LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Just like how students get grades, schools get grades too.
The report cards have been released to day by the department of education.
The school rating system assigns a letter grade to each school and gives an overview under the “Every Student Succeeds Act.”
“The school letter grades are part of our state accountability system they are required on state legislation. They are based on the essay school index calculation which is part of our federal accountability plan,” says the Department of Education.
Five school districts are under state control for either academic or fiscal distress. The five school districts include Dollarway, Pine Bluff, Lee County, Earle, and Little Rock.
The Little Rock School District, under academic distress and the state is now figuring out a way to get it back under local control.
Some argue that like the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus argue that the way the data is gathered isn’t the correct way to indicate a school’s success.
“What happens to a school when it gets an F label on it..” says State Senator Joyce Elliott.
“This label gets tattooed onto the brains of the children who go to those schools.”
In the last few years, the State Board of Education has created a new way to grade schools.
The data gathered is from growth scores, graduation rates, school quality, and student success indicators among other things.
According to this data, the Little Rock School District has 8 failing schools.
The superintendent says that the growth scores show a much more positive story.
An online portal is giving information for parents on how to grade school success. Looking at the Little Rock School District, many of the schools are left with grades ranging from A’s to F’s.
“In the D and F schools that’s where we really want parents to jump in and ask how can we be apart and what can we do to be more engaged both at home and at school,” says Micheal Poore the Little Rock Superintendent.
Poore says that the results are surprising, but it’s not all about the letter grade. He looks at the growth score and how well the student did in class from the first day of school until the last.
“In our growth stores we had 30 out of our 40 schools experience increases in their growth scores.”
In 2016 the state created this new way of grading scores. Poore says that though some schools may be considered “failing” there is much more than that.
“If a parent does see a D of F, I hope they think we need to invest more in our child in the school.”
Former Little Rock Superintendent and school board member Baker Kurrus says that this is not an appropriate way to grade schools.
“I see that they measure school failure based on the wrong things. There are a lot of kids in those schools who work hard and do well,” says Kurrus.
He says that there should be many more factors at play in the data.
“It’s homelessness, it’s abject poverty, it’s the inability to speak English. Those are the determining factors. Those are the variables that make the biggest difference. Labeling a school is the wrong approach.”
Poore says that this information is the informative to the future of the district.
“The overall thing is good because it show multiple indicators that we should care about we should care about growth, we should care about performance in areas of reading and math.”