Superintendent's Blog

Superintendent's Blog: A Crash Course in Understanding the AR School Accountability System

Posted 11/13/2014

When you first look at the 2014 School Performance Report for Cabot schools, you may be confused or even puzzled.  Especially when you see literacy and math score scores in the 80’s and 90’s and then realize all of our schools, except one, are listed as Needs Improvement Schools.

Why?  Well, here’s some background that will hopefully help you understand it a little better. 

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, was enacted in 2001. The federal legislation required all schools to reach grade level proficiency for all students in both literacy and math by 2014.  The fact that children develop and learn at different rates makes the requirement virtually impossible to achieve.

As 2014 approached and lawmakers recognized the impact the law would have on public schools, they allowed the Department of Education to grant waivers for flexibility from the NCLB requirements.  Arkansas was granted one of these waivers from the U.S. Department of Education in 2012.

At that time, new Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO’s) were set for each school based upon their individual performances. The better the school had performed on the state’s Benchmark and End of Course Assessments, the higher the AMO’s were set.  Cabot schools had high test scores so we received high AMO’s.

Additionally, the waiver initiated the use of the Targeted Achievement Gap Group, or TAGG. This group is comprised of students who are considered most at risk of failing to meet grade level proficiencies.  The TAGG group consists of special education students, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students.  

The waiver outlined a new system in which schools would need to meet the AMO targets for both the “All Students” and “TAGG” groups in both literacy and math.  For high schools, the graduation rates must also be met for both groups.

The Arkansas ESEA Flexibility Waiver identifies the following performance categories.

Achieving:  School meeting the AMO targets in all areas for All Students and TAGG

Needs Improvement:  School fails to meet AMO target in one or more categories

Needs Improvement Focus:  Schools identified in 2011 with the largest gap between the performance of the All Students and TAGG groups

Needs Improvement Priority:  The lowest performing schools in the state in the All Students group

It’s important to note there are 1066 public schools in Arkansas that are assigned an accountability performance level.  For this year, Arkansas has 67 Achieving schools; 877 Needs Improvement schools; 85 Needs Improvement Focus schools and 37 Needs Improvement Priority schools.

Many high performing districts have no schools rated as achieving.  In fact, some districts comparable to Cabot in Central Arkansas do not have any achieving schools. 

On the other side of this, some schools have scores significantly lower than Cabot schools and are rated Achieving.  One school in particular is 69.49% proficient in literacy and 60.87% proficient in math. They are an Achieving school because their initial testing scores, at the time of the AMO setting, were quite low.

Here’s a summary of how our scores breakdown.  

Cabot has one Achieving school (Southside Elementary - 90.81% literacy and 92.23% math) and 15 Needs Improvement Schools, but here’s where it can get confusing.  While Southside has outstanding scores, so does Stagecoach Elementary.  In fact, Stagecoach has an ever so slightly higher score (91.02% literacy and 92.81% math, almost 1% higher), yet Stagecoach Elementary is considered a Needs Improvement School.  

In fact, Eastside Elementary, Magness Creek Elementary and Mountain Springs Elementary Schools all have scores in the low 90’s and high 80’s.  Central Elementary, Northside Elementary, Ward Central Elementary, Middle School North, Middle School South, Junior High North, Junior High South, and Cabot High School all have literacy and math scores in the 80’s, but they have all been placed on the Needs Improvement list.  Westside has a literacy score in the high 70’s and a math score in the low 80’s.  

Click HERE to see the full 2014 School Performance Reports for the Cabot School District.

Still baffled? Well, we have to remember higher standards were set early on for Cabot schools because we performed so well on the state’s Benchmark and End of Course Assessments.  

Despite the report, our priority in Cabot has and always will be to provide an excellent educational opportunity for our students. Our teachers and administrators continually work to improve our schools to make them the best they can be.  Unfortunately, that hard work is being overshadowed by a complicated and often misunderstood accountability system.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions. You may use the “Contact Superintendent” tab or email me directly at


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Cabot Public Schools

Elementary Schools (Grades PreK-4)

Central Elementary
36 Pond Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3564
Fax: (501) 843-4503
Eastside Elementary
17 Bellamy Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3563
Fax: (501) 843-5619
Magness Creek Elementary
16150 Arkansas Hwy 5, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3565
Fax: (501) 843-7567
Mountain Springs Elementary
3620 Mountain Springs
Road, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3575
Fax: (501) 605-1300
Northside Elementary
814 West Locust Street,
Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3568
Fax: (501) 843-6032
Southside Elementary
2600 South Pine Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3567
Fax: (501) 843-6229
Stagecoach Elementary
850 South Stagecoach Road,
Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3574
Fax: (501) 605-1221
Ward Central Elementary
1570 Wilson Loop Road,
Ward, AR 72176
(501) 743-3569
Fax: (501) 843-9744
Westside Elementary
1701 South Second Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3566
Fax: (501) 843-5802

High School (Grades 10-12)

Cabot High School
401 North Lincoln Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 843-3562
Fax: (501) 843-4231

Academic Center of Excellence
(Grades 7-12)

Academic Center of Excellence
21 Funtastic Drive, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3520
Fax: (501) 843-0283

Cabot Freshman Academy

Cabot Freshman Academy
18 Spirit Drive, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3576
Fax: (501) 941-1505

Cabot Learning Academy

Cabot Learning Academy
813 West Locust, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3540
Fax: (501) 843-3138

Special Programs

404 North 2nd Street, Cabot, AR 72023
(501) 743-3543
Fax: (501) 941-2613

Central Administrative Office

602 North Lincoln Street, Cabot, AR 72023
(501) 843-3363
Fax: (501)843-0576

Middle Schools (Grades 5-6)

Cabot Middle School North
1900 North Lincoln Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3571
Fax: (501) 605-0413

Cabot Middle School South
2555 Kerr Station Road, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3570
Fax: (501) 941-7432

Junior High Schools
(Grades 7-8)

Cabot Junior High North
38 Spirit Drive, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3572
Fax: (501) 605-8472

Cabot Junior High South
38 Panther Trail, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3573
Fax: (501) 941-7746