Local superintendents respond to state report card

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Carroll County schools received their annual report card early this year.

According to a press release from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), the 2018 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Index and Accountability At-A-Glance reports, which include data from the 2017-18 school year and the 2018 ACT Aspire results, were issued on Oct. 12.

The release says the school performance data was previously released in April following the administration of the statewide assessment. In response to stakeholder feedback, it says ADE worked diligently to shorten the timeline for the data release to allow schools to use the latest information to make data-drive decisions to impact student learning this school year.

“As we seek to lead the nation in student-focused education, it is essential that our educators, parents and community members have timely data and information that will help drive their education decisions,” ADE Commissioner Johnny Key said. “We listened to our stakeholders and are pleased to release this important information sooner than we ever have before. I am extremely proud of the ADE team for valuing the input from our stakeholders and for working hard to make the data available six months earlier.”

Berryville

The Berryville School District received a C for its elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools. The middle school dropped from a B in April’s assessment to a C. Superintendent Owen Powell said the scores are not where the district would like them to be.

“Obviously, we would like for all of our schools to be at an A or B,” he said. “There is room for improvement. I think we’re doing things that will help raise our scores.”

One example, Powell said, is how the administrators are working to address chronic absenteeism.

“Students can’t learn if they’re not here,” he said.

Receiving the scores in October instead of April, he said, will help the district address areas needing improvement faster.

“The quicker we receive the information the quicker we can dissect it,” Powell said, “and find our strengths and weaknesses. Then we can work on addressing those weaknesses.”

Eureka Springs

The Eureka Springs School District’s scores held steady this year, with the middle and high schools receiving an A and the elementary school receiving a C. Superintendent Bryan Pruitt said he is proud of the district’s scores.

“I know there’s always room for improvement,” Pruitt said. “I think our elementary is really diving in deep with a new curriculum from the American Reading Company. We think that’s going to be beneficial. Everyone is working diligently to tackle that and to try to improve those scores.”

He continued, “When I went through and looked on the data at our elementary, we’re right below the state average, and we’re close to getting that B. I’m confident that next year we’re going to move that score up.”

Pruitt said the elementary’s score is a combination of several factors.

“We really looked hard at that and tried to make some adjustments,” he said. “We would love to have all three have A’s. I’m positive we’ll raise that elementary score.”

He said the elementary has been going through an adjustment period because the exams are all online now.

“Sometimes keyboarding skills aren’t where they need to be in second grade,” he said, “and being able to navigate those tests is challenging. We’ve got to make sure our kids are prepared. This will be their third year to take that test, so we’re getting more comfortable now.”

Pruitt continued, “For a while, we were jumping around from one test to another. I think we’re going to get there. We want to be the best, and to be the best we’ve got to set our goals and work hard.”

He said he is also proud of the middle and high schools’ efforts to maintain their high scores.

“To not just get an A last year but to maintain it again is really something special,” he said. “It shows we have great students who are working hard and staff who are preparing them. I’m really proud and excited for our kids and their futures.”

Pruitt said getting this data back in October will help the district.

“I think it will be really good for us,” he said. “This new data that’s been released shows the number of our kids in third grade, for example, who were ready or exceeding and then the number of our kids who need support. It gives us the opportunity to go in there and say ‘We know half of these kids have got to work hard, and we’ve got to work harder to get them prepared.’ ”

Green Forest

The Green Forest School District received a C for its middle and high schools, and the elementary school dropped from an A in April’s assessment to a B.

“We’re always in the constant search for improvement,” Superintendent Matt Summers said. “That can be an uphill narrow winding road. Obviously, we’ve changed to the ACT Aspire testing, which is a little bit different. We’re still learning areas we can look to in order to improve scores for our students.”

He continued, “We would love to have scores that are higher, but I can’t say I’m disappointed either.”

Summers said he knows the district is always in the process of finding the best practices for its students.

“Best practices are something that takes whatever the content is at any grade level and gets that to our students,” he said. “At this time, we’re revamping all of our curriculum maps from K-12. Many of our administrators’ personal growth plans are just that: curriculum improvement.”

Summers said they are focusing on protecting classroom time.

“We’re guarding class time and educational time because there are so many distractions out there as well,” he said.

He said receiving the data from the state earlier in the year should help the district.

“I think the sooner you get it, the better. Information is power,” Summers said. “Can we go in and change the middle or high school class schedules in October? No, we can’t. But there are decisions along the way that can benefit instruction and teachers’ best practices and effectiveness. That’s what we try to do with that information.”

He concluded, “You can’t make a wholesale change midyear. When you get information in April, you’re always planning for the next year, so I think that’s the big thing. This allows us to react a little bit faster.”

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