**By RICK KRON**

Leader staff writer

This is the second in a series of articles examining Benchmark scores at area schools.

Whether it’s larger schools, the challenges of maturity, more distractions or something else, middle school students — sixth, seventh and eighth graders — don’t score as well on the state’s mandated Benchmark math and literacy exams as their younger counterparts.

It seems that their scores dropped an average of 10 points in both math and literacy compared to third, fourth and fifth graders.

Tops in the area among sixth graders in math were both Cabot middle schools and Lonoke Middle School. Cabot Middle School North was 87 percent proficient or advanced, Cabot Middle School South was at 86 percent and Lonoke Middle, just a point behind at 85 percent on the literacy exam, was tops with 88 percent of its sixth graders at proficient or better. Cabot Middle School South was at 86 percent and Cabot Middle School North was at 83 percent.

Required by No Child Left Behind, all Arkansas students, third through eighth grade, are required to take the annual math and literacy exams. All students are supposed to be working at or above grade level by the end of the 2013-2014 school year, meaning scores of proficient or advanced.

At the other end of the spectrum was Jacksonville Middle School where about half, or 51 percent were proficient or advanced and 23 percent were below basic. The school was also at the bottom rung in literacy with just 40 percent making the cut and 15 percent scoring below basic.

Scores of basic means students need some help to accomplish grade level work and a score of below basic means the student needs constant attention to be successful at grade level.

In seventh grade, no one came close to Ahlf Junior High in Searcy where 88 percent of students were proficient or better. A distant second, 14 points behind, were Lisa Academy North in Sherwood and Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter Middle School, both were 74 percent proficient or better. In literacy, Ahlf was the only area school to hit the 90 percent mark proficient or better in literacy. Lisa Academy was at 86 percent.

England, Jacksonville and Carlisle seventh graders were at the bottom of the score in math. England had only 44 percent of its students score proficient or better and 26 percent were in the below basic category Jacksonville had 49 percent make the cut and 26 percent faltered.

Carlisle was at 51 percent proficient or better and 16 percent below basic. In literacy, the school’s seventh graders were by far the lowest scoring with just 39 percent scoring proficient or advanced. Next was Sylvan Hills and Northwood middle schools, more than 30 points higher at 71 percent proficient or better.

In eighth grade, Ahlf Junior High in Searcy and Lisa Academy North in Sherwood tied for tops in the area in math. Both schools were at 84 percent proficient or advanced In literacy, top honors also went to Ahlf at 90 percent proficient or better, with Cabot Middle School School North at 86 percent. Following close behind was Cabot Middle School South and Lisa Academy North, both at 84 percent proficient or better.

Not doing well were the eighth graders at Jacksonville Middle School, where just 52 percent did well, and Cabot’s Academic Center for Excellence at 56 percent.

What follows is a list of all sixth, seventh and eighth grade scores in the area.

**SIXTH GRADE**

Sixth graders at Beebe Middle School were 70 percent proficient or advanced in math with seven percent below basic. In literacy, the school was 82 percent proficient or better and three percent below basic.

Searcy’s Southwest Middle School was 81 percent proficient or better in math with five percent below basic. The school was 82 percent proficient or better in literacy with 5 percent below basic.

Out of 140 Lonoke sixth graders, 85 percent of them made the cut, while three percent faltered in math. On the literacy side, it was 88 percent proficient or better with 3 percent below basic.

England Elementary was at 64 percent proficient or better in math while 18 percent were below basic. In literacy, 55 percent made the grade and 9 percent were below basic

Sixth graders in Carlisle were 66 proficient or better in math, with 11 percent below basic. In literacy, 77 percent did well and 9 percent faltered.

Cabot Middle School South had 86 percent make the cut while 5 percent were below basic. In literacy, 86 percent were proficient or advanced while just one percent was below basic. At Cabot Middle School North, 87 percent did well in math and 3 percent were below basic. The school was 83 percent proficient or better in literacy with 5 percent below basic.

Jacksonville Middle School sixth graders were 51 percent proficient or better in math with 23 percent below basic. In literacy, 40 percent made the cut while 15 percent faltered.

Sylvan Hills was at 61 percent proficient or advanced in math with 16 percent below basic. The school was 65 percent proficient or better in literacy with 6 percent below basic.

Northwood had 69 percent of it students make the grade and 15 percent falter in math. In literacy, 64 percent were proficient or better while 7 percent were below basic.

Lisa Academy North was at 75 percent proficient or advanced in math while 2 percent were below basic. In literacy, it was 69 percent making the cut while 2 percent faltered.

At Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter Middle, 82 percent of students did well in math and 6 percent scored below basic The school was 66 percent proficient or better in literacy with four percent faltering. At the Flightline Upper Academy, 82 percent did well in math and 6 percent scored below basic. In literacy, 77 percent did well and there were no students in the below basic category.

**SEVENTH GRADE**

Beebe Junior High seventh graders were 69 percent proficient or advanced in math, and 12 percent scored below basic. In literacy, the school was 76 percent proficient or better with 4 percent below basic.

At Ahlf Junior High in Searcy 88 percent did well in math and 6 percent faltered. In literacy, 90 percent were proficient or better and 2 percent were below basic.

Lonoke Middle School had 66 percent proficient or better in math and 15 percent below basic. The school was 73 percent proficient or advanced in literacy and 4 percent of the students scored below basic.

At England High School, the seventh graders were 44 percent proficient or better in math, while 26 percent were below basic. In literacy, 76 percent made the grade and 8 percent faltered.

Out of the 57 seventh graders at Carlisle High School, 51 percent made the cut while 16 percent were below basic. In literacy, 74 percent were proficient or better and 4 percent were below basic.

Students at Cabot Junior High South were 72 percent proficient or better in math with 12 percent below basic. In literacy, the school was 81 percent proficient or advanced and 1 percent below basic. At Cabot Junior High North, 72 percent made the cut in math while 10 percent were below basic. In literacy, 82 percent did well and 2 percent faltered.

PCSSD, as a district, had 60 percent of its seventh graders score proficient or advanced in math and 20 percent were below basic. In literacy, 67 percent did well and 8 percent were below basic.

At Jacksonville Middle School, 49 percent were proficient or better and 26 were below basic in math. For literacy, 39 percent made the cut and 18 percent faltered. Sylvan Hills Middle School was 65 percent proficient or better in math with 16 percent scoring below basic. The school had 71 percent make the cut in literacy with 6 percent below basic. Northwood Middle School was 62 percent proficient or better in math, while 19 percent were below basic. In literacy, 71 percent did well, while 8 percent faltered.

Lisa Academy North had 74 percent score proficient or advanced in math with 6 percent in the below basic range. In literacy, 86 percent of the students did well and none were in the below basic category

At Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter Middle the students were 74 percent proficient or better in math with 16 percent below basic. In literacy, 72 percent did well while 2 percent were below basic. At the Lighthouse’s Upper Academy, 68 percent did well in math while 14 percent faltered. The school was 78 percent proficient or better in literacy and 6 percent were below basic.

**EIGHTH GRADE**

Out of 253 students at Beebe Junior High, 69 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 14 percent were below basic. In literacy, 78 percent of the students did well while just 2 percent were below basic.

At Searcy’s Ahlf Junior High, 84 percent of the students scored proficient or better in math and 6 percent were below basic. The school was 90 percent proficient or better in literacy with 1 percent scoring below basic.

Lonoke Middle School had 75 percent do well in math but 16 percent scored below basic. In literacy, 82 percent were proficient or advanced with 2 percent below basic.

Among the eighth graders at England High School, just 48 percent scored proficient or better on math and 31 percent were in the below basic category. In literacy, 77 percent made the grade while 6 percent faltered.

Carlisle High School had 59 percent of its eighth graders make the cut in math and 15 percent were below basic. For literacy, the school was 77 percent proficient or better with four percent below basic.

At Cabot Junior High South, 72 percent did well in math, but 14 percent were below basic. In literacy, the school was 84 percent proficient or better and 3 percent below basic. Students at Cabot Junior High North were 74 percent proficient or better in math and 12 percent below basic. In literacy, 86 percent did well while just one percent faltered. Out of the 16 students at Cabot’s Academic Center for Excellence, only 25 percent did well in math while 44 percent scored below basic. The school was 56 percent proficient or better in literary and had 6 percent score below basic.

In PCSSD, 52 percent of the students did well in math, while 27 faltered. In literacy, the district had 67 percent score proficient or better and 9 percent were at below basic.

Jacksonville Middle School had 35 percent proficient or advanced in math and 40 percent below basic. In literacy 52 percent were proficient or better and 12 percent faltered. At Sylvan Hills Middle School, 59 percent did well in math and 19 percent were below basic. The school had 70 percent make the grade in literacy and 6 percent below basic. At Northwood Middle School 63 percent were proficient or better in math and 21 percent were below basic. In literacy, 77 percent did well and 2 percent faltered.

At Lisa Academy North 84 percent of the eighth graders did well in math and four percent were below basic. Likewise, 84 percent made the cut in literacy and two percent scored below basic.

Out of the 50 students at Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter Middle 48 percent scored proficient or better in math, while 40 percent were below basic.

At Jacksonville Light-house’s Upper Academy, students were 61 percent proficient or better in math with 15 percent scoring below basic. In literacy, 82 percent were proficient or advanced with four percent below basic.