Academic distress

During a discussion about how the ADE handles schools on academic distress, board member Sam Ledbetter of Little Rock said the state needs to take a stronger stance. As an example, he cited middle schools in Little Rock, which he described as among those with poor performance. He said the state’s efforts need to be more focused. There are no school districts in academic distress now. Dr. Kimbrell said the state could re-evaluate the standard that classifies a district as being in academic distress, which is 75 percent or more of students performing at below basic levels. Kimbrell sought suggestions from the State Board. Brenda Gullett of Fayetteville suggested not letting football teams play if the school’s academics dip to a certain level. Board vice chair Jim Cooper of Mountain Home asked Dr. Kimbrell that ADE staff draft rules for the board to review. Kimbrell said that the bottom 5 percent schools in the state labeled as being eligible for federal school improvement grants could also be labeled as being in fiscal distress. He said some superintendents would be happy to turn over low-performing schools to the state. He said that’s something the state might have to consider doing. Cooper asked for school administrators to be prepared to offer comments to the proposed rules.

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