Superintendent's Blog

Economic Development & the A-F Grading System

Posted 4/24/2015

*The following letter was sent to members of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce regarding the recently released A-F school grading system.

April 24, 2015

Dear Chamber of Commerce Members,

As business leaders and community members, I know you love and care about our students and school district just as much as I do. I also understand you want to know what’s happening not only in Cabot but across the state, especially when it has to do with our children. 

You may have seen in the news recently, the Arkansas Department of Education released its school performance report cards. For the first time, Arkansas public schools received A-F letter grades. Sound simple? Believe me, it’s anything but simple. In fact, it’s confusing, misleading and very frustrating.

As superintendent of the Cabot School District, I want to assure you that our priority has and always will be to provide an excellent educational opportunity for our students. We have some of the best high-performing schools in the state, top-notch educators leading our children, yet a school rating system that doesn’t make sense at all can take those achievements away unless you truly understand there is much more to this story. 

The A-F letter grade for schools is calculated using an extremely complex formula.  The formula includes: Benchmark/EOC proficiency rates, gaps between non-TAGG and TAGG groups, annual improvement, and graduation rates (if applicable). TAGG stands for Target Achievement Gap Group, which means a student is a member of one of the following subgroups:  Economically Disadvantaged, Students with Disabilities, and English Language Learners. 

According to the 2014 State Report Card, 366 of the state’s 1052 schools were assigned a grade of “C.”  Seven of our schools received a “C” letter grade (4 received A’s, 3 received B’s). Here’s where you’ll start scratching your heads.

It is extremely difficult to understand how a school can receive more funds than any other school in the state from the Arkansas Rewards and Recognition Program and also be rated a “C” school. That’s exactly what happened at Cabot Junior High North! It was recently awarded $111,833.61 for its performance on the 2014 Benchmark and End of Course exams. In total, five of Cabot’s seven “C” schools earned $327,112.68 and were recognized as performing in the Top 10% or Top 20% of schools on the Benchmark and End of Course assessments! 

And that is not all, just about every one of these “C” schools far exceed the state average in math and literacy. For example, Cabot Middle School South’s 5th graders scored 20% higher than the state average in math. Twenty-percent higher! Cabot Middle School North’s 6th graders scored 19% above the state average in math as well; in literacy, they scored 16% higher than the state average.

Still, these schools received a “C” grade. A “C” grade suggests average, and these schools’ records in no way indicate they are performing at an average level. 

School Receiving Letter Grade "C"

School % On Level Literacy

State % On Level Literacy

School % On Level Math

State % On Level Math

Awards, Rewards, Recognition, & Other

Central Elementary

3rd - 81
4th - 86.6

77
84

3rd - 87.3
4th - 77.6

85
82

Title I

Northside

3rd - 71.1
4th - 90.8

77
84

3rd - 86.6
4th - 84.6

85
82

Title I
Top 20 %
$16,377.50

Westside

3rd - 76.4
4th - 83.1

77
84

3rd - 82.0
4th - 78.5

85
82

Title I

Middle North

5th - 87.9
6th - 84.9

82
69

5th - 84.5
6th - 91.2

68
72

AR Diamond School Schools to Watch
Top 10%
$77,073.06

Middle South

5th - 92.9
6th - 82.3

82
69

5th - 88.6
6th - 88

68
72

AR Diamond School Schools to Watch
Top 10%
$69,535.49

Junior North

7th - 81.8
8th - 85.3

77
77

7th - 78.8
8th - 78.6
Alg - 85.3

69
63
75

Top 10%
$111,833.61

Junior South

7th - 83.6
8th - 82

77
77

7th - 70.9
8th - 75.6
Alg - 85.1

69
63
75

Top 20%
$52,293.02

 


Here’s another example that will leave you even more baffled. Three of our elementary schools that received A’s (Stagecoach, Eastside and Mountain Springs), according to the 2014 School Performance Report Card, they were categorized as “Needs Improvement.” What? Needs Improvement? These schools received A’s but the state says they still need improvement? And get this, even though they were listed as “Needs Improvement,” students’ scores ranged from 88.5% to 94.6% proficient in math and literacy and that included scores from students with learning disabilities.

Could you imagine getting an “A” but being told you still need to improve? That does not make sense at all! It is difficult to understand the discrepancies between all these school rating systems. Nothing seems to be consistent except my frustration and I hope you can see where it all stems.

Now, despite this confusing and misleading new grading system, I want you to know that our staff is very proud of our schools and we want you to be as well. We may not be perfect, in fact, we can do even better, but we are certainly not average at all!

We fully understand that the Cabot School District has a huge impact on the economic development and growth of our community. I want to assure you we are doing an outstanding job! Our faculty, staff and students are working hard and it’s disheartening that the state has developed another arbitrary, contradictory, deceiving set of criteria with which to rate them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me any time. My number is 501-843-3363 or you can email me at tony.thurman@cps.k12.ar.us 

Additional information can be found at the following links: 

1.) Report Card page: http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/public-school-accountability/school-performance/report-card

2.) Parents page: http://www.arkansased.gov/im-looking-for/parents

3.) YouTube (Video): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO_a5SM0kwrHZPrzXBa_ZKQ


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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