They’re still performing low, but they had growth,” he said.
Poore points to improvements on the school’s state report card in test scores, discipline and attendance.
“If we have kids in school working with our educators, good things are going to happen,” he said.
Hall’s graduation rate also increased from 52 percent in 2015 to 65 percent in 2018. The district overall jumped from nearly 74 percent to 82 percent.
“If a kid has a diploma, that’s a big difference than having a GED or not graduating at all,” Poore said. “We’re not done. We’re not satisfied, but we love the upward trend.”
In a YouTube video posted Monday, Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key shared the message, “The purpose of this report card is not to be a negative, but it is to be a positive creator of conversations.”
One potential conversation with the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) could be LRSD’s return to local control when the five-year deadline is up in January 2020.
“If we have those things, a year’s worth of growth, it automatically starts to change things,” Poore said. “I have a positive feeling about things given the data we’ve seen on these assessments throughout the year.”
ADE will release school rankings this fall to determine what happens to LRSD in January.