University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Beating the Odds: High Achieving schools serving Low-Income Populations

In The View from the OEP on March 15, 2017 at 11:04 am

BTO 2016We are so excited to release our “Beating the Odds” Outstanding Educational Performance Awards!  These special OEP awards are for schools whose students are achieving at a high level despite serving a population where at least 66% of the students participate in the Free/ Reduced Lunch Program, which is based on low household income.  While poverty can negatively impact student success, the schools awarded today demonstrate that their students are “Beating the Odds.”  The highlights are below, and you can read the full report here.

Elementary Schools

The top elementary school beating the odds overall is Salem Elementary from Salem School District.  Despite serving a student population that is 69% eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch,  75% of students Met or Exceeded Expectations on the ACT Aspire. Salem Elementary was also among OEP’s top 10 for elementary schools throughout the state, regardless of student demographics, demonstrating that achievement is not always tied to demographics. The top 10 elementary schools that are beating the odds are:

1. Salem Elementary (Salem)
2. Clinton Elementary (Clinton)
3. (tie) Bismarck Elementary (Bismarck)
3. (tie) Forest Heights STEM Academy (Little Rock)
5. Nemo Vista Elementary (Nemo Vista)
6. (tie) College Station Elementary (Pulaski County Special)
6. (tie) Amanda Gist Elementary (Cotter)
8. (tie) Eagle heights Elementary (Harrison)
8. (tie) Des Arc Elementary (Des Arc)
10. Eastside Elementary (Rogers)

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

Middle Schools

Clinton Intermediate from Clinton School District is the top middle school beating the odds overall. Clinton Intermediate serves a student population where of students are 77% eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch, and 61% of students Met or Exceeded Expectations on the ACT Aspire. The top 10 middle schools that are beating the odds are:

1. Clinton Intermediate (Clinton)
2. Atkins Middle (Atkins)
3. Leslie Intermediate (Searcy County)
4. Mena Middle (Mena)
5. Mountain View Middle (Mountain View)
6. (tie) DeQueen Middle (DeQueen)
6. (tie) Lingle Middle (Rogers)
8. (tie) Southside Middle (Southside (Independence))
8. (tie) Oakdale Middle (Rogers)
9. Cave City Middle (Cave City)

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

Junior High

Clinton Jr. High was the top junior high beating the odds.  Despite serving a student population that is 69% eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch,  56% of students Met or Exceeded Expectations on the ACT Aspire. Clinton Jr. High ranked first among high-poverty junior high schools in every subject area, and is also among OEP’s top 20 high achieving junior high schools throughout the state.  Given the  regardless of student demographics, demonstrating that achievement is not always tied to demographics. The top 10 junior high schools that are beating the odds are:

1. Clinton Jr. High (Clinton)
2. DeQueen  Jr. High  (DeQueen)
3. Southwest  Jr. High (Springdale)
4. Morrilton  Jr. High (South Conway County)
5. (tie) Clarksville  Jr. High (Clarksville)
5. (tie) Nashville  Jr. High (Nashville)
7. Nettleton Jr. High (Nettleton)
8. Malvern Middle (Malvern)
9. Trumann Intermediate 7-8 (Trumann)
10. Magnolia Jr. High (Magnolia)

You can find the top BTO junior high schools by subject in the full report.

High School

The top high school beating the odds is Norfork High in Norfork.  Despite serving a student population that is 82% eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch,  53% of students Met or Exceeded Expectations on the ACT Aspire. Norfork High ranked first among high-poverty high schools in math and science, and is also among OEP’s top 20 high achieving high schools throughout the state.  Norfork High students are demonstrating that they can achieve at levels similar to students who come from higher income communities. The top 10 high schools that are beating the odds are:

1. Norfork High (Norfork) 
2. Timbo High  (Mountain View)
3. Des Arc High (Des Arc)
4. County Line High (County Line)
5. Oark High (Jasper)
6. (tie) Omaha High (Omaha)
6. (tie) Bradley High (Emerson-Taylor-Bradley)
8. Cave City High (Cave City)
9. Hoxie High (Hoxie)
10. Gosnell High (Gosnell)

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

Congratulations to all the OEP “Beating the Odds” award winners!  Keep up the great work and we look forward to recognizing you again next year!

 


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.

OEP Awards for high schools 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.

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