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The Little Rock School District's Community Advisory Board on Thursday previewed the draft "ESSA index scores" for Hall High and Cloverdale and Henderson middle schools which all have a long history of poor academic achievement.

The Arkansas Department of Education developed the school scoring system -- which takes into account academic growth, school quality and, if applicable, graduation rates, as well as achievement on state exams -- in response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

Advisory board members heard about the school scores at a meeting in which Superintendent Mike Poore announced that he will release a video statement today about the district's ongoing efforts in regard to student safety and school security. That will include addressing concerns about opioid overdoses as well as announcing plans for a survey of parents and others for ideas on improving student and staff well-being.

The video presentation, which will be placed on the district's website and put out on the district's social media accounts, is in response to the Feb. 14 shooting deaths of 17 students and staff members at a Parkland, Fla., high school and to ongoing state and local concerns about school safety, Poore said.

The five-member Community Advisory Board is a liaison organization between residents of the Little Rock School District and the Arkansas Department of Education in the school system that is in its fourth year of state control and without an elected school board. The state took over the district in January 2015 because six of the district's 48 schools at the time, including the three campuses reviewed Thursday, had been classified as academically distressed.

The Arkansas Department of Education has made draft school index scores available to schools and districts in anticipation of releasing final scores based on 2016-17 school year data this spring, probably in mid-April.

The actual base-line year for the scoring will be this 2017-18 school year, including the state-mandated Aspire tests that will be given to students within the next several weeks.

The index scores from the 2017-18 school year will be used to identify schools that need targeted and comprehensive levels of support from their districts that will, in turn, be supported by the state agency.

Poore was complimentary of the new rating system, saying that it has the potential to "empower" school faculties.

"The buildings are getting information that they have never received before," Poore said about the data. "It also provides the academic growth metrics that educators forever have sought. That honors the fact that you have a kid who is behind and you help bring him up by more than an academic year's worth of growth year. He may still be behind but you brought him up. That has a huge impact. And at the high school, they have a bundle of things that can impact the score."

Cloverdale's draft index score is 58.52 and Henderson's is 58.66, which compare with the state average score of 72.21 for middle level schools.

Those overall scores consist of scores for achievement on the annual ACT Aspire tests, growth on the tests over time, growth in English language proficiency, and measures of school quality and student success, which can take into account student absenteeism, reading and science proficiency, ACT college entrance exam scores, enrollment in Advanced Placement courses and high school graduation rates.

Henderson, for example, had a 43 score for achievement, combined with a 77.6 for growth and a 32 for school quality to get the overall 58.7 score.

Frank Williams, principal at Henderson, told the advisory board that only 8 percent of sixth-graders enter Henderson reading at their grade level and 14 percent at Cloverdale, making it necessary to focus extensively on reading and related comprehension skills.

"To tackle that is really, really simple," Williams said. "To all of our kids who are need in support -- red rover, red rover -- send them right over. We have to get kids out of the in-need-of-support level [on the state tests]. If we do that at our two schools, our weighted achievement scores goes up and our ESSA scores goes up. That means we will have more kids performing at grade level."

Hall's draft overall score is 47.91, which is below the state average of 67.27 for the state's 305 high schools. Hall's score for achievement was 12.9 while its score for growth was 79.9; school quality and student success, 34.2; and four-year graduation rate, 68.6.

Hall Principal Mark Roberts said he and his staff are motivated by the scores to act, to make school rigorous, relevant and engaging for students. That will include the addition of reading intervention programs, an emphasis on reading across the curriculum, greater use of graduation credit recovery programs, the use of an ACT exam preparation boot camp, additional Advanced Placement and concurrent college courses, personalized learning and expanded technology offerings.

Refined systems for recording attendance is another strategy to be used, Roberts said.

"We are not the score that has been designated by the state," Roberts told the advisory committee about the motivation at Hall to improve the rating.

Metro on 02/23/2018

Print Headline: Struggling schools' scoring previewed

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