Our View

Our View

Improving education locally and across the state

A new school year begins, students in West Memphis are enjoying their new digs, Marion students have a popular new superintendent by the name of Glen Fenter, and there is a brand new Arkansas law that alters the way the state and its school districts will use the 2017 results from statemanaged student exams. In other words, this new law calls for multiple measures of student achievement and academic growth that will be the basis of “success plans” developed for every eight-grader and above, regardless of academic skill or ability, to prepare the students for college and careers.

This is a vast improvement over the old system where by schools focused on individual improvement plans only for students who needed help to achieve at their grade level.

The good aspect of this new method of accountability doesn’t simply focus solely on the students who score below proficient, or their grade level, in a subject.

It was interesting to know the change in the state accountability system comes at a time when Arkansas students overall achieved higher on the Aspire tests in 2017 than in 2016. The exams are given in 48 states, but only four have required that the tests be given statewide.

As Stacy Smith, the Arkansas Department of Education’s assistant commissioner for learning services recently pointed out, that with the new vision for student-focused learning for the state, it’s really bout every student and not just a select group.

At this point this is viewed as having plans for every one of the students, not just a student who has failed one test.

As Smith pointed out, Arkansas is transitioning away from one test, one plan to all students and multiple measures, and for good reason.

The old academic improvement plan required a description of the parents’ role and responsibilities, as well as the consequences for a student who failed to participate in the plan.

Now then, this new law calls for the Department of Education staff to collaborate with school districts during the 2017-18 school year to move to an accountability system that pushes for achievement and academic growth for all students.

The way it is suppose to work is to put students on the right path to high school graduation, including the course work a student needs, as well as the need for any remediation of skills or opportunities for accelerated learning. Furthermore, it should also include college and career planning components.

It boils down to personalized education to assist students with achieving readiness for college, careers and community engagement, and we believe this success plan is a definite improvement over the way things were done in the past.

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