The Board chambers was full of attendees, many of whom were there in support of keeping Weiner High School open. Some in opposition to the closing of Weiner High School spoke before the board, noting the high academic achievement at Weiner HS.
We decided to see how accurate some of these statements were by examining the two school’s 2011-12 Benchmark and End-of-Course Exam achievement:
- 81% of tested students at Weiner HS (grades 7 and 8) and 64% of tested students at Harrisburg Middle School (grades 5-8) scored at the proficient or advanced level on the benchmark exam in math.
- 89% of tested students at Weiner HS (grades 7 and 8) and 71% of tested students at Harrisburg Middle School (grades 5-8) scored at the proficient or advanced level on the benchmark exam in literacy.
- Harrisburg High School (grades 9-12) outperforms Weiner HS (grades 7-12) on 3 out of 4 End of Course exams with the exception of Grade 11 Literacy (you can view Weiner HS and Harrisburg End of Course Exam scores here).
Furthermore, we looked at how each high school performed on the 2012 OEP Awards. Here is what we found:
- Weiner High School was recognized for high achievement in literacy. For example, the school was recognized for the following awards:
- Harrisburg High School was recognized as a “most improved” high school in a few award categories:
- Top 20 most improved high school for End of Course Exam performance in grade 11 literacy.
- Top 5 most improved high school in Northeast AR for End of Course Exam performance in grade 11 literacy.
- Ranked near the top (2nd) of our list of “high poverty” schools with high End of Course Algebra Exam performance.
One issue that may have compounded the Board’s decision was to close a school despite such high achievement; however, it is important to consider the achievement of both schools. In addition, the percentages of the student bodies receiving a free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) is noticeably different at Weiner HS (49%) and Harrisburg HS (79%).
Weiner Elementary (grades K – 6) was not affected by today’s decision; it will remain open.
In the end, the State Board voted to approve Harrisburg School District’s petition to close Weiner High School. This might be an interesting precedent for future potential school closings/annexations when academic performance/school demographics are concerned.
What do you think? Should the State Board of Education have voted to close/annex Weiner High School? Leave us a comment with your thoughts!
Rep. Randy Alexander of Fayetteville filed a bill today (HB1938) to halt the State Board’s ability to “reorganize a school district or a school campus” between January 2013 and April 2015. The bill requires a report on district and school consolidation to be completed, so that the legislature can make an decision informed by the study in the 2015 session. If this bill were to be passed, it would have direct ramifications on the decision today.