- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas education board has removed two school districts from an academic distress list based on improved state test results.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1zcmXit ) reports the board on Thursday lifted the label from the Lee County and Strong-Huttig school districts. The panel also took six individual schools off the list.

The districts and schools showed improvement on state math and literacy exams from 2012 through 2014, with more than 49.5 percent of their students scoring at proficient levels.

The board also classified 22 schools as academically distressed at their meeting Thursday. Fewer than 49.5 percent of those schools’ students had proficient level marks on the Benchmark and End of Course exams over three years.

Willie Murdock, superintendent of the Lee County School District, said her 827-student district now has the possibility of “getting our voice back” in the form of a locally elected school board.

Education Board members asked that the topic of Lee County’s possible release from state control be added to the agenda for their March meeting.

State Education Board member Jay Barth said he has concerns about releasing the district from state supervision without assurances that it is in a stable fiscal position. Sharing those same concerns, board chairman Sam Ledbetter said, “I’d like to get some understanding…so we have confidence that they are on the right track.”

The Strong-Huttig district was declared in distress at the same time as Lee County, but was not controlled by the state.

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

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