University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

The 2013-2014 OEP Awards: A Well-Deserved Round of Applause for…

In The View from the OEP on September 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

A new school year has arrived, opening a new season of our annual OEP Awards, which highlight high-performing schools in Arkansas. Today, we are releasing the  first installment of the OEP Awards, High-Achieving “Overall” Schools in Arkansas.  These awards are based on the April 2013 Benchmark exam scores for students in grades 3-8. They are given primarily to elementary and middle schools, but the list also includes some high schools that serve middle school grades. The report is divided into three sections (Benchmark achievement in mathematics, literacy, and a combination of the two), and within each section the top 25 elementary and middle schools are recognized.  Additionally, we have included information regarding the region in which each school is located, the grades served at the school, and the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels in 2013.

The main component used to designate the top 25 elementary and middle schools in each section is the GPA of the school. The OEP calculates a GPA for each school on the basis of the percentage of students that perform at a particular level on the Benchmark exam (advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic). You can read more about our GPA measure here.

Of the “Top 25 Elementary Schools in Arkansas Based on Benchmark Math Achievement,” sixteen schools won OEP Awards last year in the same category.  Additionally, the Northwest region stood out this year, with 12 schools on this list. One school that was new to the “Top 25 List” was Eagle Heights Elementary School in the Harrison School District, with 89% of its students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels on the mathematics Benchmark exam. Despite having a relatively high number of economically disadvantaged students (67% of Eagle Height’s student population receives free or reduced lunch), Eagle Heights Elementary earned a 3.70 math Benchmark performance GPA. Congratulations to the students and teachers of Eagle Heights Elementary!


There are 11 newcomers to the “Top 25 Elementary Schools in Arkansas Based on Benchmark Literacy Achievement” list. Among them, Ellen Smith Elementary School in the Conway School District boasts a GPA of 3.73 and 95% of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels, being ranked 5th in literacy achievement among elementary schools in Arkansas. We congratulate the students of Ellen Smith Elementary School, Principal DeLanna Lacy, and her staff for earning such a high GPA as newcomers to the list!

Among middle schools in this category, there were 16 repeats from last year’s honors.  However, there were quite a few new schools on the list this year. We would particularly like to congratulate Umpire High School in the Cossatot River School District. One hundred percent of Umpire’s students scored proficient or advanced on the literacy Benchmark exam.  This school also earned a 3.53 literacy Benchmark performance GPA, which is quite impressive due to the percentage of economically disadvantaged students at the school. (One hundred percent of students at Umpire High School receive free or reduced lunch.) We extend resounding congratulations to the students and staff of Umpire High School for their school’s success!

Cossatot Visitor Center Pano_l

The Cossatot State Park Visitor Center. Located about 9 miles form Umpire, the Cossatot State Park is one of many state parks that are in driving distance of Umpire High School.

We would like to applaud Forest Heights Elementary School in the Harrison School District for earning a spot on the Top 25 Elementary Schools in Arkansas Based on Benchmark Math and Literacy Achievement.  A newcomer to 4da6321024370.imagethis list, Forest Heights earned an overall GPA of 3.74.  Additionally, Forest Heights was on the “Top 25” lists for mathematics and literacy. Way to go for making the “Top 25” lists for literacy and for mathematics and literacy combined!

Over the next several weeks, we will be presenting additional lists of high-achieving schools in Arkansas as the 2013 installment of our OEP Awards continues.  Our next award category, “Beating the Odds,” will congratulate excellent schools serving low-income communities.  Stay tuned for this next installment, and, until then, we extend one more round of applause to all of the high performing elementary and middle schools in Arkansas!

Click here to read the full report!

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