University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Rewards and Recognition

In AR Legislature, The View from the OEP on December 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Here at the OEP, we love to see schools get recognized for excellence.  Last Friday, the Arkansas Department of Education announced the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program (read the commissioners memo about the program here).

The ADE rankings of schools are posted on the OEP website here and you can look to see how your school fared in the performance and growth/graduation rankings.

Show me the Money!

The program is offering almost $7 million in reward funds to 158 schools (out of 1,037 schools in the state). Education funding is not often allocated at the school-level by the state, and so this program is unique in distributing funding directly to schools, as opposed to the district-level.

Schools receive $100 per student for being in the top 5% of schools in the state and $50 per student for being in the top 6-10% of schools in the state.

Schools can spend the money on:

  • Non-recurring bonuses to faculty and staff,
  • temporary personnel to assist, maintain and improve student performance, or
  • educational equipment or materials.

A school committee including the principal, a teacher elected by the faculty, and a parent representative (as selected by the PTA or another parental involvement group) determine how the school would like to spend the funds, and the proposal must then be approved by the ADE.

There are two categories of rewards: Performance and Growth/ Graduation.

 Performance Rewards:

  • Performance awards are based on student performance on the 2015-16 state assessments in ELA and Math.

There are 51 schools in the top 5% and 52 schools between 6% and 10%:

  • 76 are elementary schools (14% of the state’s elementary schools),
  • 25 are middle and junior high schools (12%of the state’s middle and junior high schools)
  • 2 are high schools (less than 1% of the state’s high schools – only Haas Hall Fayetteville and Bentonville)

Not surprisingly, the schools rewarded for performance are less poor than the state: only 33% of students in the top 5% performance schools and 45% of students in the top 6-10% receive free-and-reduced lunch, while schools that did not receive a performance reward serve 64% FRL population.

Although there is a relationship between student performance and poverty, there isn’t a strong correlation between performance rank and student poverty.  The figure below shows the relationship between each school’s Performance Rank and % FRL.  The schools in the green box are schools identified for performance rewards as they were ranked above the 90th percentile.  On the far left side of the figure, you can see a school with a performance rank of 99 and 0% FRL.  If you look to the right side of the figure, however, you can see that a school with 80% of students eligible for FRL received a performance rank of 95. This school, College Station Elementary from PCSSD, is an example of a school where students are high performing despite academic risk factors.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-11-23-59-am

 

As can be seen in the figure below, the Northwest and Mentral regions have the highest percentages of performance reward schools (48% and 32% respectively).

perf_legend

performance-state

 

 

Growth/ Graduation Rewards:

  • Growth awards are based on school-level growth in student performance from the 2014-15 to the 2015-16 state assessments in ELA and Math.
  • For high schools, this award is based on the ranking on their 2015 graduation rate.

Growth: There are 35 schools in the top 5% and 40 schools between 6% and 10%:

  • 50 are elementary schools (9% of the state’s elementary schools),
  • 25 are middle or junior high school, in addition to a few small high schools (12% of the state’s middle and junior high schools.

Graduation: There are 15 high schools in the top 5% and 15 schools between 6% and 10% (11% of the state’s high schools).  More than half of these schools are 7-12 schools, and the average enrollment is less than 300 students.

We would expect student growth and graduation to be less correlated to student participation in FRL, and it is a little more diverse, but the schools rewarded for growth and graduation  are still less poor than the state: only 36% of students in the top 5% growth/grad schools and 49% of students in the top 6-10% receive free-and-reduced lunch, while schools that did not receive a growth/grad reward serve 63% FRL population.

The figure below shows the relationship between each school’s Growth Rank and % FRL. High schools with graduation rankings are not included in the figure, to allow better examination of the relationship between poverty and growth. The schools in the green box are schools identified for growth rewards as they were ranked above the 90th percentile.  On the far left side of the figure, you can see a school with a performance rank of 98 and 7% FRL.  If you look to the right side of the figure, however, you can see that a school with 92% of students eligible for FRL received a performance rank of 92. This school, Pine Bluff Lighthouse College Prep, is an example of a school where students are demonstrating high academic growth despite academic risk factors.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-11-23-52-am

 

As can be seen in the figure below, the Northwest and Central regions have the highest percentages of growth/graduation reward schools (43% and 33% respectively).

growth-legend

growth-state

Closing Thoughts:

Hooray!   Congratulations to all the schools who received awards!   We love the use of a student-level growth model to reward schools who are making strong gains with their students but may not yet be achieving the highest levels of performance.  We did find it interesting, however, that there was such overlap between the awards: only 1/4 of the schools who received an award for growth did not also receive an award for performance.

Hmmm…We are concerned that the reward money is flowing only to certain areas of the state as almost no schools in the Southwest or Southeast regions of the state received reward money for performance or growth/ graduation.

We hope that schools who didn’t receive a reward this year examine the data to see which schools that are similar to them DID.  In both the performance and growth graphic, we can see that there are schools with similar FRL % ages performing at very different levels.

We would also be interested in seeing how schools are spending the money and what impact that is having on teachers and students.

We hope you and yours enjoy the holiday and stay tuned for more analysis about student performance and growth!


 

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