About one-third of Arkansas’ 1,055 public schools received letter D or F grades for the 2021-22 school year based on multiple factors, including ACT Aspire exam results given last spring.

A total of 32% of schools – around 338 – receive D and F compared to 19% of schools in 2019, the last year the state applied letter grades to campuses prior to the global covid-19 pandemic. halted education in Arkansas and across the nation starting March 2020.

At the other end of the grading spectrum, the number of Arkansas schools that receive a grade of A with the first letter is 85, or 8% of the total. 8% is half of the 16% who received the A grade in 2019.

The percentage of schools receiving B grades has increased from 30% in 2019 to 20% this year.

Meanwhile, C-class schools have increased from 35% in 2019 to 40% in 2022.

The Arkansas Board of Education, Arkansas Department of Education staff, and the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act Steering Committee plan to present a public report at 1pm today from the Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative by Plumerville on the votes of the letters of 2022 and on Every Student Succeeds Act scores on which the votes are calculated.

The event is open to the public and will be available in live streaming on https://youtu.be/nLd8dPUCZ_4.

The Every Student Succeeds Act scores and letter grades were posted Tuesday on the Department of Education’s My School Info website at the statewide “Reports” link.

That link is https://bit.ly/3G04jqJ.

The message was advertised by the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Office for Education Policy, which put together its own school-by-school data spreadsheet.

This information is available here: https://bit.ly/3fNhbFY.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to hold schools and school districts accountable for student achievement.

In Arkansas, each school receives an “ESSA Index Score” made up of ACT Aspire test results provided by grades three through 10 each spring.

Student attendance, the percentage of students reading at the class level and scientific achievement are also included in the ESSA score calculation. At the high school level, graduation rates, enrollment in advanced courses, and community service are also factors in calculating the ESSA score.

Kimberly Mundell, spokesperson for the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, said letter grades are not the “be it all and get it all” of the accountability system, that there is a lot of student data to be pulled into the system.

Sarah McKenzie, executive director of the Office for Education Policy, noted the drop in high school grades in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. In Arkansas, schools were closed to in-person education in March 2020 until the end of the school year. Schools reopened for on-site education starting in August 2020, although around 20% of students participated in online learning from home for at least part of the 2020-21 school year.

“The pandemic shock to student achievement offers a good opportunity to think about how ESSA scores and associated letter grades are awarded and whether they indicate quality the way we would like it to be,” McKenzie said.

While McKenzie said she is a proponent of A-to-F grades for schools because they are easy for the general public to understand, she said changes to the existing system are needed.

He suggested that schools be given two grades: one based on performance and the other based on improvement, or growth, on performance.

As things stand, a school’s performance level outstrips year-over-year improvement in student achievement, McKenzie said, including through signs of achievement growth that a school is doing a good job with its students.

McKenzie highlighted Little Rock E-Stem Charter Middle School for achieving the highest level of growth in the state, but only for receiving a C grade.

It’s not that the school isn’t doing a good job, McKenzie said, but it’s serving a disproportionately larger population of students from low-income families who may not have all the resources for their children that more affluent families have for. their school. aged children.

Among the schools receiving D and F in the state are 20 F and five D applied to schools in the Little Rock School District. Six schools in the capital system received A and B and another six received C.

Superintendent Jermall Wright said Tuesday evening that the district will host a press conference at 11:30 am today to respond to ESSA scores and letter votes.

“We are and will undergo a lot of changes in the LRSD to affect school performance and district effectiveness,” Wright said Tuesday evening.

The district school board in recent months has approved plans for after-school mentoring, for the restructuring of its alternative learning programs to improve graduation rates, and has provided teachers with higher salaries and retention payments as a way to retain and recruit. teachers.

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