Arkansas’ New School ‘Grades’ Cause Concerns Among Educators
The new Arkansas Index Scores for Public Schools in the state released last week offer a wide swath of concerns and criticism among educators.
And these scores should, I repeat, should cause an alarm for the tax-paying and concerned public about the future of Arkansas’ kids.
Are our public schools in Arkansas moving forward?
Now before the debate begins, there are two big, really big, things to move out of the way.
Yes, Haas Hall Academy (both facilities in Washington and Benton County) were given an “A” rating — the top rating in the state. Both are open-enrollment charter schools that can draw students from across district boundaries.
Several of the charter schools — even the ones in the public schools of the area in Northwest Arkansas — did better than some of the non-charter schools. A real charter school and private academies do not take all students. A public school charter may be select in its testing scores and not test all its students for a grade in these standings. Public schools, however, take on all students regardless of their ability to speak and understand English, those with physical and mental disabilities, and students who do not have an ability to pay. And all the grades of these students are found in these rankings of public schools.
Now with the big distinction of private academies and charter schools out of the way, there is some concern for the ranking of schools in our area to discuss.
The only school district in Arkansas with “straight A’s” for its elementary, middle, junior high and high school — was Greenbrier School District in Faulkner County. How that district managed the four elementary schools, the middle school, junior high and high school to the “A” level is something every school district in Benton and Washington County (and the other 73 counties in Arkansas) should be asking themselves.
Closer to home, the grades are mixed:
The Farmington School District received a “B” for the public charter high school, called the Farmington Career Academies. Also a “B” grade for George R. Ledbetter Elementary, Randall G. Lynch Elementary and Jerry “Pop” Williams Elementary campuses. The “C” went to Bob Folsom Elementary School and the Farmington Freshman Academy.
In Elkins, the high school received a “B” while the other schools were all rated “C” levels.
At Lincoln, the three schools, including the Lincoln New Technical High School, all received “C’s”
Over in Prairie Grove, the high school and middle schools both received a “B”; Prairie Grove Elementary Schools, a “C.”
In Greenland; the high school, middle and elementary schools all received a “C.”
At the West Fork School District, the middle school received a “B” while the elementary school and high schools rated a “C.”
In Benton County: In Siloam Springs School District, only the Siloam Springs Intermediate School (grades 5-6) received a “B.” Every other school, including the Siloam Springs High School Conversion Center, received a “C.” The grading scale showed the Northside Elementary School; Southside Elementary; Delbert “Pete” and Pat Allen Elementary and the Siloam Springs Middle School all received “C” grades.
In the Gentry School District, there was one “C” from the Gentry High School Conversion Center, the Gentry Primary, Middle and Intermediate Schools all received a “B” grade rating.
At Gravette, The Gravette Middle School received an “A.” The rest of the District’s schools, the high school, upper elementary and the Glenn Duffy Elementary, all received “C’s.”
In Decatur, the news was worse. The Decatur Middle and Decatur High School were both rated with “D’s.” The Decatur Elementary, grades K-5, rated a “C.”
As predicted, more schools south of Interstate 40 received lower letter grades. The state’s largest newspaper printed each of the more than 1,000 public school grades in a Sunday edition on April 15th.
The results were dismal, disappointing and less than the tax-paying Arkansan needs to receive for their ardent support of the state’s public school systems.
So what can Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislature do to fix these low grades?
All of Arkansas is watching.