University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Outstanding Educational Performance: High Growth Middle Schools

In The View from the OEP on November 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm

 

Today’s 2017-18 Outstanding Educational Performance Awards (also known as the OEP Awards) are for High Growth middle schools. These awards are based on student growth on the ACT Aspire exams in Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA). Growth is calculated at the student level, and essentially reflects how much a student has improved his or her score from the prior year compared to what was predicted based on prior achievement history.

OEP Awards are different than other awards because we examine growth specifically by content area.  We do this because we think it is important to examine each subject separately and without including the English Proficiency progress for English Language Learners (which should also be examined separately).

We celebrate the state using this student-level growth model, and are pleased to be able to highlight how students are growing academically in middle schools across the state. We hope that drawing attention to the growth information will spark discussions among stakeholders about how to ensure all schools are growing the knowledge of Arkansas students.

We give OEP Awards based on student growth because we think it is a better reflection of how the school is impacting students rather than proficiency rates. Proficiency rates, even those that move beyond the ‘percent proficient’ like our OEP GPA and Arkansas’ weighted achievement score, are more correlated with student demographics than growth scores. This means that schools are equally as likely to demonstrate high student growth regardless of the characteristics of the students that they serve.

We celebrate two types of schools this year: “High-Growth” and “Beating the Odds”. High Growth schools are those whose students demonstrated the highest growth on the ACT Aspire tests, and “Beating the Odds” are the highest growth schools serving low-income communities.

Highest Growth: Middle Level

The top middle level school for overall student growth is Heber Springs Middle from Herber Springs School District, with a growth score of 86.35. Paragould Junior High from Paragould School District had the highest Math growth with a score of 88.75, while Pleasant View Campus had the highest growth in ELA at 86.65.

The top 20 middle level schools for overall content growth are:

  1. Heber Springs Middle, Heber Springs SD (51% FRL)*
  2. Valley Springs Middle, Valley Springs SD (42% FRL)*
  3. LISA Academy North Middle Charter, LISA Academy (49% FRL)*
  4. Oak Grove Middle, Paragould SD (76% FRL)
  5. Cabot Middle North, Cabot SD (37% FRL)*
  6. Lincoln Junior High, Bentonville SD (26% FRL)*
  7. A. Chaffin Jr. High, Fort Smith SD (42% FRL)*
  8. Cabot Junior High North, Cabot SD (34% FRL)*
  9. Manila Middle, Manila SD (56% FRL)
  10. Paragould Junior High, Paragould SD (71% FRL)*
  11. William Fulbright Junior High, Bentonville SD (18% FRL)*
  12. Swifton Middle, Jackson Co. SD (63% FRL)
  13. Bismarck Middle, Bismarck SD (59% FRL)*
  14. Washington Junior High, Bentonville SD (26% FRL)
  15. Cedarville Middle, Cedarville SD (73% FRL)
  16. Gravette Middle, Gravette SD (48% FRL)
  17. Pleasant View Campus, Mulberry/Pleasant View Bi-County Schools (77% FRL)
  18. LISA Academy, LISA Academy SD (44% FRL)
  19. Helen Tyson Middle, Springdale SD (75% FRL)
  20. Butterfield Trail Middle, Van Buren SD (70% FRL)

We were pleased to see the variety of middle level schools on our list of those demonstrating high student growth. We included the percentage of students in the school who participate in the Free/Reduced Lunch program (due to low household income) to demonstrate why we like to talk about growth! The percentage of students eligible for FRL among these high-growth middle level schools ranges from a low of 18% to a high of 77%, reflecting how growth is possible for all types of schools!

*Schools with an asterisk were also on the top 20 list last year! Half of the schools on our list- demonstrate that high growth can be achieved year after year. These are schools that are consistently growing student’s academic performance more than would be expected. Way to go!

You can find the middle level schools with the greatest student growth by subject and region in the full report.

 

———-Stay tuned to learn about more OEP Award Winners!——–

Next week we will share “High Growth” High Schools, and then we will release the list of high growth schools serving high poverty populations, those who are “Beating the Odds!”

 

Advertisements

Outstanding Educational Performance: High Growth Elementary Schools

In The View from the OEP on November 7, 2018 at 10:26 am

 

Here at the OEP we are excited to celebrate the highest-growth schools across the state in our 2017-18 Outstanding Educational Performance Awards (also known as the OEP Awards)!

The OEP Awards highlight schools in Arkansas based on student growth on the ACT Aspire exams in Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA). Growth is calculated at the student level, and essentially reflects how much a student has improved his or her score from the prior year compared to what was predicted based on prior achievement history.

We celebrate the state using this student-level growth model, and are pleased to be able to highlight how students are growing academically in schools across the state.  We hope that drawing attention to the growth information will spark discussions among stakeholders about how to ensure all schools are growing the knowledge of Arkansas students.

We give OEP Awards based on student growth because we think it is a better reflection of how the school is impacting students rather than proficiency rates.  Proficiency rates, even those that move beyond the ‘percent proficient’ like our OEP GPA and Arkansas’ weighted achievement score, are more correlated with student demographic characteristics, such as eligibility for the federal Free/Reduced Lunch program, than growth scores. This means that schools are equally as likely to demonstrate high student growth regardless of the characteristics of the students that they serve.

How are the OEP awards different?

Simple- OEP Awards are based on student growth.

We examine growth specifically by content area, because we think it is important to examine each subject separately and without including the English Proficiency progress for English Language Learners (which should also be examined separately).  Another difference is that unlike the state performance awards that were given out last week, OEP awards are grouped by school level (Elementary, Middle, and High) and by Region (Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southwest, and Southeast).

We celebrate two types of schools this year: “High-Growth” and “Beating the Odds”.  High-Growth schools are those whose students demonstrated the highest growth on the ACT Aspire tests, and “Beating the Odds” are the highest growth schools serving low-income communities.

Today’s awards for High Growth Elementary schools are based on the growth of elementary students on the ACT Aspire Math and English Language Arts assessments.

Highest Growth: Elementary Level

The top elementary school for overall student growth is Center Valley Elementary from Russellville School District, with a growth score of 90.55. City Heights Elementary from Van Buren School District had the highest Math growth with a score of 93.65, while Center Valley Elementary also obtained the highest growth score in ELA at 91.20.

The top 20 elementary schools for overall content growth are:

  1. Center Valley Elementary, Russellville SD (47% FRL)
  2. City Heights Elementary, Van Buren SD (62% FRL)*
  3. Greenbrier Springhill Elementary, Greenbrier SD (41% FRL)*
  4. Crawford Elementary, Russellville SD (89% FRL)
  5. Greenbrier Wooster Elementary, Greenbrier SD (43% FRL)*
  6. Salem Elementary, Salem SD (65% FRL)*
  7. Sequoyah Elementary, Russellville SD (43% FRL)
  8. Bismarck Elementary, Bismarck SD (71% FRL)*
  9. Oscar Hamilton Elementary, Foreman SD (74% FRL)*
  10. Parson Hills Elementary, Springdale SD (95% FRL)
  11. John Tyson Elementary, Springdale SD (77% FRL)*
  12. Cross County Elementary Tech Academy, Cross County SD (73% FRL)
  13. Genoa Central Elementary, Genoa Central SD (47% FRL)
  14. Des Arc Elementary, Des Arc SD (69% FRL)
  15. Monitor Elementary, Springdale SD (84% FRL)
  16. Eastside Elementary, Cabot SD (35% FRL)*
  17. Sonora Elementary, Springdale SD (74% FRL)*
  18. Cavanaugh Elementary, Fort Smith SD (60% FRL)*
  19. Hunt Elementary, Springdale SD (44% FRL)*
  20. Pottsville Elementary, Pottsville SD (53% FRL)*

*Schools with an asterisk were also on the top 20 list last year! Over half of the schools on our list- demonstrate that high growth can be achieved year after year. These are schools that are consistently growing student’s academic performance more than would be expected. Way to go!

Similarly to last year’s list, a variety of schools have shown high growth when observed through the lens of the percentage of students served Free/Reduced Lunch. The proportion of students eligible for FRL among these high-growth schools ranges from a low of 35% to a high of 95%, reflecting how growth is possible for all types of schools!

You can find the elementary schools with the greatest student growth by subject and region in the full report.

———-Stay tuned to learn about more OEP Award Winners!——–

Next week we will share “High Growth” Middle level schools, followed by High Schools, and then we will release the list of high growth schools serving high poverty populations, those who are “Beating the Odds!”

Let’s Reward Growth!

In The View from the OEP on October 31, 2018 at 11:39 am

This week, Arkansas schools received nearly $7 million in reward money from the Arkansas’ School Recognition Program. This program provides funds for “outstanding schools”.  Schools are rewarded for being in the top 10 percent of schools in the state for academic achievement and/or academic growth.

Here at OEP, we are glad that schools are being rewarded, but think the program could be improved in three ways:

  1. Award all the funds to schools where students are showing high academic growth,
  2. Remove graduation rate from the calculations, and
  3. Reward schools for highest growth ranking within school level (Elementary, Middle, or High) instead of across all schools.

Put the Money Where the Growth is

We wish that all the reward and recognition funds were given to those schools where students are demonstrating high academic growth! Of course we think academic achievement is important, but suggest that it is not the best indicator of how well a school is educating students. We have talked before about the clear relationship between academic achievement and poverty, because students from homes with greater resources are likely to perform better on the annual assessments in in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Academic growth, on the other hand, reflects how much improvement the students are making from year to year, which is what school personnel can impact directly through high-quality instruction. Recognizing and rewarding schools where teachers are growing students’ academic performance is critical to ensure that our teachers feel supported in their work to help every student learn every day.

It is important we all understand that high academic achievement and high growth are not mutually exclusive! There are 10 schools (listed below) that were in the top 5% for both academic achievement and growth.

Table 1: Schools Identified in the top 5% of schools in the state for both Growth and Achievement, 2017-18.

top 5%Notice that among these 10 schools recognized for top-tier growth and achievement, there are schools with very small percentages of students eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch (a proxy for poverty), as well as schools with FRL rates above the state average of 63%. We are excited to see high growth and at all types of schools!  Salem Elementary and Bismark Elementary serve populations that are 65% and 71% FRL respectively, but are in the top 5% of schools in the state for both achievement and growth. We are excited to see that these top-tier schools serve different types of student populations, but are all serving their students so well!

In fact, half of the schools in the top 5% for growth serve a higher than average percentage of students eligible for FRL – topping out with Parson Hills in Springdale and Tilles in Forth Smith which both serve over 90% of students eligible for FRL.

When it comes to high-ranking in achievement, however, schools serving more disadvantaged populations are harder to find. Only five of the schools that made the top tier in achievement were above the state average %FRL (including Salem and Bismarck- that we already mentioned).

This means we have a bunch of high-achieving schools getting reward money that aren’t showing top tier student growth. Most of the schools recognized for high achievement demonstrate above average growth, ten rewarded schools had growth below the state average.  In fact, 4 schools rewarded for high achievement were in the bottom quartile for growth among all schools in the state. We aren’t going to name those schools here- but recommend that you check out how well your school performed in growth in these easy to interpret school info one-pagers. Just select your school see the percentile rank for achievement, growth, and SQSS indicators.


What’s The Deal with Graduation Rate?

For high schools, the current law requires that graduation rate be included in the ‘growth’ calculation. It’s odd, and likely a leftover from the old days when we didn’t have growth indicators for high school, but at least it isn’t biased against schools serving more at-risk students since graduation rates aren’t really correlated with poverty rates! (r=-0.17). This year, both the 4- and 5- year graduation rates were included, which we think is an improvement because it at least benefits schools that are going the extra mile to help all kids graduate, even if it takes extra time.  Overall though, we think the recognition program should remove graduation rate from the calculations, because they just inflate growth scores for high schools, and makes the system misaligned with ESSA.


Reward Within School Level

The legislation for the reward program clearly states that schools will be rewarded for being in the top tier “of all public schools”, but here at OEP, we would love to see schools awarded recognition and reward money based on their ranking WITHIN their school level.  Making this change would be more equitable for all schools, and would align more closely with the state’s ESSA plan. If we want to incentivize schools to show growth, we have to make sure schools in all levels have a chance for rewards and recognition.


We Do It Our Way

We give OEP awards according to our preferences: only for growth, without graduation rate consideration for high schools, and within school level. In addition, we separate out growth in math and growth in ELA, because we think schools should be rewarded for their successes.

Tune in next week to find out which Elementary level schools receive OEP Awards for 2018!