LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Just like students, public schools across the state are being graded on performance and how effective they are at teaching our children.
Arkansas Education Secretary Dr. Jacob Oliva sat down in front of the House and Senate Education Committees Monday to discuss the school’s report cards.
Despite the dozens of schools that received D’s or F’s, Oliva said he feels the state is moving in the right direction, and he is going to continue investing heavily into seeing letter grades go up.
He added that when he came to Arkansas earlier this year, each superintendent he spoke with asked him his thoughts on letter grades.
“I told every single one of them that I feel very strongly about them,” Oliva said. “It helps the community know how schools are doing, it helps inform parents.”
Each school was graded from an A to an F based on their performance from the 2022-2023 school year.
The majority of schools remained the same when it comes to letter grades compared to their last report card, while approximately 14% improved, and a similar number went down a letter grade.
Grading is also based on federal requirements, Oliva noted, though he did point to an argument many superintendents have made.
“What I did hear from a lot of the superintendents is they may not have a lot of confidence that the current letter grade system reflects the learning happening in schools,” he said.
Dr. Charles McNulty with the Pulaski County Special School District appears to be in that category of superintendents, and he said that he is looking forward to the new assessment in the future that looks more at standard teaching in the classroom.
“I’d love to see opportunities to look at why some of our schools didn’t move more in this last round,” McNulty said.
Two schools in PCSSD received A’s. Three received B’s, 11 received C’s, 9 received D’s, and one received an F.
“I want to talk about value added growth,” Dr. McNulty said. “65% of our schools had above state average value-added growth and I think that’s really important to know that our teachers are really moving kids.”
According to the Arkansas Department of Education, the value added growth model determines: How much did a student grow this year compared to how much we thought he/she would grow based on what we know about his/her achievement in prior years.
McNulty said there is at least one school in his district that should have moved up more based on this growth, but it did not according to the letter grade scale.
He said this could be an error on either side, but he emphasized that it is important to look at other aspects of growth, partially for this reason.
To see how each public school graded, click here.