University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Posts Tagged ‘OEP Weekly Links (OWL)’

Ed Links

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on May 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

News Around the Natural State

District Touts Tuition Pledge: More in First Arkadelphia Promise Class Going to College

A record number of seniors at Arkadelphia High School will attend college next year, according to numbers gathered by the Arkadelphia Promise foundation. The class of 2011 is the first class to receive the benefit of the Arkadelphia Promise scholarship, which pledges to pay for tuition and fees for qualifying seniors. Of the graduating class, 120 have committed to colleges in Arkansas and around the country, compared with 88 students from the 2010 graduating class. The high school surveys graduating students but does not track them through the college-attendance process.

Judge Releases State from Obligation to Pay Desegregation Aid

U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller stunned parties in the 28-year-old Pulaski County school desegregation lawsuit by releasing the state from its obligation to pay for desegregation efforts in the three school systems – except for the majority-to-minority inter-district student-transfer program. The judge ordered the end to the bulk of extra state aid to the districts – which totals nearly $70 million a year – in a 110-page, sharply worded order in which he found the North Little Rock School District to be unitary, or in substantial compliance with its desegregation plan, in eight of nine areas. District staffing was the exception.

Little Rock School District attorneys Chris Heller and Clay Fendley issued a response to this ruling telling Judge Miller that the state’s largest school district and its students will be irreparably harmed without a stay of Miller’s order that relieved the state from paying much of the desegregation aid it has been paying for two decades.

News from Around the Nation

Joplin Schools Chief: We Will Rebuild

The Joplin school district will be ready for school to start again on Aug. 17, despite the destruction of four schools and uncertainty about the fate of some staff and students following a devastating tornado, superintendent C.J. Huff declared. Six other buildings were damaged, and the cost estimates are as high as $100 million, he said.

US House Education Committee Votes to Scrap More Than 40 Education Programs

The House education committee took a first step toward piecemeal reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—by voting to slash over 40 programs from the U.S. Department of Education. The measure, which was approved on a party-line vote of 23-16, would get rid of programs that the committee sees as duplicative or not the right role for the federal government. The bill is the first in a series of smaller, more targeted bills, which the House committee says it will consider instead of a broader ESEA reauthorization measure. Click here to read the list of programs that could potentially be cut.

State Legislatures Notch Major K-12 Policy Changes

This legislative season now finished or wrapping up in many states has brought big changes to education policy, some forged through bipartisan compromise, others only after hyper partisan battles. Republican leaders who swept into office last fall—when the GOP won a majority of governorships and took control of both legislative chambers in 25 states—wasted no time pushing through ambitious and often controversial education agendas. Their hardest-fought victories include the passage of laws that curb teachers’ collective bargaining rights and tie educators’ tenure, advancement, and pay to their performance, including their ability to improve student test scores.

2011 Summer Leadership Institute

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on May 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

For the past several weeks in our “Mark Your Calendar” section, we have featured a “Save The Date” announcement for the 2011 Summer Leadership Institute sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas being held on June 10, 2011. The theme for this year’s institute is “Closing the Achievement Gap” and features Keynote Speaker Joseph F. Murphy, PhD, who is the Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Education and Associate Dean at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.

We are also happy to announce that the OEP will be presenting during one of the afternoon breakout sessions on a project titled: Spotlights on Success: Schools Beating the Odds in Arkansas. The presentation will highlight our recent study examining gaps on the statewide achievement scores between each of the following categories: high- and low-poverty, Caucasian and minority, urban and rural, large and small. Even if some gaps aren’t big, as is likely with large and small schools, these schools are still different enough to justify examining them separately. Additionally, the schools beating the odds in the following three categories will be examined: 1) Low-poverty schools beating the odds; 2) Schools closing the achievement gap: race; and 3) Schools closing the achievement gap: poverty, to round out a full consideration of what counts as “beating the odds”. Just because a school isn’t poor doesn’t mean it can’t “beat the odds”; such a school simply has to perform much better than similar schools. Click here for more information on the presentation.

We feel that these schools should be commended. Each of the above categories represents a different type of school with a unique set of strengths and needs. Examining strategies for success in each of these types of schools should provide better information for all educators. More information on the 2011 Summer Leadership Institute can be found here. You can also register online for the Institute. We hope to see you in June!

Ed News Links

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 28, 2011 at 11:50 am

Turning to upcoming national laws, our UA colleague Sandra Stotsky wrote a piece outlining Ten Steps to a Better ESEA which highlights her views on how we can  re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (more commonly known as No Child Left Behind Act) so that it “might actually upgrade k-12 education.” Do you have your own ideas regarding how we should change the ESEA?

On a final note, our thoughts this week are with our friends and colleagues who have been affected by the recent damaging storms and flooding that has recently impacted the state and region. We hope you stay safe and that your recovery is swift.

News from Around the Natural State

Plan for North Little Rock School Facilities Gets Yes

The North Little Rock School Board approved a $261 million, five-year facilities plan with some uncertainty over how the district will fund the proposal. The board will determine by June if it will ask voters in the fall or spring to approve a 7.4 mill school property-tax increase that will be necessary to fund the proposal. The district’s current rate is 40.9 mills. The approval would set into place five years of construction that would update, close, or redirect nearly every building in the district.

Studies: State Desegregation Aid Being Used for “Other Purposes”

Over the past five years, the Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock school districts used millions of state-provided desegregation dollars for other purposes, including general-operating expenses, according to financial studies commissioned by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office. The Attorney General’s office released findings from the studies done by Navigant, a New York-based company contracted for $250,000 last year to determine, in part, how state desegregation funds are spent in the three Pulaski County school districts. Navigant is also analyzing desegregation spending done by the Little Rock School District, which receives more than half of the annual state desegregation aid going to the three Pulaski County districts. No date has been set for the release of that Little Rock report.

Click here to read the Navigant Report on PCCSD

Click here to read the Navigant Report on North Little Rock

News from Around the Nation

Teacher-Evaluation Logistics Challenge States

In the coming months, more states—especially those that won grants through the $4 billion federal Race to the Top initiative—are expected to put out requests for proposals for such details as overhauls to the data systems that store student and teacher information; the provision of “value added” analyses of teacher performance; and the reporting and professional development that help teachers and principals use the information from the systems. In sum, states and districts must construct integrated systems for teacher-performance management—no small challenge in a field in which few good examples exist. “States and districts are going to need considerable amounts of technical expertise,” said Brian M. Stecher, the associate director of RAND Education at the Santa Monica-based RAND Corp., a nonprofit policy-research organization.

State GOP Lawmakers Push to Expand Vouchers

Republican governors and lawmakers are pushing for a major expansion of voucher programs that in some cases seek to give taxpayer money for private school tuition to a much larger swath of the population, including middle-income families. Many of those legislative endeavors come as no surprise, given that GOP candidates for state office made historic gains across the country last fall, in many instances after promising to expand school choice—a longtime priority for many Republicans.

Don’t forget, you can always keep up with more education news on the In the News section of our website.

Site Seeing

Interactive Map: Adults with College Degrees in the United States by County

While the primary source for these data is the U.S. Census Bureau, this interactive map makes use of historical Census data provided by the Minnesota Population Center’s National Historical Geographic Information System.

Mark Your Calendar

April 29 (TOMORROW!): Arkansas Association of Curriculum and Instruction Administrators Conference, Hot Springs Convention Center

May 4-6: Arkansas Association of Federal Coordinators (AAFC) Conference, Hot Springs Convention Center

May 11: School Law Conferences sponsored by the AAEA and APSRC (two, one-day drive-in conferences) Click here for more info!

May 16: State Board of Education Meeting, 9:00 AM, Arch Ford Building, State Capitol Complex

May 17: Joint House and Senate Education Committee Meeting, TBA

In the News…Ed News, that is

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 22, 2011 at 7:38 am

Statewide, the ADE has released the Arkansas School Performance Report. The purpose of the report is to generally improve public school accountability, provide benchmarks for measuring school improvement, and to empower parents and guardians of children enrolled in Arkansas public Schools by providing them with the information to judge the quality of their schools. The ADE School Performance Report contains individual school performance reports, district-level performance reports, and a statewide performance report that, in conjunction with the 2010 OEP Report Card, can provide the reader with a very comprehensive look at statewide educational performance in Arkansas.

In national education news, the United States Congress passed a spending bill that would finance federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, through September 30th. In this bill, $700 million was allocated to the federal Race to the Top initiative where states (not districts) compete for grant money for education. So far, the U.S. Department of Education is keeping mum regarding how the Race to the Top competition will work this year, but the folks at Education Week have already begin speculating.

News from Around the Natural State

Little Rock School District Recommended for Accreditation After Study

The Little Rock School District is being recommended for accreditation by the international AdvancED accrediting organization after a three-day study of the district, its schools and leadership by a team of educators from both in and outside of the state. This is the first time the district has sought system wide accreditation, although individual schools in the district have long been accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. The accreditation team reviewed district-generated documents, visited 36 classrooms in 10 schools and interviewed 76 administrators, 115 teachers, 18 support staff members, 73 parents and community members, 75 students and six of the seven school board members this week to prepare an oral report to the school board. A written report will be delivered in 30 days.

School Projects’ Funding Wins OK

A new high school campus for ninth-graders in Cabot and new elementary schools in Conway, Bryant, Springdale and Rogers are among 219 school construction projects approved for $188.7 million in Arkansas Academic Facilities Partnership Program funds. The Commission for Arkansas Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation approved potential construction projects for 2011-13 that include 14 new schools, 67 school building additions, 63 roof replacements and 33 new heating and air-conditioning systems on campuses across the state.

Four State School Districts got Wrong Test-Prep Materials

At least four Arkansas school districts, including the large districts of Cabot and Bentonville, received from a test vendor the wrong materials to prepare kindergartners for this month’s Iowa Test of Basic Skills. As a result, Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell must decide whether the reading comprehension section of the nationally standardized test will be scored. Besides the Bentonville and Cabot districts, the Atkins and Bearden districts also obtained and used the wrong preparation materials, and there may be other districts that did so as well.

UPDATE: We posted this story from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, but were informed shortly thereafter from our friends in the Bentonville School District that:

“Bentonville was not sent anything ‘wrong.’ We gave our K-2 students the appropriate ITBS as a formative assessment in November, 2010. Our Riverside representative recommended that we use level 5 for K, level 6, for 1st, and level 8 for 2nd.  The state-mandated ITBS administered earlier this month differed in that level 6 was given to K, level 7 to 1st, and level 8, again, to 2nd. We were well aware that the levels  were different and felt that no mistake was made here.”

Thanks for the clarification, Bentonville!

News from Around the Nation

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Signs Collective Bargaining Restrictions Into Law

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is pushing an ambitious education agenda this year, has signed a measure that restricts teachers’ collective bargaining ability. The new Indiana law, of course, comes in the wake of similar laws approved in Ohio and Wisconsin, which drew protests in the streets and at state capitols. Those two states’ laws face challenges at the ballot box, and in the courts. The Indiana law limits bargaining between school corporations and teachers’ unions to salary and wage-related benefits. According to Daniels’ office, two provisions take effect immediately: Teacher contracts cannot extend past the budget biennium, and districts cannot collectively bargain teacher evaluation procedures or criteria—a provision that a number of school advocacy groups critical of teachers’ unions have sought.

Study: 8th Graders Learn More with Direct Instruction

A University of Munich study has finally tackled the long-running debate on which teaching approach performs best in the classrooms. After comparing the relative merits of “the sage on the stage” and “guide on the side” styles, study authors Guido Schwerdt and Amelie Wuppermann found that direct instruction was superior to discussion and problem solving in improving student achievement. The Munich researchers drew their data from the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMMS) which tested a nationally representative sample of U.S. 8th graders in science and math. In addition, the survey asked teachers to indicate the percentage of class time they spent direct-teaching, versus the time students spent problem solving with and without assistance. According to TIMMS, teachers reported spending nearly twice as much classroom time on problem solving than direct instruction. For more information, check out the EducationNext coverage of this story here.

Mark Your Calendar

May 11: School Law Conferences sponsored by the AAEA and APSRC (two, one-day drive-in conferences) Click here for more info!

May 16: State Board of Education Meeting, 9:00 AM, Arch Ford Building, State Capitol Complex

May 17: Joint House and Senate Education Committee Meeting, TBA

April 14, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 14, 2011 at 7:40 am

Charter School’s Expansion Rejected

The LISA Academy charter school in west Little Rock cannot add elementary grades to its middle and high school program. The Arkansas Board of Education decided voted 6-2 against the expansion plan after raising concerns about below-par achievement levels of black and low-income students in high school math. LISA leaders asked the state board for permission to expand the sixth- to 12th-grade campus to include fourth- and fifth-grades and to increase the student enrollment cap from 600 to 800. But the high school program at LISA is on “alert” status right now because black students and students from low-income families have failed, on a three-year average, to meet the state’s minimum achievement requirements on End of Course exams in algebra I and geometry.

Two School Districts Classified as Fiscally Distressed

The state Board of Education voted to classify the Dermott and West Side Cleburne County school districts as fiscally distressed because of declining fund balances. The Dermott School District had an unrestricted fund balance of more than $1 million as recently as the 2008-09 school year, but that balance has dwindled to $14,947. Declining enrollment has led to a reduction in the district’s funding. Additionally, the West Side Cleburne County School District had an unrestricted fund balance of $3 million in 2007-08, $2.1 million in 2008-09 and $909,103 in 2009-10. Its current balance is $633,359. Neither school appealed the classification but West Side Superintendent Steve Lucas did inform the board the district has a plan for turning its finances around.

The Knowledge Is Power Program: Preparing Youth for College Success

Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) Inc., an independent research firm, gave two presentations this week at the Annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in New Orleans based on its ongoing evaluation of KIPP Middle Schools. The two presentations focused on student characteristics and attrition at KIPP and on student achievement benefits of the KIPP schools. The papers suggest that KIPP schools are doing quite well.  In short, MPR reported that KIPP students on average experienced academic impacts that were “positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial.” Regarding student characteristics and attrition, the authors reported that the prior achievement levels of KIPP students and attrition rates of KIPP schools were nearly identical to those in the surrounding area.

The full report is available online, and additional information has been reported in this article by Education Week.

NAEP Study Finds Jump in Students Taking Tough Courses

Students who take more rigorous courses in high school are more likely to perform well on achievement tests, according to a National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) study released showing more students are doing just that. The 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study reveals that the percentage of high school graduates completing a “rigorous” curriculum, with higher-level mathematics and science curricula, jumped from 5 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2009. Those who took a “midlevel” curriculum increased from 26 percent to 46 percent in the same period. In addition, the study found a link between students’ enrollment in challenging classes and their higher scores on the math and science NAEP in 12th grade. Because it is difficult to classify the rigor of English classes, compared with progression in science and math, the study did not look at the possible connection between English curriculum and NAEP reading scores.

Unions Move In at Chicago Charter Schools, and Resistance Is Swift

Teachers at 12 of Chicago’s charters have formed unions over the past two years, and the Chicago Teachers Union is seeking to organize all 85 of the schools.  This is a unique trend as compared to other charter schools across the country.

April 15: University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform Lecture: Rick Hess, 12:00 PM, Graduate Education Building Room 343

April 15: Registration Deadline for Decision Making for Results: Data-Driven Decision Making/Data Teams sponsored by the Center for Applied Studies in Education, University of Arkansas, Little Rock

April 15: Issues in Transition to Pension Reform Conference sponsored by the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Click here to register

Save the Date

June 10, 2011: 2011 Summer Leadership Institute sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas; 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM, Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center

Conference Theme: Closing the Achievement Gap

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Joseph Murphy, Associate Dean at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University

Click here for more information and to Register for the Leadership Institute

April 7, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

This week, we are proud to release the OEP’s 2010 Report Card.Released annually; the Report Card highlights the condition of Arkansas education in several areas of interest to parents, educators, and policymakers. In past years (click here to see last year’s report card), we’ve examined not only test scores, but also such topics as graduation rates, school accountability, and teacher pay. This year, we update some areas we’ve examined previously and introduce a few new topics. We highlight the most recent state benchmark results, as well as updating results for end-of-course exams and state ACT results.

New to this year’s Report Card, we examine achievement gaps between various subgroups on the reading portion of the NAEP, levels of educational attainment for Arkansans as a whole, patterns of education spending for Arkansas and surrounding areas, and changes in the demographics of Arkansas students over the last ten-plus years.

News from Around the Natural State

State Switching to New Graduation Rate System

Arkansas is moving to a new system for calculating high school graduation rates that will require better tracking of students, as well as reporting students by race, ethnicity, family income and special needs. The more rigorous graduation-rate calculations will play a greater role in determining whether high schools are identified by the state as needing improvement. Arkansas will get a first look at the new calculations for its schools and school districts when the “preliminary” rates appear on the 2010 Arkansas School Performance Report that is soon to be posted on the state Department of Education website.

Anti-Consolidation Bill Fails by One Vote

A bill that would end mandatory school consolidation based solely on student population failed by one vote in the House. House Bill 2010 by Rep. Jon Hubbard, R-Jonesboro, failed in a 50-33 vote. The bill would change the state’s school consolidation law, which dictates mandatory consolidation or annexation of a district that has fewer than 350 students for two straight years. Act 60 of 2003, which includes this provision on school consolidation, was adopted as part of wide-ranging school reforms in response to a court order declaring the state’s public school funding system unconstitutional. Hubbard’s bill would shield districts that fall below the consolidation threshold if they are academically, fiscally and structurally sound.

10 Students from Arkansas Awarded Merit Scholarships

Ten Arkansas high school seniors are among 700 students nationally who have won National Achievement Scholarships for scholastically talented black students. The $2,500 individual awards are financed by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. More than 160,000 students entered the 2011 National Achievement Scholarship Program by requesting consideration when they took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as high school juniors. The Arkansas students, their high schools, and their probable fields of study are:

Keiara L. Turner, Forrest City High School, accounting.

Destiny L. Hemphill, Conway High, education (African/African American studies).

Autumn L. Henderson, Forrest City High, law.

Johannah C. Walker, Fort Smith Southside High, physical therapy.

Miriam L. Pearsall, Little Rock Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High, chemical engineering.

Taylor D. Stevens, Little Rock Central High, industrial engineering.

Nicole A. Barnes, Marion High, accounting.

Sheridan M. McKisick of Sherwood, Little Rock Hall High,international relations.

Cicely A. Shannon of Texarkana, AR, and a student at Texas High School in Texarkana, biology/English.

Dustin L. Walter of West Memphis, Marion High, medicine.


April Fool’s Day

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Happy April! This week, there has been little fooling around as we’ve been busy preparing for next week’s release of the OEP’s 2010 Report Card. Released annually, the Report Card highlights the condition of Arkansas education in several areas of interest to parents, educators, and policymakers. In past years (click here to see last year’s report card), we’ve examined not only test scores, but also such topics as graduation rates, school accountability, and teacher pay. This year, we update some areas we’ve examined previously and introduce a few new topics. We highlight the most recent state benchmark results, as well as updating results for end-of-course exams and state ACT results. New to this year’s Report Card, we examine achievement gaps between various subgroups on the reading portion of the NAEP, levels of educational attainment for Arkansans as a whole, patterns of education spending for Arkansas and surrounding areas, and changes in the demographics of Arkansas students over the last ten-plus years.

Stay tuned early next week for our release of the OEP 2010 Report Card. We hope you will find it informative and useful. Have a great weekend!

News from Around the Natural State

School funding Stalemate Averted

Gov. Mike Beebe and legislators reached an agreement to avert a potential House-Senate stalemate over school funding. The House and Senate passed different versions of legislation setting minimum state aid to school districts. Beebe supports the House version, House Bill 1921, which calls for a 2 percent across-the-board increase in per-student funding for next fiscal year. The Senate version, SB 821, provides slightly less of an increase in per-student funding and allocates additional funding for districts with high transportation costs. However, the governor also said that anything less than full 2 percent for every district would be unconstitutional and could lead to a reopening of litigation against the state.

Rogers Schools Offer Buyouts, to Shed 89 Workers Before Fall

The Rogers School District is losing 89 teachers, administrators and other employees before the start of next school year, the result of a one-time buyout program. An estimated 180 employees are expected to take a buyout, saving the district an estimated $4.47 million over eight years. Under the buyout program, teachers and other certified employees with at least five years in the district and 10 years in the state retirement system were eligible for a $40,000 buyout. Classified employees were eligible for a buyout equal to their salary up to $15,000.


March 16, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on March 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

The weather is changing (and it was a gorgeous weekend here in Northwest, Arkansas) and spring break is just around the corner. Have you solidified your plans yet? Speaking of spring break, since next week is our spring break and school will not be in session, the OWL will not be flying into your email inboxes. But we will be back the following week (hopefully with a nice tan).

This week we are releasing a policy brief titled “Act 35, New School Performance Ratings, and School Choice.” We are releasing this brief to assist and inform those following the education legislation before the Arkansas General Assembly – several bills of which are directly related to this issue. In the brief, we outline the school performance ratings established by Act 35 and discuss the guidelines shaping this new rating system. We also describe how these ratings are related to the Arkansas Opportunity Public School Choice Act (AOPSCA), a component of Act 35, which mandates that students in schools receiving the lowest performance rating for two years in a row be given the opportunity to transfer out of the low-performing school if they so choose. Finally, we offer some estimates of school performance ratings for all schools in the state based on data available from the Arkansas Department of Education in the 2009-2010 academic year. Click here to read more!!

Lastly, stay tuned to the OEP blog for a post this week which will highlight the events from the March 14th State Board of Education meeting which resulted in the approval for eSTEM public charter schools increasing the enrollment cap at their elementary school by 102 students and the revoking of the Urban Collegiate Public Charter School (UCPC) charter.

Also, don’t forget to check out our other news from around the state and nation…


OEP Weekly Links: March 10th 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on March 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

We hope your week has been treating you well. It’s been a busy few weeks for the OEP as we continue to cover the Legislative Session in Little Rock. This week, we are releasing a new policy brief on extended learning opportunities among low-income students. The brief was developed in response to a bill before the Senate Education Committee (SB267) that would allow schools in year 1 (or higher) of school improvement to elect to increase their school year to 200 days. The extended school year would be a mechanism to increase achievement levels of students in these schools, thus removing the school from the School Improvement list. One of the justifications for an extended school day is the need to extend educational opportunities to needy students. We explore this issue in our brief and conclude that extended school days and years may constitute an effective strategy to enhance the educational performance of economically disadvantaged students. Click here to read more!

January 26, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on January 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm

“Every young person listening tonight who is contemplating their career choice, if you want to make a difference in the life of our Nation…if you want to make a difference in the life of a child…become a teacher. Your country needs you.”  – President Barack Obama during the State of the Union Address, January 25, 2011.

“The book provides material that can be used to teach ethics in teacher-preparation programs and administrator-certification programs in Arkansas. It’s in these gray areas that we can have the richest discussion with a class.” – Dr. John Pijanowski on his new book Professional Responsibility for Educators and the Arkansas Code of Ethics

From the OEP

Happy mid-week to you! Earlier this month, Education Week released its 15th annual Qreport.  Since 1997, Education Week has been releasing yearly report cards for each state and the nation as a whole.  These report cards attempt to measure educational progress and success in several areas as well as assign an overall letter grade to each state. Each year, the OEP breaks down the grades given to Arkansas in each measured category. Today we are releasing our first policy brief for the year, Quality Counts 2011 analyzing Arkansas’ performance in six areas: K-12 Achievement, Chances for Success, School Finance, the Teaching Profession, Transitions and Alignment, and Standards, Assessments, and Accountability. Some of the interesting findings include:

  • Arkansas’ grades in the 2011 Quality Counts report put the state in 6th place nationally.  This is due mostly to high grades for its education policies compared to other states, while it still lags the country in student performance on national assessment.
  • Since Quality Counts began its current grading format in 2008, Arkansas has persistently ranked higher in measures of academic achievement than on demographic measures, which are included by Education Week in their Chance for Success measure.
  • Arkansas 4th and 8th graders have made exceptional progress in math since 2003 compared to other states, but have not seen gains in reading. However, over the same period the achievement gap between rich and poor has gotten worse in Arkansas even though it has improved nationally.

To read more about the grades Arkansas received in Education Week’s Quality Counts report, click here!!

News from Around the Natural State

UA-Fayetteville Professor Writes Ethics Guidebook for Arkansas Educators

When clear-cut ethical violations occur such as a teacher drinking alcohol on school grounds or a coach having an inappropriate relationship with a student, the results are usually in the newspaper and on local television. However, educators deal with less newsworthy ethical dilemmas every day when trying to decide what is best for students, said John Pijanowski, the University of Arkansas professor who has co-written a book to help educators who often find themselves confronted with decision-making in gray areas.

Deer-Mount Judea School District Suit Dismissal Sought

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a rural Northwest Arkansas school district trying to prevent further consolidation. McDaniel’s 46-page response addressed issues raised in the lawsuit filed Dec. 3 in Pulaski County Circuit Court by the Deer-Mount Judea School District. Transportation is central to the argument presented by the district, which has to bus children over some of the state’s roughest terrain.

News from Around the Nation

Proficiency Eludes U.S. Students on Science NAEP

Most American students are not performing at a level deemed “proficient” in science, results issued for a revamped national assessment show, with 12th graders posting the weakest scores compared with their elementary and middle-level peers. Only one in five high school seniors scored at least proficient on the exam. Meanwhile, 34 percent of 4th graders and 30 percent of 8th graders were deemed proficient or better in science on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as “the nation’s report card.”

Deer-Mt. Judea School District Suit Dismissal Sought

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a rural Northwest Arkansas school district trying to prevent further consolidation. McDaniel’s 46-page response addressed issues raised in the lawsuit filed Dec. 3 in Pulaski County Circuit Court by the Deer-Mount Judea School District. Transportation is central to the argument presented by the district, which has to bus children over some of the state’s roughest terrain.