The Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education released today the 2022 state and federal accountability reports for Arkansas public schools. The reports include information about student achievement and growth, graduation rates, and other indicators that measure student learning.
The state and federal reports, available on the My School Info website (https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov), mirror each other in many ways, with the state report including a letter grade for each school. This year marks the first time in three years that schools have received letter grades. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, statewide assessments were not administered in 2020, and accountability reports were not released. Assessments were given in 2021, and accountability reports, including ESSA School Index Scores, were released; however, the Arkansas Legislature granted a pause on issuing letter grades for 2020 and 2021 because of pandemic disruptions on student learning.
While the number of schools receiving A and B letter grades decreased in 2022 compared to 2019, nearly 60 percent of schools’ ESSA School Index Scores (explained in more detail below) increased when compared to 2021 scores.
“As expected, this year’s reports do not reflect a complete recovery from the pandemic’s effects on student learning; however, the results do suggest a rebound from the previous year,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “Since the height of the pandemic, districts and the state have used federal ESSER funds to implement programs designed to accelerate learning. The impact of these programs is promising; however, it is essential that the state and local school communities stay focused and continue best practices that will accelerate learning.”
Additional 2022 Report Highlights
The bullets below reflect additional highlights from this year’s reports.
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 required states to develop their own accountability systems to determine how well students are learning. Arkansas stakeholders, which included teachers, students, administrators, parents, legislators, and the community, developed Arkansas’ system, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in January 2018.
In 2013, the Arkansas Legislature passed legislation that requires the state to implement an A-F grading scale for schools. At the request of Arkansas stakeholders, ADE aligned the state’s accountability system, including the School Rating System, with the approved Arkansas Every Student Succeeds Act federal accountability plan.
The reports released today include numerous measures of student learning for multiple years. Trend data provide schools a sense of how students perform academically over time and whether schools are improving access and opportunity for success. Districts should review each measure closely and use the data to make informed decisions about student learning. Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their child’s school to discuss the results.
ESSA School Index Scores are comprised of four main weighted indicators: Weighted Achievement, Value-Added Growth, School Quality and Student Success, and Graduation Rate (where applicable).
For state accountability purposes, each school receives an A-F letter grade based on the school’s ESSA School Index score. When comparing 2022 scores to 2019 scores — a three-year gap — it is not surprising that more schools at all grade spans are clustered in the lower letter grades. It is important to keep in mind that the 2022 grades are reflective of many factors that include learning loss and other potentially lagging impacts of the pandemic.