Tuesday, January 10, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Evaluating skills test

Here’s a salute to area students who did well on the recent Iowa Basic Test of Skills. The top schools here include Mountain Springs Elementary in Cabot and Arnold Drive Elementary on Little Rock Air Force Base, where students scored in the 74th percentile, higher than about three-fourths of the nation’s students.

Also scoring well were Lonoke Primary School in the 72nd percentile, Cabot’s Eastside Elementary was in the 71st percentile and Magness Creek Elementary scored in the 70th percentile.

According to the University of Arkansas, which recently released the report, Arkansas students from kindergarten through the ninth grade who took the Iowa Basic Test of Skills were in the 55th national percentile ranking, meaning they scored better than 54 percent of the students across the nation who took the test.

The overall percentile is based on what the students scored in the reading, math, language and science portions of the skills test. Only certain grades took the science portion.

A percentile score of 50 is considered average, with half the nation scoring worse than that and half scoring better. The tests are not easy and students who get encouragement at home do better. It’s worth noting that children of military dependents score well above average, which reinforces the importance of education to Air Force families serving at the base.

Among Cabot elementary schools, Stagecoach scored in the 68th percentile, Central Elementary was in the 66th percentile, Northside and Westside were in the 64th percentile and Ward Central was at 60.

At the secondary level, Cabot Middle School South scored in the 63rd percentile, Cabot Junior High North was at 61, followed by Cabot Junior High South and Cabot Middle School North, both at the 59th percentile. The Academic Center for Excellence scored in the 51st percentile.

While the state average was in the 57th percentile, most Pulaski County Special School District students scored substantially lower, while those in Cabot and Beebe did much better.

Besides Arnold Drive on base, three other PCSSD schools beat the state average and two tied the average. Clinton Elementary was in the 60th percentile, while Tolleson and Oakbrooke elementary schools were at the 58th percentile and Sherwood and Cato elementary schools matched the state at the 55th percentile.

Jacksonville’s Lighthouse Academy, a charter school, was also in the 54th percentile.

All Beebe schools scored higher than the state average, except for Beebe Middle School, which missed the mark by one. Beebe’s early childhood center scored in the 62nd percentile. Badger Elementary was in the 58th percentile, Beebe Elementary and Beebe Junior High were at the 57th percentile, Beebe High School was at 56 and Beebe Middle School came in with a percentile ranking of 54.

While the Lonoke primary school had an overall percentile of 72 and 77 in language (tops in the region), the other Lonoke schools fell below the state average.

Schools that did well are determined to stay on course, while those who fell behind must do better.

Unfortunately those that need to do better number close to a dozen and fall mostly around and in Jacksonville and Sherwood.

While Arnold Drive continues to perform well, imagine what it could do in a district that was also solidly focused on its kids like the school is.

Other schools in the district were in the 30 to 40th percentile range and that spells economic trouble for our future. If our kids are scoring below average in the state how can they compete nationwide or globally?

Let’s salute Arnold Drive and Mountain Springs and our other bright spots, but remember we must bring up the others, or pay for not doing so.