University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

OEP Awards for High Schools: 2021

In The View from the OEP on November 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

This week, OEP is pleased to recognize High Schools demonstrating Outstanding Educational Performance. OEP awards are different than other awards because we focus solely on student academic growth. Unlike other indicators of school performance, academic growth is not very correlated with school demographics. This means it is reflective of what students are learning in school, not what challenges they may face due to out if school factors. 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. 

Today’s OEP awards for High Growth High schools are based on the growth of students in schools categorized as High Schools on the ACT Aspire Math and English Language Arts assessments.

Highest Overall Growth: High School Level

The top high school for overall student growth is Arkansas Consolidated High in Harrisburg from the Division Of Youth Services School System, with an overall growth score of 86.65. Arkansas Consolidated High in Harrisburg also had the highest growth in ELA at 89.09. Arkansas Consolidated High in Dermott took the top spot for growth in math at 93.62.


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

  • Arkansas Consolidated High in Harrisburg, DYS (100% FRL)
  • Haas Hall Bentonville, Haas Hall Academy (2% FRL)***
  • Marmaduke High, Marmaduke SD (44% FRL)*
  • Danville High, Danville SD (77% FRL)***
  • Kingston High, Jasper SD (67% FRL)*
  • Haas Hall Academy at the Lane, Haas Hall Academy (9% FRL)**
  • Arkansas Consolidated High in Demott, DYS (100% FRL)
  • Haas Hall Jones Center, Haas Hall Academy (12% FRL)
  • Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy High, Responsive Ed. Solutions (5% FRL)*
  • Horatio High, Horatio SD (77% FRL)
  • Jasper High, Jasper SD (67% FRL)
  • Bradley High, Emerson-Taylor-Bradley SD (44% FRL)
  • Dardanelle High, Dardanelle SD (64% FRL)
  • Greenwood Freshman Center, Greenwood SD (32% FRL)*
  • Arkansas School for the Blind HS, Arkansas School for the Blind (39% FRL)
  • Malvern High, Malvern SD (64% FRL)
  • Haas Hall Academy, Haas Hall Academy (6% FRL)***
  • Quitman High, Quitman SD (49% FRL)*
  • eStem High, eStem Public Charter School (45% FRL)*
  • Concord High, Concord SD (64% FRL)*

*Asterisks indicate schools that have been in the top 20 for overall growth in prior years.

Four of these top 20 schools have been on our list every year since 2017, and eleven have been our top 20 list at least once before, demonstrating that high growth can be achieved year after year.  We also like how five 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!

It is important to note that very few students were assessed in some of the Top 20 schools, so the growth score is reflective of the performance of just a few students. In prior years, we limited our awards to those with at least 20 students, but this year we felt that it was important to recognize the achievement of these very small schools! Especially since, as shown in Figure 1, there is essentially no correlation between the number of students assessed and growth values (R= 0.5).

Figure 1: 2021 Math Growth Score and Number of Students Assessed

Four of these top 20 schools have been on our list every year since 2017, and eleven have been our top 20 list at least once before, demonstrating that high growth can be achieved year after year.  We also like how five 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! Similar 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, indicating enrollment of students from lower income families. The proportion of students eligible for FRL among these high-growth schools ranges from a low of 2% to a high of 100%, reflecting that students can demonstrate high growth in all types of schools! As shown in Figure 1, high school academic growth is not very correlated with school poverty rates (R= -0.3).

Figure 2: 2021 Growth Score and % FRL, High School Level Schools

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

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education recently released performance data for all public schools in the state.  We created a statewide data visualization for you to explore the relationships between school poverty, academic growth, weighted achievement, and school quality.

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.

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

Next week we will release the list of high growth schools serving high poverty populations, those who are “Beating the Odds!”

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