Leader Blues

Saturday, October 20, 2007

TOP STORY >>18 Schools in area go on state's watch list

IN SHORT: Cabot has three schools on the 2007 improvement list as does Lonoke, while Pulaski County Special School District has six schools in Jacksonville and three in Sherwood that must make adequate progress on their test scores or face possible takeover by the state Education Department. Beebe has one school listed, and Searcy has two that are in trouble.

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Eighteen schools in four local school districts are on the state improvement list because they are not making adequate yearly progress, according to last year’s benchmark and end-of-course exams.

Overall, the 2007 school improvement list for Arkansas includes 325 schools, compared to 304 for the previous year, according to Dr. Ken James, the state’s education commissioner.

In Cabot, Cabot Junior High South and Cabot Middle School South are on the list for the first time. Cabot Middle School North is in its second year on the list.

In Lonoke, Lonoke High School is in year one, the elementary school is in year two and the middle school is in year three.
Pulaski County Special School District schools in Jacksonville and Sherwood that are on the list include Jacksonville Elementary (year two), Jacksonville Middle Girls School (year three), Sylvan Hills Middle School (year five), Jacksonville High School (year four), North Pulaski High School (year four), Oakbrook Elementary (year one), Northwood Middle School (year four) and Murrell Taylor Elementary (year three).

It’s also the first year for Beebe Middle School, as well as Southwest Middle School and Ahlf Junior High School in Searcy.
Schools can be placed on the list when their overall benchmark scores do not adequately progress toward the state goal of having all students on grade level in mathematics and literacy by the 2013-2014 school year, or if one of six subgroups of students—African American, Hispanics, Caucasians, economically disadvantaged, those with limited proficiency of English and students with disabilities.

“No one wants to hear that his or her school has been placed on the school improvement list,” said Dr. James. “But, at its best, the process is meant to be corrective, not punitive.”

Once on the list, a school must show two years of adequate growth in test scores before being released.

Cabot’s two middle schools are on the list because the literacy scores of the students with disabilities are not good enough. Cabot Junior High South did not make the grade in math or literacy with students with disabilities.

Lonoke’s elementary and middle schools also had insufficient progress in literacy in the students with disabilities subgroup. African American scores in math and economically disadvantaged scores in literacy put the high school on the improvement list.

In Jacksonville, the high school had eight areas that need improvement, including the combined population in math and literacy, African Americans in math and literacy, Caucasians in math, the economically disadvantaged in math and literacy and students with disabilities in math.

North Pulaski High School failed to make appropriate progress in six areas, including combined population in math and literacy, African Americans in math, economically disadvantaged in math and literacy and students with disabilities in math.

Jacksonville Middle Girls School failed to have adequate progress in the math scores of the economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities. Students with disabilities also did not score high enough in literacy. Northwood Junior High is on the list because of its math and literacy scores among students with disabilities.

Murrell Taylor Elementary made sufficient progress on its test scores, but will need to do it again this year to get off the list. Jacksonville Elementary was also on the list, but the state Education Department did not list any categories.

In Sherwood, Sylvan Hills High School had five deficient areas, including African Americans in math and literacy, the combined population in literacy and the economically disadvantaged in math and literacy. It was math and literacy scores among students with disabilities, which placed Sylvan Hills Middle School on the state list.

Beebe Middle School and Ahlf Junior High also didn’t make the grade with its math and literacy scores among students with disabilities. Southwest Middle School had one area of weakness, which was literacy among students with disabilities.

According to the state Education Department, of the 325 schools on the current improvement list, 108 are in year one, 65 are in year two, 73 are in year three and 58 are in year four, 18 are in year five.

Two schools have been on the list for six years, while one is in its seventh year.
The state could take over schools after four years on the watch list.