University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Outstanding Educational Performance Awards: High Achieving Middle and Junior High Schools

In The View from the OEP on March 1, 2017 at 10:56 am


Here 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 middle and junior high schools are based on the performance of students on the ACT Math, English Language Arts, and Science assessments.

Highest Achievement: Middle School

The top middle school overall is Bright Field Middle from Bentonville School District, with 75% of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks in all subjects combined.

Bright Field ranked first in the state in science achievement, placed second behind McNair Middle (Fayetteville) in ELA, and second behind Pottsville Middle (Pottsville) in math.

The top middle schools for overall achievement are:

1. Bright Field Middle (Bentonville)
2. McNair Middle (Fayetteville)
3. Harrison Middle (Harrison)
4. East Hills Middle (Greenwood)
5. Pottsville Middle Grade (Pottsville)
6. Greenbrier Middle (Greenbrier)
7. (tie) Bethel Middle (Bryant)
7. (tie) Ruth Barker Middle (Bentonville)
9. Lisa Academy (Lisa Academy)
10. Bergman Middle (Bergman)
11. Nemo Vista Middle (Nemo Vista)
12. Benton Middle (Benton)
13. Hellstern Middle (Springdale)
14. (tie) Valley Springs Middle (Valley Springs)
14. (tie) Old High Middle (Bentonville)
14. (tie) Kirksey Middle (Rogers)
17. (tie) Cabot Middle South (Cabot)
17. (tie) Ruth Doyle Middle (Conway)
17. (tie) Ardis Ann Middle (Bentonville)
17. (tie) Gravette Middle (Gravette)

Highest Achievement: Junior High School

The top junior high school overall is  J. William Fulbright Jr. High from Bentonville School District, with 69% of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks in all subjects combined.

J. William Fulbright Jr. High ranked first in the state in science performance, was second behind Valley View Jr. High (Valley View) in ELA, and third behind Ahlf Jr. High (Searcy) and Woodland Jr. High (Fayetteville) in math.

The top junior highs for overall achievement are:

1. J. William Fulbright Jr. High (Bentonville)
2. Valley View Jr. High (Valley View)
3.Woodland Jr. High (Fayetteville)
4. Ahlf Jr. High (Searcy)
5. L. A. Chaffin Jr. High (Fort Smith)
6. Lincoln Jr. High (Bentonville)
7. Greenwood Jr. High (Greenwood)
8. Greenbrier Jr. High (Greenbrier)
9. Washington Jr. High (Bentonville)
10. Harrison Jr. High (Harrison)
11. Benton Jr. High (Benton)
12. (tie) Clinton Jr. High (Clinton)
12. (tie) Ramay Jr. High (Fayetteville)
14. (tie) Pottsville Jr. High (Pottsville)
14. (tie) Central Jr. High (Springdale)
16. Buffalo Island Central Jr. High (Buffalo Is. Central)
17. Vilonia Middle (Vilonia)
18. (tie) Cabot Jr. High North (Cabot)
18. (tie) Pocahontas Jr. High (Pocahontas)
20. (tie) Cabot Jr. High South (Cabot)
20. (tie) Brookland Jr. High (Brookland)

You can find the top middle and junior high schools by subject and region in the full report.

Similar to the elementary awards, many of these high achieving middle and junior high schools enroll a relatively low percentage of students eligible for the Free/Reduced Lunch program and have been OEP High-Achievers before. Overall, in the high-achieving middle and junior high schools only 38% of students eligible are for FRL and only 5% are identified as English Language Learners.

Some of this year’s overall high-achieving schools, however, serve Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL) to over 50% of their students and enroll a relatively high percentage of English Language Learners (ELL). We want to highlight these high-achieving schools and their student populations:

Middle schools: Bergman MS is 59% FRL, Nemo Vista MS is 63% FRL, Kirksey MS is 60% FRL and 42% ELL, and Hellstern MS is 50% FRL and 28% ELL.

Junior high schools:  Ahlf JH is 51% FRL, Clinton JH is 71% FRL, Ramay JH is 53% FRL and 11% ELL, Central JH is 51% FRL and 28% ELL, Buffalo Is. Central is 56% FRL and 13% ELL, and Pocahontas JH is 55% FRL).

We celebrate all the high-achieving middle and junior high schools recognized with OEP awards today!

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

Next week we will share “High Achieving” High Schools.

Because the relationship between students’ background characteristics and academic achievement is well-known and persistent, OEP created a separate set of awards, the “Beating the Odds” awards, for schools serving a high percentage of students from low-income communities that are nevertheless reaching high levels of achievement.  We will release these awards on March 15th.

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.

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