Exit Criteria: Good Enough for Schools, Good Enough for Administrators

In 2018, the Arkansas Department of Education announced exit criteria for Level 5 – Intensive Support school districts in state control because of academics.

In short, the qualitative measures for the Little Rock School District’s eight ‘F’ schools call for evidence of collaboration among educators, consistent use of specific instructional practices and employee evaluation systems, adherence to state education standards, and management of resources to support teachers and increase student achievement

In other words, the inputs. Best practices. Blocking and tackling.

The quantitative measures call for each of the district’s eight ‘F’ schools to:

  • Achieve an 80 or better on Value Added Growth score (80 signifies that students at a school, on average, made as much academic growth in the current school year as they did in the last)
  • Have a majority of students achieving at “Close,” “Ready” or “Exceeds” on the ACT Aspire and ACT, instead of a majority “In Need of Improvement.”

In other words, the results. Simply grow as much as you did the year before (no matter how low that may have been), and don’t have a majority of students needing improvement.

All-in-all, a very low bar.

Here’s how the district stands today in regard to exiting from state control:

Little Rock currently has eight ‘F’ schools. From 2016-17 to 2018-19, only one – Hall – improved its Value Added Growth score: +0.29 to 80.22.

  • Bale declined -0.49 to 76.74
  • Romine declined -3.21 to 74.98
  • Stephens declined -1.04 to 75.04
  • Washington declined -5.8 to 75.06
  • Cloverdale declined -2.26 to 76.81
  • Fair declined -2.01 to 75.11
  • McClellan declined -0.45 to 78.45

As for percentage of students “In Need of Improvement” on the latest ACT Aspire:

  • Bale
    • English 14.9%
    • Math 31.5%
    • Science 67.1%
    • Reading 57.3%
  • Romine
    • English 12.6%
    • Math 25.2%
    • Science 57%
    • Reading 58.5%
  • Stephens
    • English 14.7%
    • Math 34.9%
    • Science 66.8%
    • Reading 62.4%
  • Washington
    • English 14.2%
    • Math 32%
    • Science 75.5%
    • Reading 67.5%
  • Cloverdale
    • English 24.7%
    • Math 57.3%
    • Science 71.2%
    • Reading 66.8%
  • Fair
    • English 52.9%
    • Math 85.1%
    • Science 82.4%
    • Reading 76.4%
  • Hall
    • English 61.7%
    • Math 87.2%
    • Science 82.7%
    • Reading 81.7%
  • McClellan
    • English 49.2%
    • Math 84.9%
    • Science 78.3%
    • Reading 73.3%

None meet nor are even close to the exit criteria.

Director of K-12 Literacy

If these minimal exit criteria are good enough for schools, they should also be relevant when determining administrators’ exits from or entries to positions.

The new Director of K-12 Literacy was the seven-year principal at Chicot Elementary.

From 2016-17 to 2018-19, Chicot’s Value Added Growth score improved +7.05, from 75.62 to 82.67.

But its 2019 percentages of students “In Need of Improvement” on the latest ACT Aspire were:

  • English 13.5%
  • Math 23.3%
  • Science 62.6%
  • Reading 56.7%

So in Reading, after seven years, a majority of the new head of literacy’s students aren’t close, meeting or exceeding, but rather, are in need of improvement.

Executive Director of Elementary Education

The new Executive Director of Elementary Education is the 14-year principal of Mabelvale Elementary School.

From 2016-17 to 2018-19, Mabelvale’s Value Added Growth score declined -2.6, from 80 to 77.4.

And its 2019 percentages of students “In Need of Improvement” on the latest ACT Aspire were:

  • English 11.3%
  • Math 22.5%
  • Science 65.9%
  • Reading 61.5%

So in both Value Added Growth and two of four subjects, the new head of Elementary Education would not meet exit criteria if his school were an ‘F,’ which based on his latest scores, likely will be when school grades are released in October. It was only 0.53 away last year.


The district’s average Value Added Growth score declined from 80.35 in 2017 to 79.39 in 2018 for a -0.94 loss.

And its 2019 percentages of students “In Need of Improvement” on the latest ACT Aspire were:

  • English 16.4%
  • Math 34.8%
  • Science 51.9%
  • Reading 45.4%

In 2017, the district had 18 schools above 80.

In 2018, the district had 14 schools above 80, a decline of four schools.

Ten schools improved their Value Added Growth scores in 2018, which means 30 declined.

But of course, adults are never held to the same criteria as are students and schools under their watch. Until they are, no district will emerge.

If you’re wondering why we’re so far into the personnel weeds, it’s because, after four years and five months of state control, students have been left with no margin for error. And only time will tell if non-data-supported leadership decisions will work or not.

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