University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Round Two of the OEP Awards: “Beating the Odds”

In The View from the OEP on September 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

beat the odds

The newest installment of our annual OEP Awards focuses on high-performing “high-poverty” elementary and middle schools in Arkansas that are “beating the odds.” These awards are based on the April 2013 Benchmark exam scores for students in grades 3-8. This report is divided into three main sections. The first and second sections of the report identify the top 25 “high-poverty” elementary and middle schools for Benchmark achievement in math and literacy. The third portion of the report recognizes the top 25 “highest-poverty” elementary and middle schools for Benchmark achievement rates in math and literacy.

For the purpose of this 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 2012-13 school year. A school is classified as “highest-poverty” if 90% of more of the students in the school were FRL-eligible.  In addition to granting awards for overall school performance, we have also acknowledged “high-poverty” schools with high grade-level achievement in math and literacy for grades 3-8.

As for our school classifications, elementary schools are defined as schools which primarily serve grades 3-5, and middle schools are defined as schools which primarily serve grades 6-8. For cases in which these grades overlap, we used enrollment data to determine whether a school served more elementary or middle school students. While these awards are primarily given to elementary and middle schools, some high schools that serve middle school grades are included as well. For a detailed description of the classification of schools, see Appendix B of this report.

The top 25 “high-poverty” elementary and middle schools were recognized based on the GPA of the school in each subject. 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.

The statewide math elementary GPA average is 3.20, and the average of the top 25 “high-poverty” schools is well above that at 3.56.  Two elementary schools on this list stood out. We would like to acknowledge Centerpoint Primary School (Centerpoint) and Eagle Heights Elementary School (Harrison). Both schools are not only among the highest-achieving schools serving low-income student populations but are also among the highest-performing schools in the state! Congratulations to the students and teachers of Centerpoint Primary School and Eagle Heights Elementary School for beating the odds!

As for notable “high-poverty” middle schools in Benchmark math achievement, St. Joe High School (Ozark Mountain) and Nashville Elementary School (Nashville) are not only on the top 25 list of “high-poverty” schools but are also among the highest-performing schools in the state. St. Joe High School also earned a first-place ranking for Benchmark mathematics in the seventh grade category with a GPA of 3.41, well above the overall state math GPA of 3.06. Cheers to the students and teachers at St. Joe High School and Nashville Elementary School for a job well done!

Eastside Elem mural

Three “high-poverty” schools stood out in regards to Benchmark literacy achievement: Norfork Elementary School (Norfork), Eastside Elementary (Rogers), and Umpire High School (Cossatot River). All three schools earned awards in the Top 25 overall elementary or middle school categories, in addition to making the Top 25 literacy list for “high-poverty” schools.  Congratulations to the staff and students of these three schools!

When examining grade-level literacy scores for “high-poverty” schools, Norfork Elementary School (Norfork) ranks in the top five schools for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. We would like to extend an additional round of applause to the students and teachers at Norfork Elementary for truly beating the odds!

Norfork School District

We would also like to recognize high-achieving schools that are classified as “highest-poverty” schools (90% or more FRL).  Eudora Elementary School (Lakeside – Chicot County) and Union Elementary School (Texarkana) both earned awards as the “highest-poverty” elementary schools that scored above the state elementary GPA average in mathematics and literacy.

Finally, we would like to congratulate all of the schools on our High-Achieving “High-Poverty” Schools in Arkansas Based on Performance on the Benchmark Exam lists. Our next installment, High-Achieving Elementary Schools, takes a deeper look at elementary schools and highlights schools by grade levels and regions. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the next installment of OEP Awards!

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