Leader Blues

Friday, August 11, 2006

TOP STORY >> Beebe only district to meet U.S. standards

IN SHORT: Several schools are cited for not keeping with federal No Child Left Behind Act.

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

Beebe is the only school district locally that was not on the state’s school improvement list of 325 schools that aren’t keeping up with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“I think most of those schools on the list are doing a lot of things right. I think it will be difficult for schools to not be on the list at one time or another because of the way the schools are measured,” said Belinda Shook, superintendent of Beebe.

Of the schools on the list, 14 are in the local area, including one, for the first time, in Cabot.

A school can be placed on the list or remain on the list if it doesn’t, as a whole or its various subgroups don’t make adequate yearly progress (AYP) on the state benchmark or end-of-course exams.

All students are supposed to be scoring proficient or advanced on the exams by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Schools in the local area placed on the recently released school improvement list include Lonoke Elementary, England High School, Jacksonville Elementary and Cabot Middle School North — all on Year One status.

Jacksonville Middle School and Sylvan High School are in Year Two status, while Lonoke Middle School, England Middle School, Jacksonville High School, North Pulaski High School, Northwood Middle School and Murrell Taylor are in Year Three status.

Sylvan Hills Middle School is in Year Four status.

The following actions occur, ac-cording to the state Education Department, with each successive year of not meeting adequate yearly progress.

School Improvement Year 1: School must provide choice option for students to attend another school in the district not in im-provement.

School may, at the option of the school/district, offer supplemental services if choice is not an option;

School Improvement Year 2: School must continue to provide choice and add the option of supplemental services to students who qualify;

School Improvement Year 3: District is required to establish and implement a plan of corrective action;

School Improvement Year 4: District is required to plan to restructure the identified school;

School Improvement Year 5: District is required to implement restructuring of school;

School Improvement Year 6: District/school must continue with restructuring efforts.

About 50 more schools are in some phase of school improvement this year than last year.

Much of that is due to the fact that grades three, five and seven were added to the calculations this yea, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

In doing that, schools became more likely to have subgroups with 40 or more students in them.

Subgroups of students with 40 or more from across all grades within a school must also meet AYP in both literacy and math; if a single subgroup does not meet the annual yearly progress goals in either subject, the entire school is placed in school improvement.

Subgroups that could put a school on the improvement list include economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency, African-Ame-rican students, Caucasian students and Hispanic students.

Cabot Middle School North made the list because its students with disabilities didn’t score well enough in math or literacy.

“We are looking at what we can do to help the special education students meet the math and literacy requirements not just at Middle School North but throughout the district,” said Frank Holman, superintendent of the Cabot School District.

“I think Ms. Calhoun and her staff are doing some great things in helping special education students progress,” Holman said.

Jacksonville Elementary was added to the list because its economically disadvantaged students didn’t make enough progress in math.

The state did not list specific reasons for adding Lonoke Ele-mentary or England High School to the list.

Jacksonville Middle School stayed on the list because its combined population, as well as African American and economically disadvantaged students, did not make adequate progress in math.

Sylvan Hills High School stayed on the list because its African American students failed to do well in math or literacy, and its economically disadvantaged students also didn’t do well in math.

Lonoke Middle School re-mained on the list because its African-American and economically disadvantaged students, as well as those with disabilities, didn’t make progress in math.

Students with disabilities also failed to make progress in literacy.

England Middle School stayed on the list because its combined population, African-American students and economically disadvantages students failed to do well enough in literacy.

The school’s African-American and economically disadvantaged students also failed to progress in math.

Jacksonville High School moved to Year 3 status because its combined population failed to make adequate progress in math or literacy.

Also its African-American and economically disadvantaged students did not do well in math or literacy.

At North Pulaski High School, its African-American students didn’t make enough progress in math or literacy.

Northwood Middle School remained on the list because its economically disadvantaged students didn’t do well in math and students with disabilities failed to make enough progress in math or literacy.

While at Murrell Taylor Ele-mentary, the combined population failed to make the grade in literacy. Sylvan Hills Middle School’s students with disabilities failed to make progress in math or literacy.

Sylvan Hills Middle School’s economically disadvantaged students didn’t make the cut in math.

“The end goal of No Child Left Behind and, more specifically, of determining schools that are not meeting adequate yearly progress, is a good one – making all schools accountable for the academic success of each and every student,” said Ken James, ADE commis-sioner.

“By identifying schools that don’t make AYP (adequate yearly progress),” James said, “We are able to help them identify areas that need strengthening through professional development or through spending additional time engaging students in the learning process. It’s really meant to be a corrective and not a punitive system.”

To that end, this year the state Department of Education is implementing America’s Choice, a “turn-around” model for schools that last year were as identified as being in years three, four or five of school improvement.

America’s Choice is a research-based set of strategies shown to improve the overall academic success in low performing schools.

The program will be initiated at Sylvan Hills Middle School this school year.

Across the state, schools that did not achieve adequate yearly progress this year as mandated included:

- 96 school that are in year one of school improvement

- 37 that are in year two of school improvement

- 90 that are in year three of school improvement

- 30 that are in year four of school improvement

- Three are in year five of school improvement

- One is in year six of school improvement

- 68 schools that have been in school improvement achieved adequate yearly progress this past school year, but need two
consecutive years of improvement to be taken off the list.

Schools have 30 days to appeal their status in regard to AYP.

Many times, according to James, these appeals are made because of coding errors that place students in the wrong subgroup.

These appeals do sometimes change a school’s status, and the Arkansas Department of Edu-cation will release a revised list once all of the appeals have been processed.

The list of schools in School Improvement is available under “What’s New” on the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Web site, http://ArkansasEd.org.

Arkansas has just over 1,100 public schools serving students in grades kindergarten through 12.