University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Outstanding Educational Performance: High Growth Middle Schools

In The View from the OEP on November 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Today’s 2017-18 Outstanding Educational Performance Awards (also known as the OEP Awards) are for High Growth middle schools. These awards are based on student growth on the ACT Aspire exams in Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA). Growth is calculated at the student level, and essentially reflects how much a student has improved his or her score from the prior year compared to what was predicted based on prior achievement history.

OEP Awards are different than other awards because we examine growth specifically by content area.  We do this because we think it is important to examine each subject separately and without including the English Proficiency progress for English Language Learners (which should also be examined separately).

We celebrate the state using this student-level growth model, and are pleased to be able to highlight how students are growing academically in middle schools across the state. We hope that drawing attention to the growth information will spark discussions among stakeholders about how to ensure all schools are growing the knowledge of Arkansas students.

We give OEP Awards based on student growth because we think it is a better reflection of how the school is impacting students rather than proficiency rates. Proficiency rates, even those that move beyond the ‘percent proficient’ like our OEP GPA and Arkansas’ weighted achievement score, are more correlated with student demographics than growth scores. This means that schools are equally as likely to demonstrate high student growth regardless of the characteristics of the students that they serve.

We celebrate two types of schools this year: “High-Growth” and “Beating the Odds”. High Growth schools are those whose students demonstrated the highest growth on the ACT Aspire tests, and “Beating the Odds” are the highest growth schools serving low-income communities.

Highest Growth: Middle Level

The top middle level school for overall student growth is Heber Springs Middle from Herber Springs School District, with a growth score of 86.35. Paragould Junior High from Paragould School District had the highest Math growth with a score of 88.75, while Pleasant View Campus had the highest growth in ELA at 86.65.

The top 20 middle level schools for overall content growth are:

  1. Heber Springs Middle, Heber Springs SD (51% FRL)*
  2. Valley Springs Middle, Valley Springs SD (42% FRL)*
  3. LISA Academy North Middle Charter, LISA Academy (49% FRL)*
  4. Oak Grove Middle, Paragould SD (76% FRL)
  5. Cabot Middle North, Cabot SD (37% FRL)*
  6. Lincoln Junior High, Bentonville SD (26% FRL)*
  7. A. Chaffin Jr. High, Fort Smith SD (42% FRL)*
  8. Cabot Junior High North, Cabot SD (34% FRL)*
  9. Manila Middle, Manila SD (56% FRL)
  10. Paragould Junior High, Paragould SD (71% FRL)*
  11. William Fulbright Junior High, Bentonville SD (18% FRL)*
  12. Swifton Middle, Jackson Co. SD (63% FRL)
  13. Bismarck Middle, Bismarck SD (59% FRL)*
  14. Washington Junior High, Bentonville SD (26% FRL)
  15. Cedarville Middle, Cedarville SD (73% FRL)
  16. Gravette Middle, Gravette SD (48% FRL)
  17. Pleasant View Campus, Mulberry/Pleasant View Bi-County Schools (77% FRL)
  18. LISA Academy, LISA Academy SD (44% FRL)
  19. Helen Tyson Middle, Springdale SD (75% FRL)
  20. Butterfield Trail Middle, Van Buren SD (70% FRL)

We were pleased to see the variety of middle level schools on our list of those demonstrating high student growth. We included the percentage of students in the school who participate in the Free/Reduced Lunch program (due to low household income) to demonstrate why we like to talk about growth! The percentage of students eligible for FRL among these high-growth middle level schools ranges from a low of 18% to a high of 77%, reflecting how growth is possible for all types of schools!

*Schools with an asterisk were also on the top 20 list last year! Half of the schools on our list- demonstrate that high growth can be achieved year after year. These are schools that are consistently growing student’s academic performance more than would be expected. Way to go!

You can find the middle level schools with the greatest student growth by subject and region in the full report.


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

Next week we will share “High Growth” High Schools, and then we will release the list of high growth schools serving high poverty populations, those who are “Beating the Odds!”


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