- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Department of Education will continue posting public schools’ letter grades online, but the department is adjusting the A through F grading formula because of a change in student tests and the addition of “challenge points.”

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1Ls2cWs ) reports that the board has approved revised “emergency” rules for the school-rating system and for the state’s school recognition and award system, both of which are required by state laws.

These rules were revised because of last school year’s switch to the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests.

Both sets of emergency rules are scheduled to go to a legislative review committee next month for final approval. They will be revised again after the state gives another new testing program, the ACT Aspire exams, later this school year.

Once the rules receive the final approval from lawmakers, schools eligible for high achievement or academic growth will be identified and invited to submit proposals for how they intent to spend any rewards they receive.

Additionally, when the rules receive legislative approval, the A-through-F letter grade for each school will be calculated. The performance reports are scheduled to go online April 15.

Annette Barnes, Arkansas Department of Education’s assistant commissioner for public school accountability, said that in a change from the past, the letter grade will be displayed on the first page of the online report for each school as opposed to several pages into the school’s online report.

The newly revised formula contains as many as four components, including a weighted performance score based on student achievement on the new tests last spring and a growth score. Other factors, such as graduation rates, can also be included in the calculation.

For the first time, schools can receive up to three challenge points for math achievement and three more for literacy test achievement.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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