University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

OEP Awards for High-Achieving Schools in Science

In The View from the OEP on September 23, 2015 at 11:03 am

OEP loves to celebrate schools across Arkansas with our Outstanding Educational Performance Awards (also known as the OEP Awards)! While we anticipate the results of the Math and English Language Arts PARCC exams, we are excited to announce the release the first of this year’s OEP awards: High-Achieving Schools in Science

Achievement Award_Science JPEG


We are awarding high-achieving schools for performance on the fifth and seventh grade science Benchmark exams and the Biology End-Of-Course exam. As we have discussed before, science proficiency varies by grade level, with fifth grade students much more likely to be proficient than the other groups. In light of this trend, we decided to divide the report into three sections: Fifth grade high achievers, Seventh grade high achievers, and Biology EOC high achievers. The top 25 performing schools in the state are recognized for each assessment, as well as the 5 highest achieving schools from each region.

The awards are based upon OEP’s GPA measure, as they have been for several years. The OEP calculates a GPA for schools in each subject based on the number of students that perform at each level on the Benchmark exam (advanced is assigned a “4”, proficient a “3”, basic a “2”, and below basic a “1). This provides more information than simple % proficient scores, rewarding schools for students scoring at all performance levels.

Schools represented in the high-achieving lists hail from every region of the state, although the Northwest region stood out with 36 schools represented for high achievement in science. Fifty-seven different districts are represented in the top rankings, and five school districts boast schools ranked in the top 25 on every science assessment:




Springdale and

Valley View.

Congratulations to these five school districts for reaching such high achievement levels in science throughout their systems!

Highest Achieving Schools

The highest achieving school in fifth grade science is Salem Elementary, in Salem School District! At Salem Elementary, 98% of students scored proficient or advanced on the science exam, with a GPA of 3.8. Statewide, only 60% of fifth graders scored proficient or advanced. Congratulations to the students and teachers of Salem Elementary!

The top achievement in seventh grade science goes to Lead Hill High School, which serves students from seventh to twelfth grades. At Lead Hill High, 73% of students scored proficient or advanced on the seventh grade science exam, earning a school GPA of 3.06. Statewide, only 34% of seventh graders scored proficient or advanced. Congratulations to the students and teachers of Lead Hill High!

The top achievement in Biology EOC is awarded to one High School and one Junior High. Biology EOC awards present a unique challenge because the assessment is taken by students at different grade levels, so we present two! The highest performing High School was Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, where 95% of students scored proficient or advanced on the Biology EOC exams, earning a school GPA of 3.62. The highest performing Junior High was Ramay Junior High in Fayetteville Public Schools, where 96% of students scored proficient or advanced and earned a school GPA of 3.42.   Statewide, only 47% of students scored proficient or advanced on the Biology EOC exam. Congratulations to the students and teachers of Haas Hall and Ramay Junior High!

Sometimes awards for high-achieving schools are criticized for rewarding schools for the demographics of their students (schools serving fewer at-risk students receive the awards).  We are pleased to report, however, that many of our high-achieving science awards are to schools with substantial populations of students on Free/Reduced Lunch.  For example, Lead Hill has 72%,  Salem Elementary reports 65%, and Ramay Junior High has 55% of students participating in FRLP.   In our next release, we will award Arkansas schools that are “beating the odds”in science–that is, schools that are high achieving in science while serving high percentages of low-income students. Following that, we will highlight schools that are Most Improved in science.

As data from the PARCC assessments in English Language Arts and math become available, we will award schools for performance in those subjects as well. Until then, congratulations to all the high-achieving schools highlighted in the science awards!

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