Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

TOP STORY >>Schools reaching perfection

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

The number of students statewide who are proficient in algebra at the end of the course dropped 4 percent, down to a proficiency rate of 61 percent.

But don’t tell that to the Lonoke Middle School or Ahlf Junior High algebra students in Searcy. In Lonoke 33 percent scored proficient and the other 67 scored advanced, for a 100 percent pass rate.

John Tackett, Lonoke’s assistant superintendent, said, “We are very excited about the scores.” He attributed the students’ performance to a good foundational math program. “We push for mastery and give students a chance to achieve it. We use an assessment program that is aligned with the state frameworks and is used by the teachers to direct instruction,” he said.
Tackett added that if a student tests proficient in “say six out of 10 areas, the student is given the chance to study, practice and retests in the other four areas.”

Ahlf Junior High students did even better than Lonoke students, all 100 percent of the algebra students scored advanced, and 84 percent of the Searcy High School students scored proficient or advanced.

All students are required to take the end-of-course exams in algebra and geometry after completing the course. The tests are given in January and April. Most students in the local area took the exams in April.

In geometry, it was students from Cabot Junior High South leading the pack, with all 75 students tested scoring proficient or advanced.

Cabot Junior High North had 98 percent of its geometry students make the grade, nearly 40 percent points better than the state average of 59 percent, which was a one-point drop from the previous year.

Teresa Chance, the district’s director of curriculum, attributed the great test scores to the hard work of the teachers and students. “We try to get the everyday instruction and assessment aligned so we are doing the right things every day. The bonus is good test results. The day in and day out work in the classroom makes the difference,” Chance said.

As good as students did in algebra and geometry testing, they struggled with the 11th grade literacy exam. The state average was 51 percent, up from three straight years where only 45 percent of juniors scored proficient or advanced.

Searcy and Cabot juniors scored much better than the state average, with 74 percent of the Searcy students proficient or advanced and 69 percent of Cabot’s juniors proficient or advanced.


Algebra

Algebra students at Beebe Junior High School outpaced those at the high school on the end-of-course exam.
At the junior high level, 85 percent of the algebra students scored proficient or advanced, while 67 percent of their high school counterparts made the cut.

In Searcy, all 25 algebra students at Ahlf Junior High scored advanced, and 88 percent of the 219 high school students taking the exam scored proficient or advanced.

All of Lonoke Middle School’s 27 algebra students scored proficient or advanced, but just 58 percent of the high school’s 102 algebra students were proficient or better.

Cabot Junior High South and North algebra students were neck-and-neck with 84 percent of South’s students making the cut and 83 percent of North’s students making it.

At the high school, 41 percent of the algebra students were proficient or advanced. Also, 84 percent of the students at Cabot’s Academic Center of Excellence scored proficient or better.

Pulaski County Special School District’s algebra students scored about 25 percentage points under the state average, despite four area middle schools doing well. At Sylvan Hills Middle School, 96 percent of the algebra students scored well and 93 percent also did so at Northwood Middle School.

Students on the boys campus of Jacksonville Middle School outpaced the girls campus, with 80 percent of the boys turning in proficient or better scores compared to 69 percent of the girls.

But the district’s high schools greatly tugged the average down. Of the 281 students tested at Jacksonville High School, just 17 percent were proficient or better, 25 percent made the cut at Sylvan Hills High School and 35 percent did so at North Pulaski High School.


Geometry

Of the 240 Beebe High School geometry students taking the end-of-course state exam, 66 percent scored proficient or better. In the Searcy School District, the percentage jumped to 86 percent making the grade.

In Lonoke, 52 percent of geometry students scored proficient or advanced, seven points below the state average. In Cabot, 79 percent of all geometry students scored proficient or better. Cabot Junior High School South led the charge with 100 percent of its students proficient or advanced, followed by 98 percent at Cabot Junior High North.

At the high school, 72 percent scored well enough, but just 56 percent did so at the Academic Center of Excellence.
The PCSSD average of 39 percent proficient or advanced was 20 points below the state average.

Of the 216 students tested at Sylvan Hills High School, 49 percent scored proficient or advanced, while 42 percent did so at North Pulaski High School and just 27 percent at Jacksonville High School.


Literacy

In the area of literacy, just slightly more than half of the state’s high school juniors are proficient or advanced. Searcy and Cabot juniors are about 20 points above that, while in Lonoke, Beebe and PCSSD; the average is about eight to 10 points below the state average.

In Searcy, 74 percent of juniors are literacy proficient or advanced. In Cabot, about two-thirds of the juniors make the cut.
But in Lonoke, it’s just 40 percent and in Beebe it’s 49 percent.

IN PCSSD the percent of juniors scoring proficient or advanced in literacy is 41 percent, with 43 percent of Sylvan Hills High School juniors making the grade, 42 percent at North Pulaski High School and 33 percent at Jacksonville High.


Seventh grade

On the seventh-grade benchmark exams, the state average was 58 percent proficient or advanced in math and 57 percent in literacy.

Beebe and Searcy seventh graders bested the state average. In Beebe 70 percent were proficient or advanced in math and 69 percent made the cut in literacy. In Searcy, 74 percent did well in math and 76 percent scored proficient or advanced in literacy.

Cabot also did better than the state average. Of Cabot’s 725 seventh graders, 72 percent scored proficient or better in math and 69 percent did so in literacy.

In Lonoke, 67 percent of the seventh graders scored proficient or better in math and 56 percent did so in literacy.
In PCSSD, just 41 percent made the cut in math and 52 percent in literacy. At Sylvan Hills Middle School, 50 percent of the students scored proficient or better in math and 60 percent did so in literacy.

At Northwood, 39 percent made the cut in math, while 57 percent did so in literacy.

At the boys campus of Jacksonville Middle School, just 27 percent scored proficient or better in math and 29 percent did so in literacy.

On the girls’ campus, 23 percent made the grade in math and 45 percent did so in literacy.
Eighth grade

The state average for the eighth-grade benchmark exam was 48 percent scoring proficient or advanced in math and 63 percent in literacy. In Beebe, 68 percent of eighth graders scored proficient or better in math and 66 percent did so in literacy. In Searcy, it was 71 percent proficient or better in math and 77 percent in literacy.

In Cabot, 62 percent of the eighth graders made the cut in math and 74 percent did so in literacy. Lonoke had 48 percent score proficient or better in math and 68 percent in literacy.

In PCSSD, the district eighth-average was just 29 percent proficient or advanced in math, but 56 percent proficient or better in literacy.

At Sylvan Hills Middle School, 33 percent made the cut in math and 65 percent in literacy, while at Northwood it was 30 percent making the grade in math and 62 percent in literacy. At the boys’ campus of Jacksonville Middle School, it was 27 percent proficient or better in math and 38 percent in literacy. On the girls’ side it was 18 percent proficient or better in math and 57 percent making the cut in literacy.

Corrections: In Saturday’s story on benchmark scores from the third through the sixth grade, three sets of scores from Arnold Drive Elementary were miscalculated. The third-grade literacy score was reported at 42 percent proficient or advanced, but actually was 68 percent. The fourth-grade math score was reported as 87 percent proficient or advanced, but actually it was 97 percent, the top fourth-grade score in math in PCSSD. Fourth-grade literacy was reported at 79 percent proficient or advanced, but was actually 69 percent.