Leader Blues

Saturday, March 15, 2008

TOP STORY > >PCSSD trying to do better

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District is working hard to get several of its schools off a list that nobody wants to be on.
Nearly a dozen Arkansas school districts have not made adequate yearly progress, including Pulaski County Special School District, according to the Department of Education.

The PCSSD has 17 individual schools on the improvement list.

Landing on the ďdistrict improvement list,Ē means too many students in the district didnít score proficient or advanced on the state benchmark exams.

Jacksonville and Sherwood schools are part of the Pulaski County Special School District.

The district is in its first year of improvement, explained Julie Thompson, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Education.

Because it is on its list, the district must show that it is spending at least 10 percent of its Title One money on professional development to improve the knowledge, class management and teaching strategies of the districtís teachers. This 10-percent has to be above what it normally spends on professional staff development.

ďThe district is also required to develop and implement a plan to improve student performance on the benchmark exams,Ē explained Thompson. ďThat plan should be in place by next school year.Ē

All students in the state are required to be on grade level, meaning that they score proficient or advanced on the benchmark exams, by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. To reach that goal, districts need to increase the number of students scoring adequate or proficient each year. Gains of less than that means the district did not make adequate yearly progress.

That progress has to be made across the board as well as among several subgroups.

County schools in the Jacksonville and Sherwood area that are on the school improvement list include:

Jacksonville Elementary is on the improvement list for the second year in a row.

Jacksonville Middle School-girls campus is on the list for the third year in a row. For the 2006-2007 school year, its economically disadvantaged students didnít make enough progress in math and students with disabilities didnít make enough progress in math or literacy.

Sylvan Hills Middle School has been on the needs improvement list for five years now. Its students with disabilities didnít make enough improvement last year in math or literacy.

Jacksonville High School is in on the list for the fourth year. Its combined population didnít score well enough in math or literacy; neither did the African American students or the economically disadvantaged. Caucasian students and those with disabilities failed to make the grade in math.

Sylvan Hills High School is in its third year of school improvement. Last year, its African Americans students and those with disabilities failed to make enough progress in math or literacy. Also the schoolís combined population didnít do well enough in literacy.

North Pulaski High School which is in year four of school improvement had the same problem areas as Sylvan Hills High School, plus its students with disabilities didnít score well enough in math.

Oakbrooke Elementary, in its first year of school improvement, had weaknesses in math with its African American and economically disadvantaged students.

Northwood Middle School has been on the list for four years now. Its students with disabilities didnít score well enough in math or literacy last year.

Murrell Taylor Elementary is in year three of school improvement and made adequate progress last year, but a school doesnít get off the list until it shows progress for two straight years.

Other districts besides PCSSD on the state improvement list include Little Rock, North Little Rock, Fordyce, McGehee, Dollarway, Osceola, Brinkley, Clarendon, Fort Smith and Hughes School District.