This week, we are proud to release the OEP’s 2010 Report Card.Released annually; the Report Card highlights the condition of Arkansas education in several areas of interest to parents, educators, and policymakers. In past years (click here to see last year’s report card), we’ve examined not only test scores, but also such topics as graduation rates, school accountability, and teacher pay. This year, we update some areas we’ve examined previously and introduce a few new topics. We highlight the most recent state benchmark results, as well as updating results for end-of-course exams and state ACT results.
New to this year’s Report Card, we examine achievement gaps between various subgroups on the reading portion of the NAEP, levels of educational attainment for Arkansans as a whole, patterns of education spending for Arkansas and surrounding areas, and changes in the demographics of Arkansas students over the last ten-plus years.
Arkansas is moving to a new system for calculating high school graduation rates that will require better tracking of students, as well as reporting students by race, ethnicity, family income and special needs. The more rigorous graduation-rate calculations will play a greater role in determining whether high schools are identified by the state as needing improvement. Arkansas will get a first look at the new calculations for its schools and school districts when the “preliminary” rates appear on the 2010 Arkansas School Performance Report that is soon to be posted on the state Department of Education website.
A bill that would end mandatory school consolidation based solely on student population failed by one vote in the House. House Bill 2010 by Rep. Jon Hubbard, R-Jonesboro, failed in a 50-33 vote. The bill would change the state’s school consolidation law, which dictates mandatory consolidation or annexation of a district that has fewer than 350 students for two straight years. Act 60 of 2003, which includes this provision on school consolidation, was adopted as part of wide-ranging school reforms in response to a court order declaring the state’s public school funding system unconstitutional. Hubbard’s bill would shield districts that fall below the consolidation threshold if they are academically, fiscally and structurally sound.
Ten Arkansas high school seniors are among 700 students nationally who have won National Achievement Scholarships for scholastically talented black students. The $2,500 individual awards are financed by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. More than 160,000 students entered the 2011 National Achievement Scholarship Program by requesting consideration when they took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as high school juniors. The Arkansas students, their high schools, and their probable fields of study are:
Keiara L. Turner, Forrest City High School, accounting.
Destiny L. Hemphill, Conway High, education (African/African American studies).
Autumn L. Henderson, Forrest City High, law.
Johannah C. Walker, Fort Smith Southside High, physical therapy.
Miriam L. Pearsall, Little Rock Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High, chemical engineering.
Taylor D. Stevens, Little Rock Central High, industrial engineering.
Nicole A. Barnes, Marion High, accounting.
Sheridan M. McKisick of Sherwood, Little Rock Hall High,international relations.
Cicely A. Shannon of Texarkana, AR, and a student at Texas High School in Texarkana, biology/English.
Dustin L. Walter of West Memphis, Marion High, medicine.