Wednesday, May 11, 2016

TOP STORY >> Report cards mixed bag

Leader staff writer

Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final in-depth look at state report cards released last month.

Using its own grading system, the state went from more than 100 A schools last year to 10 this year and none of the 10 were in this area. Lonoke followed the trend of other area districts with its school staying the same or dropping.

The one exception in the Lonoke, Carlisle and England school districts was England High School, which actually improved from a D to a C.

Interestingly, in Lonoke all the schools received a D except the high school, which earned a C, down from a B a year ago.

The state bases the letter grade on a score the schools receive based on academic growth and performance. Graduation rates are added into the high school scores.

In Lonoke, Superintendent Suzanne Bailey and Amanda Rather, the district coordinator, are putting more stock in the ESEA school reports rather than the state report, which shows that both the district’s primary and elementary schools received D’s.

“In contrast to the letter grade report released by Arkansas Department of Education, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) School Report showed our primary and elementary schools as ‘Achieving Schools’ in all areas: percent tested, literacy, and math—meeting the 2015 Annual Measurable Objective set by the state,” said Bailey.

Rather added that Lonoke Primary School is a feeder school for Lonoke Elementary. “Whatever grade or ranking the elementary school receives, so will the primary school. This year, the elementary school grew seven points overall as a school. They ended the year with a score of 209, which is one point away from moving up a whole letter score to a C, which requires a 210 score. Lonoke Elementary received points for achievement gap adjustment. This tells us that the gaps are closing.”

Bailey said her district is working to ensure the schools improve in both reports.

“We are focusing on reading instruction and planned targeted professional development for teachers that address needs indicated by administration, self-reflection, and shifts in curriculum. Our curriculum teams are building maps to align curriculum both horizontally and vertically; and we are working hard to be constituent in our literacy and math instruction,” explained Rather.

Bailey said the effort is working. “Flexible reading groups showing 18 percent growth in second grade literacy and 12 percent in first grade literacy,” she said.

Bailey also said that the ESEA report paints an entirely different picture of the middle school compared to the state report. She said Lonoke Middle showed growth on the letter grade reports, ending up one point shy from moving up from a letter D. “LMS scored 209 points showing 11 points of growth from last year,” the superintendent said.

The ESEA report shows Lonoke Middle achieving in math, percent tested, but needing improvement in literacy among two subgroups of students.

“In literacy, when looking at all students, they, too, met (annual growth), but the compilation of the subgroups did not. The subgroup population missed the (annual growth) by 0.88 points,” explained Rather.

“What are we doing to continue to increase student achievement at LMS? We focused on consistency, curriculum alignment, culture building using the Rachel’s Challenge (Kindness Matters) program and providing professional development for teachers to incorporate literacy instruction/skills into content classes,” Bailey said.

At the high school level, Bailey said the score was seven points shy of a B. “However, this year, the gap at LHS between gender and racial groups, showed to be bigger in years past, which affected the school’s rating. But, just like all other Lonoke schools, LHS performed well on the ESEA report. The school was achieving in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Graduation Rate.”


The state gave the primary school a D with a score of 209 compared to a D with a score of 203 last year. The elementary school had identical letter grades and scores both years. The middle school received a D this year with a score of 209 compared to a D last year with a score of 198.

The high school dropped from a B last year to a C this year with the score going from 254 down to 233.


The elementary school got a C on its state report card this year with a score of 213 compared to a C and a score of 226 last year. The high school dropped 25 point from a 241 to a 216 and from a B to C.


According to the state, Lonoke Elementary is a C-rated school with a score of 234. Last year it had a score of 213 which was still a C. The high school improved from a D to a C. Last year it had a score of 191 compared to this year’s 214.