University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Outstanding Educational Performance Awards: High Achieving High Schools

In The View from the OEP on March 8, 2017 at 11:28 am

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 high schools are based on the performance of students on the ACT Aspire Math, English Language Arts, and Science assessments. These assessments were taken by students in grades 3-10.

Highest Achievement: High School

Again this year, the top high school overall is Haas Hall Academy, a public charter school in Fayetteville with 91% of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks in all subjects combined. Haas Hall Academy Bentonville was a close second, with 90% of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks in all subjects combined.

Haas Hall Academy ranked first in the state in every subject tested: math, ELA and science.

The top high schools for overall achievement are:

1. Haas Hall Academy (Haas Hall Academy)
2. Haas Hall Academy Bentonville (Haas Hall Bentonville)
3. Rogers New Technology High (Rogers)
4. Valley View High (Valley View)
5. Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy High (Responsive Ed Solutions)
6. Greenwood High (Greenwood)
7. (tie) Taylor High (Emerson-Taylor-Bradley)
7. (tie) Mt. Vernon/Enola High (Mt. Vernon/Enola)
7. (tie) Arkansas Arts Academy High (Arkansas Arts Academy)
10. Greenbrier High (Greenbrier)
11. (tie) Norfork High (Norfork)
11. (tie) Lisa Academy North High Charter (Lisa Academy)
13. Concord High (Concord)
14. Bentonville High (Bentonville)
15. Timbo High (Mountain View)
16. Emerson High (Emerson-Taylor-Bradley)
17. (tie) Magnet Cove High (Magnet Cove)
17. (tie) Bismarck High (Bismarck)
19. (tie) Salem High (Salem)
19. (tie) McCrory High (McCrory)

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

Half of the high schools are new to the top 20 list this year!  Like the high-achieving elementary, middle, and junior high schools, most of the schools high-achieving high schools serve smaller a student population that is less economically disadvantaged than their peers across the state.

Haas Hall campuses do not serve lunch to their students, so do not report the percentage of students that are eligible for the National Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL) program which provides meals to students of low-income families. Excluding these two campuses, the group of overall high-achieving  high schools serve a population where 33% of students participate in FRL, compared to a statewide high school average of 61%.

Some of this year’s overall high-achieving high schools, however, serve a population where over half of their students are eligible for FRL. We want to highlight these high-achieving schools and their student populations:

#7 Mt Vernon/Enola High: 50% FRL
#3 Rogers New Tech High: 51% FRL
#19 McCrory High: 58% FRL
#19 Salem High: 62% FRL
#17 Bismark High: 63% FRL
#13 Concord High: 64% FRL
#15 Timbo High: 81% FRL
#11 Norfork High: 82% FRL

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

Next week, we will release “Beating the Odds” awards for schools like those mentioned above who are serving a high percentage of students from low-income communities that are nevertheless reaching high levels of achievement.  We will release these awards for elementary, middle, junior high and high schools on March 15th.

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

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!

OEP Awards are different from the US News Best High Schools in several ways:

  • OEP uses the most recent assessment data available, while US News is a year behind,
  • OEP includes all subject areas: US News doesn’t include science performance,
  • OEP Awards are only for high schools in Arkansas,
  • OEP and US News both use a weighted performance method, but US News now factors in school FRL rates to determine if a school is performing ‘better than expected’ given the student population,
  • OEP reports high-achievers by Region (Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southwest and Southeast) and high achieving schools by individual subjects, and
  • OEP limits our analysis to overall performance on state assessments, and does not consider the performance of disadvantaged student subgroups or the degree to which high schools prepare students for college by offering a college-level curriculum.

More information about the US News Best High Schools determination can be found in our blog post.

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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