**By RICK KRON**

Leader staff writer

This is the first in a series examining Benchmark scores.

A disturbing trend ap-peared on the recently released Benchmark exams for third through fifth graders — the number of students failing the test increased sevenfold across the state.

That trend held true for the local area with nearly one-fourth of the students scoring below basic on the math portion of the test.

But there were positive exceptions to that trend — especially at Mountain Springs and Stagecoach elementaries in Cabot and two area charter schools — and nearly all schools did better in literacy than math.

In literacy, the trend was the opposite, with many third graders struggling, but the percentage improving through the fifth grade.

The third graders at Lisa Academy North were the best in the area in math and among the top in the state with all 46 students scoring proficient or advanced.

They were closely followed by students at Searcy’s Westside Elementary and Cabot’s Magness Creek. At those schools, 96 percent of the students scored proficient or better.

On average, 90 percent of Cabot’s third graders, across that district, are proficient or advanced in math.

Students receive one of four grades on the annual state- mandated exam that is used to rate students, teachers, schools and districts.

A student may receive a score of advanced, which is similar to an A, meaning he or she is working well above grade level. A student may also be proficient, roughly equivalent to a B and meaning the student is working on grade level.

A student may fall into the basic category, similar to a C, meaning the student can’t do grade level work without some help or assistance.

A student in the below basic category is working well under grade level and needs a lot of help to accomplish grade level work, closely related to a D.

Among fourth graders, the best in math in the area was Mountain Springs in Cabot, where out of 73 students, 97 percent were proficient or advanced and none were below basic. Stagecoach Elementary was right behind with 96 percent of its 95 fourth graders scoring proficient or better.

In fifth grade, the top math scores were lower. The best in the area was Cabot Middle School North at 85 percent proficient or better in math. It was followed by Cabot Middle School South and Bayou Meto Elementary in the Pulaski County Special School District. Both of those schools had 84 percent of its students make the grade.

**LITERACY & MATH**

The literacy benchmark tests a student’s ability to read, write and understand grammar at grade level. The best schools in the area in the literacy category were the third graders at Mountain Springs Elementary in Cabot and the fifth graders at the Jacksonville Lighthouse Upper Academy. Both schools had 96 percent score proficient or better.

Besides Mountain Springs, other third grade groups doing well were Lisa Academy North at 95 percent proficient or better and Searcy’s Westside Elementary where 94 percent made the cut.

At the fourth-grade level, 94 percent of the students at Cabot’s Eastside and Mountain Springs Elementary schools score proficient or better in literacy, followed by Sylvan Hills Elementary where 93 percent of the students made the cut.

After the Jacksonville Charter Upper Academy fifth graders, it was Southwest Middle School in Searcy and Cabot Middle School South at 92 percent proficient or advanced.

On the other side, PCSSD’s Warren Dupree, Harris and Pinewood elementaries had less than 50 percent of its students score proficient or advanced in math. Worse yet, Harris had almost twice as many score below basic than proficient or better.

Warren Dupree had 31 percent at below basic, Cato and Murrell Taylor Elementary schools were at 23 percent below basic, Pinewood and Sylvan Hills elementaries had 22 percent fail and Tolleson was at 21 percent.

In fourth grade, the worst math scores were posted at Warren Dupree where 65 percent of the students scored proficient or better, but 14 percent were below basic and Harris Elementary, where 61 percent made the grade, but 19 percent faltered.

At the third grade level in math, Pinewood and Warren Dupree had the lowest percent of students scoring proficient or advanced.

In literacy, Harris and Warren Dupree elementaries had the lowest percentage of third graders passing the test at 67 percent.

Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter third graders were just a point better with 68 percent scoring proficient or better.

Among fourth graders, Lisa Academy North was the only school in the area below the 70 percent mark in literacy. Out of its 48 fourth graders only 68 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At the fifth-grade level, less than half of Harris Elementary students made the cut. Just 45 percent of its 44 fifth graders scored proficient or better.

The next lowest was Cato elementary — 35 points higher with 70 percent of its students scoring proficient or better.

Here are results by grades:

**THRID GRADE**

In Beebe, 139 third-graders took the test at Beebe Elementary. In math, 85 percent were proficient or better, while four percent were below basic. In literacy, 80 percent made the cut, while 8percent were below basic. At Badger Elementary, 119 took the test and 83 percent were proficient or better in math, while 3 percent were below basic. In literacy, 76 percent of the little Badgers made the cut, while 13 percent were below basic.

In Searcy, out of 93 Sidney Deener students 75 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 3 percent faltered. In literacy, 73 percent made the cut, while 12 percent were below basic. Out of 111 Searcy McRae Elementary students, 84 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 3 percent were below basic.

In literacy, 87 percent made the cut, while 7 percent faltered. At Westside Elementary 96 percent of the 98 students taking the math Benchmark scored proficient or better, just 1 percent were below basic. In literacy, 94 percent were proficient or better, while 4 percent were below basic.

In Lonoke, 82 percent of the third graders scored proficient or advanced in math, while 4 percent were below basic. In literacy, 71 percent were proficient or better, while 11 percent faltered.

At England Elementary, 92 percent scored proficient or better and 5 percent were below basic in math. In literacy, 73 percent made the cut and 15 percent were below basic.

In Carlisle, 92 percent of third graders scored proficient or better in math. There were none in the below basic category. In literacy, 79 percent made the cut and 8 percent were below basic.

In Cabot, Eastside Ele-mentary had 91 percent proficient or better and one percent below basic in math. In literacy, 89 percent made the cut and 6 percent were below basic.

At Central Elementary, 83 percent were proficient or better in math, while 3 percent were below basic. In literacy, 84 percent made the cut, while 9 percent were below basic.

At Westside Elementary 87 percent did well in math with no students in the below-basic category. In literacy, 78 percent made the cut and 7 percent were below basic.

Southside had 91 percent score proficient or advanced in math and none below basic. The school was at 85 percent proficient or better n literacy and had 6 percent below basic. Northside saw 82 percent of its students do well in math and 6 percent score below basic. In literacy, 81 percent did well, while 11 percent were below basic.

Ward Central had 92 percent proficient or better in math and 2 percent below basic. In literacy, 85 percent made the cut and 6 percent were below basic.

Magness Creek had 96 percent proficient and none below basic in math. The school had 93 percent proficient or better in literacy and just 1 percent faltered.

At Stagecoach, 93 percent of the students did well in math and one percent scored below basic. In literacy, 89 percent were proficient or better, while three percent were below basic. Mountain Springs had 92 percent make the cut and 2 percent below basic in math. It had 96 percent, the best in the district, score proficient or better in literacy and 2 percent at below basic.

In PCSSD, Bayou Meto had 84 percent of its third graders score proficient or better in math and 3 percent were below basic. In literacy, 80 percent did well and 12 percent were below basic. Clinton Elementary had 82 percent proficient or better in math with 4 percent below basic. In literacy, 84 percent did well and 7 percent were below basic.

At Warren Dupree, 69 percent scored well while 6 percent were below basic in math. The school had 67 percent score proficient or better in literacy and 18 percent below basic.

At Harris, 74 percent did well in math and 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 67 percent were proficient or better while 13 percent faltered.

Tolleson had 84 percent proficient or better in math and 2 percent in the below basic category. For literacy, 70 percent scored well while 20 percent were below basic.

Sherwood Elementary had 91 percent proficient or better and none below basic in math. It had 74 percent score well in literacy and seven percent below basic.

Sylvan Hills had 92 percent proficient or better in math and none in the below basic category. In literacy, 79 percent did well and 6 percent were below basic.

At Cato, 90 percent of the students did well and 2 percent were below basic in math. In literacy, 80 percent scored proficient or better, while 5 percent faltered. Pinewood had 68 percent make the cut in math and 7 percent below basic. While in literacy, 70 percent did well and 15 percent were below basic.

Arnold Drive Elementary had 93 percent score well in math and 2 percent below basic. It had 91 percent do well in literacy and 2 percent below basic.

At Oakbrooke, 82 percent scored proficient or better in math and none were below basic. In literacy, 80 percent did well but 5 percent were below basic. Murrell Taylor had 76 percent score well on math and none in the below basic category. It had 77 percent score proficient or better in literacy and 10 percent were below basic.

Lisa Academy North had 100 percent of its third graders score proficient or advanced in math. In literacy, it was 95 percent doing well and 4 percent below basic.

The Jacksonville Charter School had 88 percent do well in math, but 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 84 percent made the grade and 2 percent faltered.

**FOURTH GRADE**

Beebe Elementary had 93 percent of its fourth graders score proficient or advanced on the math Benchmark an one percent score below basic. On the literacy exam, 93 percent also did well and 1 percent was below basic.

At Badger Elementary it was 92 percent proficient or better and 1 percent below basic. In literacy, 90 percent did well and 2 percent faltered.

At Searcy’s Southwest Middle School, 86 percent of the 323 fifth graders scored proficient or better in math with 6 percent below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well with 3 percent below basic.

In Lonoke, 72 percent scored proficient or better on math and 10 percent were below basic. On literacy, 79 percent did well and 2 percent were below basic.

Out of 51 England Elem-entary fourth graders, 74 percent were proficient or better while eight percent were below basic. In literacy, 76 percent did well and 8 percent were below basic.

Among Carlisle students, 87 did well in math and 2percent were below basic. The school had 92 percent proficient or better in literacy with none in the below basic category.

At Cabot’s Eastside Ele-mentary, 89 percent were proficient or advanced in mat and 2 percent scored below basic. In literacy, 90 percent did well and 2 percent were below basic.

Central Elementary had 87 percent do well in math and 5 percent at below basic. The school had 94 percent proficient or better in literacy and 2 percent below basic.

Westside students were 85 percent proficient or better in math and 6 percent scored below basic. In literacy, 93 percent were proficient or better while 1 percent was below basic.

At Southside, 92 percent scored well in math, while 2 percent falter. The school had 95 percent make the cut in literacy and 3 percent ended at below basic. Northside students were 87 percent proficient or better in math while 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 86 percent made the cut and 5 percent were below basic.

Ward Central was 84 percent proficient or advanced in math with 8 percent below basic. For literacy, the school was 79 percent proficient or better and had no one score below basic.

At Magness Creek, 91 percent made the cut in math and there was no one below basic. In literacy, 90 scored proficient or better and there were no students below basic.

No one scored below basic in math or literacy at Stagecoach Elementary. In math it was 97 percent proficient or better and 94 percent in literacy.

Mountain Springs had 97 percent proficient or advanced in math and none below basic. In literacy, it was 94 percent proficient with one percent below basic.

Out of the 48 students at Lisa Academy North, 75 percent made the cut in math and 10 percent were below basic. In literacy, just 68 percent were proficient or better and 6 percent were below basic.

Jacksonville Lighthouse was 88 percent proficient or better in math with 6 percent below basic. In literacy, 84 percent did well and 2 percent faltered.

In PCSSD, Bayou Meto students were 88 percent proficient or advanced in math with 2 percent below basic. In literacy, 82 percent made the cut and 4 percent were below basic.

At Clinton Elementary, 79 percent were proficient or better in math and 5 percent below basic. The school had 86 percent do well in literacy and 2 percent below basic.

Warren Dupree was 65 percent proficient or advanced in math with 14 percent below basic. In literacy, 80 percent did well and 5 percent faltered.

Harris Elementary was at 61 percent proficient or better in math with 17 percent below basic. In literacy, 75 percent made the grade, while 6 percent were below basic.

Tolleson students were 88 percent proficient or better in math with 6 percent below basic. The school had 86 percent of its students make the cut in literacy while 6 percent faltered.

Sherwood Elementary was 74 percent proficient or advanced in math with six percent below basic. In literacy, it was also 74 percent proficient or better with 3 percent below basic. Sylvan Hills had 84 percent make the cut in math and 3 percent score below basic. For literacy, 93 percent did well and 2 percent were below basic.

Cato Elementary had 79 percent make the cut in math while 6 percent were below basic. In literacy it was 80 percent proficient or better with 4 percent below basic. Pinewood had 72 percent at proficient or better in math and 4 percent below basic. The school had 84 percent make the cut in literacy and none scored below basic. Arnold Drive was 78 percent proficient or better in math but 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 90 percent did well and 3 percent faltered.

Oakbrooke had 86 percent proficient or better in math and 6 percent below basic. In literacy, 88 percent made the cut and 6 percent faltered.

Murrell Taylor had 75 percent make the grade in math while 13 percent were below basic. The school was 74 percent proficient or better in literacy with 3 percent below basic.

**FIFTH GRADE**

Fifth graders struggled mathematically almost across the board but did much better in literacy.

Out of 229 Beebe Middle School fifth graders, 60 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 18 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent made the cut, while 3 percent faltered.

At Searcy’s Southwest Middle School, 79 percent did well in math and 10 percent were below basic. For literacy, 92 percent were proficient or better and just 2 percent below basic.

Only 56 percent of Lonoke Elementary students were proficient or better in math and 12 percent were below basic. The school had 81 percent do well in literacy and 5 percent scored below basic.

In England, 62 percent of the fifth graders scored proficient or advanced, while 19 percent were below basic. In literacy, 74 percent made the cut, while 8 percent faltered.

Carlisle Elementary had 63 percent of its students do well in math, with 20 percent below basic. In literacy, 86 percent were proficient or better and 2 percent were below basic.

At Cabot Middle School South, 84 percent of the students scored proficient or better in math and 7 percent were below basic. The school had 92 percent proficient or better in literacy with 1 percent in the below basic range.

Cabot Middle School North was 85 percent proficient or better in math with 5 percent below basic. The school had 90 percent make the cut in literacy, while 2 percent were below basic.

Lisa Academy North had 76 percent make the cut in math while 8 percent were below basic. The school had 84 percent do well in literacy and 8 percent below basic.

Out of 49 fifth graders at Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle school, 78 percent scored proficient or better in math and 8 percent were below basic In literacy, the school’s students were 88 percent proficient or better and two percent were below basic.

At the Lighthouse Upper Academy, 81 percent did well in math and 7 percent were below basic.

Lighthouse Upper Acade-my hit 96 percent proficient or better in literacy with none below basic.

At PCSSD’s Bayou Meto, 64 percent did well in math, but 19 percent were below basic. In literacy, 83 percent were proficient or better with 4 percent below basic.

Clinton Elementary had 65 percent score proficient or better with 15 percent in the below basic range. The school was 82 percent proficient or better in literacy with 4 percent below basic.

At Warren Dupree, only 43 percent were proficient or better in math and 31 percent were below basic. But in literacy it jumped to 77 percent proficient or better with 4 percent below basic.

Harris had just 28 percent make the cut in math and 50 percent were below basic. In literacy, the school was 45 percent proficient or better with 18 percent below basic.

Tolleson had 71 percent make the grade in math, but 21 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well and six percent faltered.

Sherwood Elementary fifth graders were 72 percent proficient or advanced in math, while 14 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well and two percent were below basic.

Sylvan Hills had just 56 percent make the cut in math and had 22 percent in the below basic range. In literacy, 81 percent were proficient or better with none below basic.

Oakbrooke students were 73 percent proficient or better in math and 16 percent below basic. In literacy, 84 percent were proficient or advanced with 7 percent below basic.

Cato had 66 percent make the grade, but also had 23 percent score below basic. In literacy, 70 percent made the cut and 7 percent were below basic

At Pinewood, 48 students scored proficient or advanced in math and 22 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well and just 2 percent were below basic.

Arnold Drive had 71 percent make the cut in math, but had 21 percent at below basic. In literacy, it had 79 percent proficient or advanced with 8 percent below basic.

At Murrell Taylor, 52 percent were proficient or better in math with 23 percent at below basic. In literacy, it jumped to 82 percent proficient or better with 2 percent scoring below basic.