Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

TOP STORY >> Three schools perfectly proficient

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

All ó thatís 100 percentóof the junior high and middle school students in Lonoke and Searcy who took the end-of-course algebra test this past spring are proficient or advanced. Most other area junior high students taking the test also did well.
Also, 100 percent of the students at Cabot Junior High School North who took the end-of-course geometry exam scored proficient or advanced.

But when it came to the literacy exam given to all high school juniors, the resulted were markedly different.

Seventy percent of Lonoke juniors are not reading and writing on grade level, according to test results. The same holds true for Hazen juniors and those at Jacksonville High School where about 70 percent are not on grade level.

The scores were recently released by the state Education Department, along with the results of the Benchmark exams and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.The Benchmark results, along with the end-of-course exams and the literacy test are used to determine if a school goes on or stays on the stateís school-improvement list.

More than 33,200 students in grades seven through 12 statewide took the test near the end of the 2005-2006 school year. The end-of-course exams are the secondary equivalent of the Benchmark exams given in grades three through eight and are given in algebra and geometry.

The literacy exam was administered to 29,649 juniors across the state in the spring, and overall only 44 percent scored proficient or advanced, the same as in 2005, but up from 2001 when only 22 of the juniors were on grade level.

Statewide, 65 percent of all students taking the end-of-course algebra exam scored proficient or advanced. Searcy beat that average by 36 points with 91 percent of its students making the grade. Cabot beat the state average by 31 points, as 86 percent of its algebra students were proficient or advanced. Lonoke had 100 percent make the mark in its middle school, but fell to 60 percent at the high school for a district average of 66 percent, one point above the state.

Pulaski County Special School District was nearly 30 below the state average despite excellent scores from Northwood and Sylvan Hills middle schools.

At Northwood, 95 percent of the students taking the test were proficient or advanced and at Sylvan Hills, 93 percent made the cut.

But at the high schools, where more students take algebra, the scores fell drastically. Just 37 percent were proficient or advanced at Sylvan Hills High School, 27 percent at North Pulaski and only 22 percent at Jacksonville High School.

The geometry scores followed suit, with middle school students doing better than their counterparts at the high school level, and PCSSD faring worse than other area districts.

Across the state, 28,485 students took the geometry test, and 60 percent scored proficient or advanced, up five points from 2005 and nearly triple from the 19 percent who made the mark in 2001.

Cabot, behind the strong showing of Cabot Junior High North at 100 percent on target and Cabot Junior High South at 98 percent proficient or advanced, had a district average of 72 percent proficient or advanced, 12 points above the state average. Carlisle, at 70 percent proficient or advanced, was close behind. England, at 69 percent proficient or advanced, and Hazen at 62 percent, both beat the state average.

Searcy was just one point off the state average, with 59 percent of its students scoring proficient or advanced in geometry. Lonoke was two points below with 58 percent making the cut and Des Arc had 56 percent make the grade.

PCSSD was 16 points below the state average, and the local schools didnít do much to help. At Jacksonville High School, 46 percent scored proficient or advanced. That fell to 40 percent at North Pulaski and 36 percent at Sylvan Hills High School.
In the area of literacy, Searcy, Cabot and Des Arc juniors beat the state average. Searcy had 72 percent proficient or advanced on the literacy exam, while Des Arc was at 64 percent and Cabot was at 56 percent proficient or advanced.
Beebe was two points above the state average at 46 percent proficient or advanced.

Lonoke, PCSSD, England and Hazen all fell below the average.

In PCSSD, the district average was 38 percent proficient or advanced, meaning 62 percent of the juniors were not reading or writing on grade level.

(In last Saturdayís Leader, Bee-beís third-grade literacy score was misreported in a chart. The correct number should be 51 percent proficient or advanced.)