Arkansas – Accountability

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. ESSA requires states to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) describing the state systems for evaluating school performance and holding schools accountable for improvement. States could submit their plans to the US ED by either April 3 or September 18, 2017. After receiving feedback on their plans from the US ED, states finalize their plans. State accountability systems take effect in school year 2017-18.

SREB developed this profile based on analysis of the plan Arkansas submitted to the US ED on September 15, 2017. SREB will update the profile when Arkansas finalizes its plan.

State Highlights: Expectations for College and Career Readiness

States are not required to include college- and career-readiness expectations in their accountability systems under ESSA. Many SREB states, however, did set college- and career-readiness expectations in their plans, in the form of long-term goals and school performance indicators. Arkansas included the following college- and career-readiness expectation in its plan.

  1. School performance indicator for high schools: ESSA requires states to set an indicator for school quality or student success, which can but does not have to include such measures as school climate and safety, student engagement and college readiness. Arkansas’s indicator of school quality or student success awards points to high schools for students meeting any of the following postsecondary readiness requirements.
    • Earning a composite score of 19 or higher on the ACT exam, and bonus points for meeting ACT readiness scores
    • Earning a final high school GPA of 2.8 or higher
    • Attaining annual course credits in community service learning, computer science, AP, IB, or dual enrollment 
    • Accumulating credits in grades nine through 11 to remain on-time to graduate in four years

Read about this expectation below in the profile.

Long-Term Goals

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states establish long-term goals for all students and student groups based on academic achievement, high school graduation rate and English language proficiency for English learners.

Arkansas established the following long-term goals.

Academic achievement

  • By 2029, 80 percent of students will be proficient on Arkansas’s English language arts and math assessments.

Graduation rate

  • By 2028, 94 percent of students will graduate from high school in four years; 97 percent will graduate in five years.

English language proficiency

  • By 2029, 52 percent of English learners will be on track to English language proficiency.

School Performance Indicators

ESSA specifies a set of indicators that states must use to assess school performance. Indicators for all schools must include academic achievement as measured by proficiency on annual state assessments of English language arts and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. States must require 95 percent of students to participate in these assessments and factor this requirement into the school accountability system. States must also include two more indicators for all schools – English language proficiency for English learners and an indicator of school quality or student success, such as school climate and safety, student engagement and college readiness. For elementary and middle grades schools, states must include an additional academic indicator of the state’s choice, such as student growth on state assessments. For high schools, states must also include an indicator of four-year cohort graduation rate.

Arkansas established the following indicators of school performance.

Level Indicators

All schools

Academic achievement: Schools must meet the 95 percent participation rate for all students and subgroups. Weighted achievement on state assessments will be adjusted by enrollment when the participation rate is less than 95 percent.

English language proficiency: Progress towards English proficiency on state assessment – English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century

School quality or student success:

  • Attendance: rates of chronic absenteeism
  • Science: weighted achievement and student growth on state assessment – ACT Aspire  
  • Reading: weighted achievement on state assessment – ACT Aspire

Elementary and middle grades

Academic achievement: Weighted achievement on state English language arts and math assessments – ACT Aspire

Other academic indicator: Student growth on state English language arts and math assessments – ACT Aspire

High schools

Academic achievement

  • Weighted achievement on state English language arts and math assessments – ACT Aspire
  • Student growth on state English language arts and math assessments – ACT Aspire

Graduation rate

  • Four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate
  • Five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate

School quality or student success: An accumulation of possible points earned for the following postsecondary readiness requirements.

  • Earning a composite score of 19 or higher on the ACT exam, and bonus points for meeting ACT college- and career-readiness scores
  • Earning a final high school GPA of 2.8 or higher
  • Attaining course credits in community service learning, computer science, AP, IB, or dual enrollment 
  • Accumulating annual credits in grades nine through 11 to remain on-time to graduate in four years

Annual Meaningful Differentiation

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states use their performance indicators to differentiate the performance of all schools and to report performance for all students and all student subgroups. States have flexibility in assigning weight to their indicators, so long as their indicators of academic achievement, graduation rate and English language proficiency progress together receive much greater weight than their school quality or student success indicators.

Arkansas established the following framework for differentiating schools, weights for each indicator, and student subgroups and subgroup size.

Framework for differentiating schools in Arkansas

On an annual basis, Arkansas’s ESSA School Index will assign schools an overall numeric score, based on the cumulative indicator scores. For each indicator, schools will receive a numeric score (0 to 100, with extra points possible for academic achievement) for all students and each subgroup of students. Schools will also receive a rating of progress towards long-term goals (exceeding, catching up, keeping up or falling off) for each indicator and student subgroup.

Weights assigned to each indicator in Arkansas

Weights assigned to each indicator in Arkansas - Elementary and Middle Grades (50% Other Academic Indicator and English Language Proficiency Progress / 35% Academic Achievement / 15% School Quality or Student Success) and High Schools (35% Academic Achievement (Student Growth) and English Language Proficiency Progress / 35% Academic Achievement (English Language Arts and Math) / 15% School Quality or Student Success / 15% Graduation Rate)

Note. The English language proficiency progress indicator is combined with the other academic indicator (student growth) at the elementary and middle levels, and with the academic achievement (student growth) indicator at the high school level, and is weighted proportional to the number of English learners assessed on English language proficiency in a school. At the high school level, the four-year graduation rate is weighted at 10 percent, and the five-year rate is weighted at 5 percent.

Student subgroups in Arkansas

  • Subgroups used: For state accountability, Arkansas will focus on six student subgroups – economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, English learners, black students, Hispanic or Latino students, and white students. For reporting purposes only, Arkansas will include three additional subgroups – gifted students, former English learners, and a combined subgroup of English learners and former English learners.
  • Size of subgroups: In instances in which schools do not meet the threshold of 15 students (n-count) for any of the subgroups for an indicator, the school will not be held accountable for performance on that indicator. In instances in which a school has an n-count of fewer than 10 students in a subgroup, the subgroup results will not be reported publicly.

Identifying, Serving and Exiting Schools from Needs Improvement Status

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states establish a methodology for identifying low-performing schools. States must identify two categories of schools at least once every three years: those that need Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and those that need Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI). States may also establish other categories of schools, for example those not in need of improvement.

Arkansas established the following identification and exit criteria, and interventions to support schools.

Comprehensive Support and Improvement

How schools are identified

    • CSI schools: Identified every three years beginning in 2018-19, Title I schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide, based on overall ESSA School Index rating, by grade span
    • CSI high schools: Identified annually beginning in 2018-19, any high school with less than a 67 percent four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate
    • Additional TSI schools that do not exit additional TSI status: Identified beginning in 2021-22, Title I additional TSI schools that do not exit additional TSI status after three years and do not demonstrate improvement over three years
    • Additional CSI schools: Identified every three years beginning in 2021-22, non-Title I additional TSI schools that do not exit additional TSI status after three years and do not demonstrate improvement over three years

    Interventions to meet improvement needs

    State will help local education agencies in supporting CSI schools by:

    • Reviewing resource allocation and providing formula and competitive grants
    • Assigning a liaison to the local education agency
    • Providing assistance, including
      • Guidance and tools to support planning, assessing needs, and determining interventions
      • Technical assistance with supporting student subgroups, identifying evidence-based practices, and monitoring implementation and progress
      • Monitoring use of funds and resources
      • Support for evaluating progress

    After three years, the state will work with the local education agency to analyze the effectiveness of improvement efforts and identify next steps.

    Criteria for exiting this category

      After three years, schools can exit CSI status by:

      • Exceeding the fifth percentile identification criterion and demonstrating improvement
      • Exceeding the 67 percent four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate at the high school level

      Schools that do not exceed the fifth percentile identification criterion and demonstrate improvement over three years in their overall ESSA School Index rating for all students and each student subgroup will be placed in more rigorous CSI interventions.

      Targeted Support and Improvement

      How schools are identified

        • TSI schools: Identified annually beginning in 2020-21: Any school with a “consistently underperforming” student subgroup as measured by the ESSA School Index score for the subgroup
        • Additional TSI schools: Identified beginning in 2018-19: Any school with a student subgroup that has performed at or below all students in any of the Title I schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide

        Interventions to meet improvement needs

          State will help local education agencies in supporting TSI schools by:

          • Providing formula and competitive grants to address needs identified through diagnostic review
          • Providing assistance, including
            • Guidance and tools to support root cause analysis
            • Technical assistance with reviewing improvement plans assessing needs, budgeting and allocating funds, and identifying resource equity gaps
            • Monitoring the fidelity of plan implementation

          Criteria for exiting this category

            After three years, schools can exit TSI status by:

            • Demonstrating improvement in student subgroup ESSA School Index score and exceeding the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools’ ESSA School Index score for all students

            Schools demonstrating improvement over three years in student subgroup ESSA School Index score will not be placed in more rigorous interventions.

            This profile was prepared by Kim Anderson, SREB’s director of benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards, Mary Elizabeth Mira, SREB’s assistant director of benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards, Tiffany Harrison, SREB’s research associate for college- and career-readiness standards and Jeff Gagné, SREB’s director of policy analysis. For more information, please contact Kim Anderson at kim.anderson@sreb.org or Jeff Gagné at jeff.gagne@sreb.org.