Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

TOP STORY >> Two area schools are making gains

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Harris Elementary School and Jacksonville Middle School are among schools across the state that saw the most improvement last year based on benchmark and other annual state tests.

In its final report on the 2009 benchmark and other tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act, the University of Arkansas’ Office of Education Policy focused on schools making the greatest gain from 2008 to 2009.

Harris Elementary, located on Hwy. 161 just south of Sherwood, was in a three-way tie for fourth-most improved elementary school in the state in the area of mathematics.

In 2008, the school had just 29 percent of its students scoring proficient or advanced in math. It jumped 19 percent in 2009 with 48 percent of its students making the grade.

The top elementary school in the state in math was Lucilia Wood Elementary in Marvell, improving 33 percent.

Harris was the most improved school in the central region.

In the area of literacy, Harris once again made solid gains, landing in a two-way tie for seventh best in the state and third in the region.

In 2008, 28 percent of Harris students scored proficient or advanced in literacy and that jumped to 44 percent in 2009.

Lucilia Wood was the top gainer in literacy too, moving from 14 percent to 59 percent proficient or advanced.

Jacksonville Middle School was the fifth most-improved middle school in the central region in literacy, moving up 11 points from 50 percent proficient or advanced to 61 percent.

The middle school’s girls campus improved 39 points on its end-of-course algebra scores, making it the fifth-most improved in the state and second in the region. In 2008, 55 percent of its students scored proficient or advanced in algebra, while in 2009 that figure jumped to 94 percent.

Federal law requires all students to be 100 percent proficient or advanced at their grade level or subject matter by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Based on correct answers, students are rated as advanced, proficient, basic or below basic.

An advanced student, according to the grading scale, needs little help, is working above grade level and is ready for the next grade.

A proficient student is working on grade level and needs help from time to time. A proficient student is also ready for the next grade.

A basic student may or may not be working on grade level and needs help correctly completing grade-level work. According to state lawm, a basic student can be retained.

A student working at a below basic level is having extreme difficult with grade-level work and needs lots of assistance. The student may also be retained.

The mission of the Office for Education Policy, since its inception in 2003, has been to look at pressing issues through the lens of academic research and disseminate its findings to educators, policymakers and other stakeholders around Arkansas.

“Every once in a while, however, we think it is okay to stray from issue analysis and simply share some good news. Throughout this report, we have highlighted outstanding schools in Arkansas,” said Bentley Kirkland, one of the authors of the report.