University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2016: High Achieving Elementary Schools

In The View from the OEP on February 22, 2017 at 3:07 pm

best-2016Here at the OEP  we are excited to celebrate the achievement of the highest-performing schools across the state in our 2015-16 Outstanding Educational Performance Awards (also known as the OEP Awards)!  Each year, we celebrate two types of schools: “High-Achieving” and “Beating the Odds”.  High Achieving schools are those whose students demonstrated the highest performance on the ACT Aspire tests, and “Beating the Odds” are the highest performing schools serving low-income communities.

Today’s awards for High Achieving elementary schools are based on the performance of elementary students on the ACT Math, English Language Arts, and Science assessments.

How are OEP awards different?

There are many lists of “Best Schools”, so why is the OEP’s list special?  It’s simple- we use the most recent assessment data and a methodology that is easy to understand, accounts for students at all performance levels, and doesn’t include self-reported (unverified) data. We have addressed our concerns with the Niche rankings before, Schooldigger uses a modification the old-school % proficient measure, and Greatschools uses assessment data from 2014!

Unlike the state performance awards that were given out a few months ago, OEP awards are grouped by school level (Elementary, Middle, Jr. High and High) and by Region (Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southwest and Southeast).  In addition, we include Science as well as ELA and Math in calculating overall achievement, and report high achieving schools by individual subjects as well.

The OEP calculates a GPA for schools in each subject based on the number of students that performed at each level on the most recent state exams.  Because of changes in the state assessment system, GPAs for 2016 are not directly comparable to prior years. For ACT Aspire performance, students scoring ‘Exceeded Expectations’ are assigned 4 points, those ‘Ready to Learn’ are assigned 3 points, students who are ‘Close to Meeting Expectations’ get 2 , and students ‘In Need of Support’ receive 1 point.  If all students in a school scored at the highest level, Exceeded Expectations, the school would get a 4.0, while if all scored at the lowest level the school would be assigned a GPA of 1.0.

Highest Achievement: Elementary

The top elementary school overall is Vandergriff Elementary from Fayetteville School District, with 83% of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks in all subjects combined.  Vandergriff was also the top performing school in the state in each subject area, with 89% meeting readiness expectations in math, 80% in ELA, and 81% in science.

The top elementary schools for overall achievement are:

1. Vandergriff Elementary (Fayetteville)
2. Forest Park Elementary (Little Rock)
3. Gillett Elementary (Dewitt)*
4. Don Roberts Elementary (Little Rock)
5. (tie) Park Magnet (Hot Springs)
5. (tie) Bellview Elementary (Rogers)
7. Baker Interdistrict Elementary (Pulaski County Special)
8. Bernice Young Elementary (Springdale)
9. Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy (responsive Ed. Soltions)
10. Salem Elementary (Salem)
11. Root Elementary (Fayetteville)
12. John P. Woods Elementary (Fort Smith)
13. Chenal Elementary (Pulaski County Special)
14. (tie) Central Park At Morningstar (Bentonville)
14. (tie) Armorel Elementary (Armorel)
16. Euper Lane Elementary (Fort Smith)
17.Valley View Intermediate (Valley View)
18. Mount Pleasant Elementary (Melbourne)
19. (tie) Hunt Elementary (Springdale)
19. (tie) R.E. Baker Elementary (Bentonville)

We were pleased to see a variety of districts on our list this year and to see schools with more diverse populations having such success. While the majority of these high achieving elementary schools enroll a relatively small percentage of students eligible for the Free/Reduced Lunch program (due to low household income), two of the top five schools serve Free/Reduced Lunch to over half of their students (Gillett is 60% FRL and Park Magnet is 55%).  We are also pleased to note that Hunt Elementary is ranked 19th in the state, and serves a population of students where 29% are identified as Limited English Proficient, compared to 4% LEP in the rest of the top 10 schools.

You can find the top elementary schools by subject and region in the full report.

——Stay tuned to learn about more OEP Award Winners!——

Next week we will share “High Achieving” Middle and Junior High schools, followed by High Schools.  On March 15th we will release the list of high performing school serving high poverty populations, those who are “Beating the Odds!”


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