University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

OEP Awards: Most Improved Schools – Benchmark Exam Growth 2007-2013

In The View from the OEP on November 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

Since August of this year, we have been releasing bi-weekly installments of the OEP Awards, which recognize the top-performing schools on the spring 2013 administration of the Arkansas Benchmark Exam.

This week’s installment, Most Improved Schools – Benchmark Exam Growth 2007-2013, mark the second year that the OEP has released awards measuring 5 years of schools’ growth. We calculate growth using a baseline metric created by averaging school-level benchmark scores from the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years and an outcome metric created by averaging school-level benchmark scores from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. We also have released the 5-year growth database on which the awards are based. This database is explained further in a previous blog post. Click here to see the awards: Most Improved Schools – Benchmark Exam Growth 2007-2013.


TrustyToday we salute Trusty Elementary in the Fort Smith Public School District, which serves approximately 354 students from K-6th grade, with 96% of students receiving free and reduced lunch (2012-2013).  Trusty Elementary placed near the top of both of our Elementary awards, which are given for the highest statewide growth in mathematics and literacy. Trusty Elementary placed second in Most Improved Elementary Schools Based on Benchmark Mathematics Achievement, with a GPA growth of +0.94 from 2007-2013. In addition to Trusty’s growth in math, the school also placed fourth in literacy growth, with GPA growth of +1.00. Trusty Elementary is no stranger to the OEP Awards, as it claimed awards in both of these categories in 2012 as well. Congratulations to Principal Shantelle Edwards, Superintendent Benny L. Gooden and all the teachers, staff and students at Trusty Elementary on this amazing achievement!



In the middle school category, we highlight Omaha High School (Omaha School District) as the only middle school to place in the top 20 schools for both mathematics and literacy growth. Omaha High School serves 7-12th graders in rural northwest Arkansas and 69% of its students receive free and reduced lunch. Omaha placed 4th in math growth, with a jump from 37% to 76%. In literacy, Omaha High experienced a GPA growth of +0.59, from 52% of students proficient/advanced to 86%. Congratulations are in order for Superintendent Jerry Parrett, Principal Jay Chalk, teachers, staff and students at Omaha High School on this remarkable achievement.

Of course, MANY more schools have achieved remarkable growth on the math and literacy benchmark exams. You can see if your school is among those recognized by clicking here and reading the OEP Awards for Most Improved Schools in Arkansas, 2007-2013.

One final note: We want to address a statistical phenomenon that may be keeping the highest-performing schools from getting a spot on this installment of the OEP Awards. This phenomenon, called the “ceiling effect,” occurs when an individual score on a test is achieved near the top of the scale (say, a 92 out of a possible 100) thus decreasing the probability of earning a higher score because at the top of the scale, there is less room to go, so it is harder to distinguish varying degrees of ability. However, we work to recognize schools based on growth as best as possible. Therefore, in this installment of the OEP Awards, our lists feature schools with the greatest levels of growth based on the GPA measure. Higher growth scores on this measure suggest that schools are not just being recognized for moving more students to “above proficiency,” but are moving more students from Below Basic to Basic and/or Proficient to Advanced.

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