Tuesday, August 13, 2013

EDITORIAL>>Give credit where due

Recent Benchmark scores showed some of our schools are scoring advanced or approaching advanced and it showed others located at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Both need to be examined. Schools with good scores needed to be applauded for their performance and then observed or questioned as to what they are doing right and can that “rightness” be modeled by those schools in need.

Every year students from the third grade through the eighth must take the state-required Benchmark exams in math and literacy. Students in fifth and seventh grades also take an additional science test. The scores are used to determine whether a students is doing well or not, if a teacher is doing well or not, and likewise for schools and districts.

This current form of the Benchmark will be given through this year and by then, all students should, according to No Child Left Behind, be at or above grade level in math and literacy.

After this school year a new test or assessment, as educators call them, will be developed to take in consideration the new style or emphasis of instruction known as Common Core which started to be implemented about three years ago.

Student Benchmark scores can be placed in one of four categories: Advanced or the equivalent of an A; Proficient, or roughly a B; Basic which equates to a C; or Below Basic, which by any account is a failing score.

Schools need to be commended for either having a high number of students at the proficient or advanced levels, meaning at or above grade level, and should also be applauded for having no students in the Below Basic or failing category.

The standout among third-graders was Sher-wood’s Lisa Academy North, where all 46 students scored proficient or advanced in math and 95 percent did so in literacy.

At Searcy’s Westside Elementary, 96 percent of the 98 third-grade students made the cut in math and 94 percent did so in literacy. Overall, the school had fewer than five students with struggling scores.

Salutes go to Cabot’s Magness Creek third-graders who were also 96 percent proficient or better in math (with none below basic) and 93 percent likewise in literacy. Salutes also to Mountain Springs with 92 percent doing well in math and 96 percent making the cut in literacy.

Among the Pulaski County Special School District campuses, Little Rock Air Force Base’s Arnold Drive Elementary third-graders were tops with 93 percent making the grade in math and 91 percent in literacy.

Other third-graders may not have had as many scoring proficient or better but still need recognition because they had no students in the failing category. Carlisle, Westside, Southside, Sherwood, Sylvan Hills, Oakbrooke and Murrell Taylor elementary schools had no third graders fall into the dreaded below basic category. Congrats!

Among fourth-graders, Cabot’s Mountain Springs and Stagecoach elementary schools had the best math scores at 97 and 96 percent, respectively. Cabot Southside was tops in literacy with 95 percent of the students doing well, followed by Mountain Springs and Eastside, both at 94 percent proficient or better, and Sylvan Hills at 93 percent..

Schools with no fourth-graders in the failing category included Mountain Springs, Stagecoach and Magness Creek in math. In literacy, Carlisle, Central, Ward Central, Magness Creek, Stagecoach and Pinewood elementary schools had no below basic scores. Super!

When it came to fifth-grade math scores, Cabot Middle School North was tops in the area with 85 percent of its 426 fifth-graders making the grade. The school was closely followed by its counterpart, Cabot Middle School South, and Bayou Meto Elementary, both at 84 percent proficient or better. In fifth-grade literacy, Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School’s Upper Academy bested everyone at 96 percent proficient or better, with none in the below basic category. Next came Searcy Southwest Middle School and Cabot Middle School South, both at 92 percent. Sylvan Hills had no students fall below basic, or failing, category. Nice!

Cabot Middle Schools did well at the sixth- grade level. In math, Middle School North was at 87 percent, South at 86 percent. Just behind was Lonoke Middle at 85 percent proficient or better. In literacy, it was Lonoke Middle School at the top with 88 percent proficient or better, followed by Cabot Middle School South at 86 percent. Kudos!

Seventh-graders at Searcy’s Ahlf Junior High bested the area in math at 88 percent. At a distance second were Lisa Academy North and the Lighthouse’s Upper Academy, both with 74 percent. In literacy, it was Ahlf again, at 90 percent proficient or advanced, followed by Lisa Academy North at 86 percent. The school also had no seventh-grader in the below basic category. Superb!

It was Ahlf and Lisa Academy again at the eight-grade level in math, with both schools at 84 percent proficient or advanced. In literacy, it was Ahlf Junior High at 90 percent proficient or better, followed by Cabot Junior High North at 86 percent, then Cabot Junior High South and Lisa Academy North, both with 84 percent of its eighth-graders making the cut.

Congratulations to all those hardworking and outstanding students, teachers and their schools.