University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Back to School!!!

In The View from the OEP on August 22, 2012 at 11:16 am

Welcome Back Kotter!

As we are sure you have been told numerous times over this past week, WELCOME BACK!!! We hope everyone had a restful yet exciting summer vacation! We stayed busy in the OEP all summer (with a vacation here and there) – and even highlighted some of the big news stories that happened over the summer in a previous blog post.

Also during the summer, we spent some time gathering information for a few pre-start-of school publications. For example, in early August, the Arkansas Department of Education released the Benchmark, End-of-Course (EOC), and Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) results from the 2011-12 academic year. We promptly released a policy brief summarizing statewide performance on these exams and reported that student scores on these exams have increased over the previous years. In fact, there was a remarkable jump in literacy scores from the 2010-11 to the 2011-12 academic year.  Last year, 75% of test takers scored at the proficient or advanced level…but in 2011-12, that performance indicator grew by six percentage points to 81%! That is a substantial one-year gain. In fact, Arkansas students have not had an annual gain that large since the 2005-06 academic year when they grew seven percentage points in literacy over the previous year. You can read more about Arkansas’ student test performance in the 2011-12 Arkansas Test Results policy brief.

More recently, after reading the ADE’s 158 page document outlining Arkansas’ Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver Request, we condensed and presented the highlights in a six-page policy brief, described in a more abbreviated blog post on the subject. This brief discusses new ways schools will be measured in the absence of NCLB stalwart Adequate Yearly Progress – or AYP. We highlight the move toward Targeted Achievement Gap Groups (or TAGG), which encourages schools to focus on groups of students for whom the academic achievement gaps are most prominent. To learn more, read our ESEA Waiver Approval Update policy brief.

We have an exciting year in store for you at the OEP. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing our annual OEP Awards, where we recognize the top performing schools across the state on the Benchmark and End-of-Course exams. You can review last year’s OEP Awards here. In addition to the OEP Awards, we will also be releasing an update on the School Choice Law ruling, and a more in-depth look at student performance on the state exams – as well as many other publications as new and exciting information comes our way. It’s going to be an exciting year! We wish all educators the best of luck as we move forward through the school year!

We’d love to know what types of information you would like us to cover. Perhaps you have an idea for a research study or OEP Policy Brief. By all means, give us your input! Leave us a comment below and let us know what we can to to help!

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