University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

High School Awards: Outstanding Educational Performance

In The View from the OEP on October 30, 2019 at 11:20 am


This week, OEP recognizes high schools demonstrating Outstanding Educational Performance. OEP awards are different than other awards because we focus solely on student academic growth.

Earlier this month, 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 we discussed previously when awarding elementary and middle schools, the overall score on which the letter grades are based, are strongly correlated with the percentage of students in the school who are participating in the Free/Reduced Lunch program (an indicator of low-income). For High Schools, as illustrated in Figure 1, we find that the negative correlation is even slightly lower than it was for elementary and middle schools (R= -0.66), likely dure to the inclusion of the graduation rate in the ESSA Index.

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



Figure 2 overlays the High School letter grade categories on top of Figure 1 to further illustrate the relationship between letter grades and high school poverty rates.

Figure 2: 2019 ESSA Score Index and % FRL, High 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.  The relationship between the percentage of students in a school that are eligible for FRL and the students’ academic growth is presented in Figure 3.  At the high school level, these values are even less correlated with demographics than they were at the elementary and middle level (R=-0.29). 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, High Schools

Growth FRL HS

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, which 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 High schools are based on the growth of students on the ACT Aspire Math and English Language Arts assessments in high school level schools.

Highest Growth: High School Level

The top High school for overall student growth is LISA Academy North High Charter School in Sherwood with a growth score of 86.0.  Haas Hall at the Lane in Rogers had the highest Math growth with a score of 88.6, while Shirley High obtained the highest growth score in ELA at 83.1.

The 20 High Schools with the highest overall content growth are:

1.   LISA Academy North High Charter, LISA Academy (55% FRL)**
2.   Calico Rock High, Calico Rock SD (63% FRL)
3.   Haas Hall Academy Bentonville, Haas Hall Bentonville (1% FRL)**
4.   Haas Hall Academy At the Lane, Haas Hall Academy (10% FRL)*
5.   Haas Hall Academy, Haas Hall Academy (6% FRL)**
6.   Haas Hall Academy Jones Center, Haas Hall Academy (16% FRL)*
7.   Danville High, Danville SD (64% FRL)**
8.   Greenbrier Junior High, Greenbrier SD (34% FRL)**
9.   Pottsville High, Pottsville SD (32% FRL)
10. Bismarck High, Bismarck SD (55% FRL)*
11. Eureka Springs High, Eureka Springs SD (46% FRL)**
12. Quitman High, Quitman SD (45% FRL)
13. Concord High, Concord SD (60% FRL)*
14. Kingston High, Jasper SD (45% FRL)
15. Conway Junior High High, Conway SD (45% FRL)
16. Rural Special High, Rural Special SD (62% FRL)*
17. Murfreesboro High, Murfreesboro SD(64% FRL)
18. Flippin High, Flippin SD (69% FRL)
19. Southside Charter High, Southside (Independence) SD (53% FRL)**
19. Hazen High,Hazen SD (70% FRL)*
19. Marmaduke High, Marmaduke SD (60% FRL)

Like we saw with the elementary and middle awards, more than half of the high 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 seven schools with two asterisks were included in the top 20 list for the last two years, while

*the nine schools with a single asterisk were on the list one of the last two years.

We also like how nearly half of the high 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 high 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 1% to a high of 70%, reflecting that students can demonstrate high growth in all types of high schools!

You can find the high schools with the greatest student growth by subject and region in the full report.  You can also download the datafile to check out the growth ranking for all middle schools.

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

You can check out the elementary and middle level winners here, and soon we will  release the list of high-growth schools serving high poverty populations, those who are “Beating the Odds!”

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