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July 5, 2005 Extra Credit
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July 5, 2005

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State Test Scores Improve in Arkansas

The following are excerpts from a recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article highlighting the achievement of the students in the Little Rock School District on this year's state tests.

“Twenty-nine of Little Rock's 34 elementary schools demonstrated gains on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, as did four of the five high schools in literacy, according to the school district's initial review of fifth- and ninth-grade results for the past two years.

“‘That's the one we are waving the flag about,’ Karen DeJarnette, the district's director of planning, research and evaluation, said about the increases in most of the city's schools.

“Fifth-graders this past year scored in the 49th percentile in reading, up from the 48th percentile the year before. This year's fifth-graders also scored at the 41st percentile in math concepts, unchanged since 2003-04, and at the 48th percentile in math problem solving, up from the 45th percentile.

“This year’s ninth-graders scored at the 45th percentile in reading, up from the 43rd percentile the year before, and the 43rd percentile in math, up from the 41st percentile.

“The Arkansas Department of Education is expected to release a statewide summary of results in the coming weeks. ‘The schools are getting the results, but I haven't received the state results yet,’ Gayle Potter, the department's associate director for assessment, said Friday. ‘As [the scoring company] gets the results for schools done, they send it back to the schools, but it's not all done yet and it has to be all completed before the state summaries are done.’

“The Iowa test is one component of the state's expanding effort to monitor the achievement levels of the 450,000 public school students. That accountability is mandated by Act 35 of the 2003 special legislative session on education and the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The Iowa tests are a nationally standardized set of multiple choice exams that compare the achievement levels of Little Rock and Arkansas test-takers to a national sample of students who took the same tests.

DeJarnette said Friday that the Iowa test provides critical information to the district and parents. ‘I lean on putting quite a bit of value on the [Iowa test] because it helps us look at ourselves in a national framework,” she said. “We aren't in a vacuum.’

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Last Modified: 07/12/2005