BY MELANIE BUCK AND LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
All three of Polk County’s school districts received Outstanding Educational Performance Awards from the Office for Education Policy (OEP). Each year OEP examines different issues facing educators in an attempt to provide higher quality of education. In the most recent Arkansas Education Report [AER], schools from across the state were highlighted for their performance in education.
OEP explains, “In the 2015-16 academic year, Arkansas students have yet again undergone a change in their assessment of student performance to replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers (PARCC). The ACT Aspire examinations were administered to students in grades 3 through 10 in Math, Reading, Writing, English, and Science. For the purposes of this report, the scores obtained in Reading, Writing, and English were combined to create a combined ELA score.”
The awards received by Polk County Schools were based on those ELA scores. Cossatot River School District was the recipient of several. Vandervoort Elementary was named one of the top five elementary schools in the Southwest region for their ACT Aspire Performance tests. The elementary school was also recognized as a top five “Beating the Odds,” school, an award given to high achieving schools, based on their ACT Aspire Exams, serving in low income communities.
Wickes Elementary was awarded for their hard work, earning two separate Beating the Odds awards, Southwest Region ELA and Science. Umpire school K-12 were also recipients of the award for their region for beating the odds as well.
In response to the district’s hard work and receiving recognition, Superintendent Donnie Davis, said, “The Cossatot River School District is very proud of each of our schools that received the OEP awards. Our teachers and students have worked very hard and we are proud that their hard work is being recognized.”
Ouachita River School District received several as well. Acorn Elementary School received Southwest Region Math Beating the Odds and Southwest Region Science Beating the Odds. Acorn High School received Southwest Region ELA Beating the Odds and Southwest Region Science Beating the Odds. Oden High School received Southwest Region Math Beating the Odds and Southwest Region Science Beating the Odds.
“Congratulations to our students, teachers, administrators, and staff on their most recent OEP awards,” said ORSD Superintendent Jerry Strasner.
Mena Middle School received seven awards in March, in addition to regional awards given in February. They include, Overall Beating the Odds, which put them 4th in the state, ELA Beating the Odds, 8th in the state, Math Beating the Odds, 1st in the state, Science Beating the Odds, 6th in the state. Mena Middle School was also awarded Southwest Region ELA Beating the Odds, 2nd in the state, Southwest Region Math Beating the Odds, 1st in the state, and Southwest Region Science Beating the Odds, 1st in the State.
In February, Mena Middle School was recognized by OEP as one of the highest-achieving middle schools in Arkansas. At that time, they received four awards: Southwest Region Overall High Achieving, 2nd in the Southwest Region, Southwest Region ELA High Achieving, 2nd in the Southwest Region, Southwest Region Math High Achieving, 1st in the Southwest Region, and Southwest Region Science High Achieving, 2nd in the Southwest Region. Mena Middle School Principal Clifton Sherrer said, “We are so proud of our parents, teachers, and of course our students for these achievements. For our students to achieve this success is a credit to our school, as well as our elementary schools who have developed these student’s foundation. We couldn’t be prouder, Go TEAM Mena!”
Mena High School was also included in the awards list. They received Southwest Region Science High Achieving, to which Principal Shane Torix said, “It is a great honor for our students and teachers alike. It’s not just the Science Department, but all teachers and students worked hard to get this. It’s a great honor for our school.”
To learn more of the county’s awards, you can visit OEP’s website at: www.officeforeducationpolicy.org.