University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Is your elementary school getting Outstanding Educational Performance?

In The View from the OEP on October 16, 2019 at 11:32 am

This week, OEP is pleased to recognize elementary schools demonstrating Outstanding Educational Performance. OEP awards are different than other awards because we focus solely on student academic growth.

Last week, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education released school letter grades for public schools in the state.  We created a statewide data visualization for you to explore the relationships between letter grades, school poverty, and academic growth.

We think school letter grades can be helpful in communicating with stakeholders about school performance, but are concerned that Arkansas’ letter grades send the wrong message because they are driven primarily by student achievement, which is generally reflective of the demographics of the students in the school.  As shown in Figure 1, the overall score on which the letter grades are based, are strongly correlated (R=-0.71) with the percentage of students in the school who are participating in the Free/Reduced Lunch program (an indicator of low-income). Figure 2 overlays the elementary letter grade categories on top of Figure 1 to further illustrate the relationship between letter grades and school poverty rates.

Figure 1: 2019 ESSA Score Index and % FRL, Elementary Schools


Figure 2: 2019 ESSA Score Index and % FRL, Elementary Schools with Letter Grade Overlay


Here at OEP, we choose to highlight student academic growth because we believe that it is the best reflection of the impact that a school is having on students’ academic success.  As shown in Figure 3, academic growth, is not very correlated with school demographics (R=-0.37), and improvement in growth scores is positively correlated with improved academic achievement at the school level (R=+0.66), so a good indicator of improvement overall.

Figure 3: 2019 Growth Score and % FRL, Elementary SchoolsGrowth FRL

For OEP awards, we use the purest measure of academic growth (referred to as Combined Content Growth Score) which includes growth for Math and English Language Arts only.  We chose this growth value, that excludes English Learner Progress because, on average, including the ELP progress slightly depresses the growth score for schools. We give OEP awards for high growth overall as well as for Math and ELA growth individually.  We recognize the highest growth schools by school level (elementary, middle and high) and by region of the state.

Today’s awards for High Growth Elementary schools are based on the growth of elementary students on the ACT Aspire Math and English Language Arts assessments.

Highest Growth: Elementary Level

The top elementary school for overall student growth is City Heights Elementary from Van Buren School District, with a growth score of 90.21. Stagecoach Elementary from Cabot School District had the highest Math growth with a score of 91.59, while City Heights Elementary also obtained the highest growth score in ELA at 89.97.

The 20 elementary schools with the highest overall content growth are:

1.   City Heights Elementary, Van Buren SD (52% FRL)**
2.   Ward Central Elementary, Cabot SD (58% FRL)
3.   Pottsville Elementary, Pottsville SD (48% FRL)
4.   Carolyn Lewis Elementary, Conway SD (53% FRL)
5.   Salem Elementary, Salem SD (67% FRL)**
6.   Stagecoach Elementary, Cabot SD (39% FRL)
6.   Weiner Elementary, Harrisburg SD (68% FRL)
8.   Center Valley Elementary, Russelville SD (51% FRL)*
9.   Oscar Hamilton Elementary, Foreman SD (71% FRL)**
10. Greenbrier Wooster Elementary, Greenbrier SD (42% FRL)**
11. Westside Elementary, Cabot SD (62% FRL)
12. Cross County Elementary Tech Academy, Cross County SD (73% FRL)*
12. Greenbrier Springhill Elementary, Greenbrier SD (43% FRL)**
12. Bernice Young Elementary, Springdale SD (27% FRL)*
15. Walker Elementary, Springdale SD (54% FRL)
16. Lamar Elementary, Lamar SD (72% FRL)
17. Chenal Elementary, Pulaski County Special SD (23% FRL)
18. Hunt Elementary, Springdale SD (46% FRL)**
19. Des Arc Elementary, Des Arc SD (75% FRL)*
20. Frank Tillery Elementary, Rogers SD (70% FRL)
20. Jefferson Elementary, Little Rock SD (28% FRL)

Here at OEP we like that half of the elementary schools on our top 20 list demonstrate that high growth can be achieved year after year.  Asterisks indicate schools that have been in the top 20 for growth in prior years. The six schools with two asterisks were included in the top 20 list for the last two years, while the four schools with a single asterisk were on the list one of the last two years.  We also like how half of the schools on the list are newcomers- showing that growth scores can change over time. These schools, and others included in the full report, are growing student’s academic performance more than would be expected. Way to go!

Similarly to last year’s list, a variety of schools have shown high growth when observed through the lens of the percentage of students served Free/Reduced Lunch. The proportion of students eligible for FRL among these high-growth schools ranges from a low of 27% to a high of 75%, reflecting that students can demonstrate high growth in all types of schools!

You can find the elementary schools with the greatest student growth by subject and region in the full report.  You can check out the growth ranking of all elementary schools in the downloadable datafile.

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

Next week we will share “High Growth” Middle level schools, followed by 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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