University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

High Praise for High Achieving Schools in Low Income Communities: OEP Awards

In The View from the OEP on September 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

Two weeks ago, we released the first installment of the 2012 OEP Awards highlighting excellent performance by students and teachers in elementary and middle schools across the state.  This year’s OEP Awards are based on the April 2012 Arkansas Benchmark exam scores for students in grades 3-8. Each table presented in the report presents the top-achieving schools for the noted subject and school level. In addition, these tables include the region in which the school is located, the grades served at the school, the percent of students scoring at the proficient and advanced levels in 2012, and the GPA of the school in that particular subject (read more about our GPA measure here).

We are always excited to release the second installment of the OEP Awards recognizing high achieving schools in low-income communities – or “high poverty” schools that are “beating the odds.” In this section of the report, a school is classified as “high-poverty” if at least two-thirds (66%) of the students in the school were eligible for the Free or Reduced Lunch (FRL) program in the 2011-12 school year. In 2011-2012, approximately 59% of the state’s elementary schools (300 of 509) and approximately 43% of middle schools (157 of 367) served student populations facing this level of economic disadvantage (66% or more students FRL-eligible). While roughly 62% of the state’s elementary and middle school students were eligible for FRL, the “high-poverty” schools served more disadvantaged populations, with an average of 79% of the students in these schools eligible for FRL.

Lakeside School District Superintendent Joyce Vaught (Photo retrieved from The Eudora Project, click image for more information)

You can read the report to see all of the schools earning this achievement, but we want to again recognize Eudora Elementary School in the Lakeside School District for not only being recognized as a “beating the odds” school, but for also being highlighted as a top performing “overall” school in our first installment of the OEP Awards. Eudora Elementary was the top-performing school among our top 25 elementary schools on benchmark math achievement. Eudora Elementary earned a GPA of 3.77 and had 91% of their students (with 93% of the student population in the school FRL-eligible) score at the proficient or advanced level on the Arkansas Benchmark exam in math. Congratulations to the students, to Principal James Maiden and his staff, and Superintendent Joyce Vaught (pictured) on being recognized in two consecutive installments of the OEP Awards!!

We also had a repeat performer among middle schools. Topping the list for benchmark literacy achievement among middle schools was Hector High School in the Hector School District. As was the case in the previous installment of the OEP Awards, Hector High are newcomers to this OEP Awards list (that is, the school was not highlighted in the same category last year). We would like to congratulate Principal Jordan Price and all the staff at Hector High on achieving a benchmark literacy GPA of 3.45 (and 95% of the students scoring at the proficient or advanced level on the same subtest) with a student population that is 71% FRL-eligible. Way to beat the odds!

After noticing that the majority of the schools being recognized were concentrated in one region of the state, we decided to create a new category this year to identify schools beating the “extreme” odds. Unlike the schools highlighted above, the schools on the following lists are schools with 90% or more FRL-eligible students.

Again, we would like to congratulate Eudora Elementary on being recognized as a top achieving school on the math and literacy benchmark exams in this category. However, they were not the only school being recognized for both math and literacy performance. For example, they share spots on the list with SMC Elementary at Luxora in the South Mississippi County School District, Glenview Elementary School in the North Little Rock School District, and Wonder Elementary School in the West Memphis School District. Read the full report to learn more about their high performance!!

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