Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

EDITORIAL >> When schools reach the top

The Leader’s education reporters often put the spotlight on area schools that do well in the field of academic excellence. In two recent articles — the latest appeared last Saturday headlined, “Two schools here rank high in state” — we reported on high benchmark scores for Arnold Drive Elementary School at Little Rock Air Force Base and Magness Creek Elementary School in Cabot.

Arnold Drive Elementary is the fourth-best school in Arkansas based on recent benchmark test scores. Cabot’s Magness Creek Elementary ranked sixth overall in the state.

Cabot Middle School North and South, along with Searcy’s Southwest Middle School and Westside Elementary, were listed in the top 20 schools in the state.

The rankings come from a report published last month by the University of Arkansas’ Office for Education Policy.

Based on the research in “Outstanding Educational Performance Awards: Highlighting Top Achieving Arkansas Schools, 2009,” Magness Creek was in a six-way tie for fifth in the state based on its math benchmark scores. The school has 95 percent of its third, fourth and fifth grades scoring proficient or advanced.

Arnold Drive Elementary was in a six-way tie for sixth, with 94 percent of its students scoring proficient or above in math.

Looking at the literacy scores, Arnold Drive had the fourth best score in the state with 92 percent of its students achieving proficient or advanced on the 2008-2009 annual state exams. Magness Creek Elementary was in a five-way tie for ninth with its third-, fourth- and fifth-graders having a proficient or better rate of 87 percent.

All schools are supposed to be at 100 percent proficient or advanced by the end of the 2013-2014 school year to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. But Arnold Drive, Magness Creek and several others are well ahead of the rest of the pack.

When both the math and literacy scores are combined, according to the report, Arnold Drive is the fourth-best school in the state with 93 percent of its third, fourth and fifth graders scoring proficient or advanced. Magness Creek is one of four schools with a 91 percent passing rate, making it the sixth-best elementary school in the state.

In the middle school category, grades 6 through 8, Cabot Middle School North and South finished in a five-way tie for seventh best in the state. Both schools had 86 percent of their students proficient or advanced in math. Searcy’s Southwest Middle
School was right behind them.

Cabot Middle School South and North both had combined proficient or better rates of 84 percent, putting them in a three-way tie for seventh best in the state. Southwest Middle School ranked fourth overall.

The mission of the U of A’s Office for Education Policy has been to look at pressing academic issues. But in their latest report, the authors of this report pointed out, “Every once in a while we think it is okay to stray from issue analysis and simply share some good news. So, in this report we merely aim to highlight excellent performance and give our congratulations.”

The students, parents and staff at Arnold Drive and Magness Creek can all take a bow, and so can all the their counterparts in the area who are striving to do their best. You make us proud.