School plans on improvements after low ranking

OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Department of Education released its list of Achieving, Needs Improvement, Needs Improvement Focus and Needs Improvement Priority schools Nov. 5.

The department released its Exemplary list Nov. 6.

These ratings rank schools based on test scores.

We first brought you the story of Brookland Elementary, one of nine schools in the state to receive the Exemplary rating, the highest test score ranking. Newport Junior High School was also ranked Exemplary.

Friday, we visited Osceola High School, one of the Region 8 schools to receive the lowest ranking, Needs Improvement Priority.

"We're not where we need to be, but we're on the right road to get there. We're gradually improving every year," superintendent Michael Cox said.

Four years ago, 13 percent of Osceola High School students passed the 11th grade literacy test. Today, they have improved that number to almost 50 percent.

"We work every day. I spend time at the high school every day," Cox said.

But even with that drastic improvement, the school still did not meet the state assigned annual measurable objective (AMO). The school's AMO was 52.85 percent. It missed its target by just three percent this year, ranking it as Needs Improvement Priority.

To improve this, Cox said the biggest thing is to "guard instructional time in the classroom."

"Kids have to come every day. They have to be on time to class. Teachers need to be teaching from bell to bell.  And they also have to be teaching to the right level of difficulty. They have to understand the problem, rather than just guess at an answer," Cox said.

Cox said all parties also need to have a passion for learning.

"If the superintendent doesn't have that passion, then your principals won't have it. And if the principals don't have it, the teachers wont have it. And the kids, they know if someone cares about what they learn," Cox said.

Cox said the school not only cares about what students learn, but also their futures.

"I look at this test like, if we make AMO, then we're doing a good job of preparing students for life, for a job, college or whatever they plan to do," Cox said. "I think we'll be okay if we work hard and work smart."

Two schools in the Osceola School District did make the Achieving list, the second-best ranking, North Elementary and Carroll Smith Elementary.

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