More schools placed on academic "alert"

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

RAVENDEN SPRINGS, AR (KAIT) - More schools across the state of Arkansas are making a failing grade on benchmark and end-of-year exams, according to statistics released by the Arkansas Department of Education. Of all the schools in Arkansas, only 498 have been classified as "achieving". The other 583 schools have been given "alert" statuses or worse.

"It looks like that we have our work cut out for us and we're going to try to get into the areas where we are been placed on alert and try to focus on those particular points," said David Gilliland, Superintendent of the Twin Rivers School District at Oak Ridge.

Under Arkansas' "No Child Left Behind" Act, schools must make proficient marks on benchmark and end-of-year exams. If a school fails to score high enough, then it is put on "alert" by the State Board of Education. If the school fails two consecutive years, then corrective action may be taken.

Schools are given one of seven classifications. The best schools are classified as "achieving schools". Schools that do not meet Adequate Yearly Progress in math and/or literacy are classified as "state directed" schools.

To find out what classification your school is, click here.

Gilliland said his students scored poorly in literacy and mathematics.

"It's just real difficult but we are trying to keep aware of our faculty that it's going to get higher," said Gilliland. "The standards are going to become higher, so therefore we're just going to have to challenge our students that much more."

High School Principal Don Hamilton told Region 8 News Twin Rivers offers remedial courses for students who "under-achieve".

"We have remediation teachers for both literacy and math, and they look at the student's individual test scores and see what they're weaknesses are and start with that and the remediation is based primarily on the weaknesses that the students have," said Hamilton. "It means that we have some things to do to work to improve our school where we haven't met the standards that the state requires."

Hamilton said the school currently offers incentives to students who do well in testing. Friday, Twin Rivers held an awards ceremony inside the gymnasium recognizing those students who exceeded expectations.

"This is where we are. This is where we need to be and work through that process through the remediation and the weaker points and try to rise above the alert status," said Gilliland.

Hamilton said teacher curriculum is created by looking at individual SLE scores, or Student Learning Expectations.

"We just didn't work hard enough last year to be proficient or advanced," said Hamilton.

"Challenge the kids in the classroom with the literacy and with our math and make sure that we're getting the best quality education to our kids that we can," said Gilliland. "We have some really good faculty and staff. I think we will do what we need to do to improve those grades on a proficient level."

@2009 KAIT

 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.