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Eight LRSD schools receive 'F' letter grades following ACT Aspire tests

Last spring's state-required ACT Aspire test results show eight of Little Rock School District's 40 schools will receive "F" letter grades.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Last spring's state-required ACT Aspire test results show eight of the Little Rock School District's 40 schools will receive "F" letter grades. The ratings will be one of the leading factors used by the state when it reconstitutes the district early next year after five years of control by the Arkansas Dept. of Education.

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The 'F' schools include J.A.Fair, Hall, and McClellan high schools, along with Watson, Baseline, Meadowcliff, Washington elementary schools, and Henderson Middle School.

The state board passed a framework last month that would return a locally elected nine-member school committee in 2020. The plan places schools in three categories. Schools with at least a "D" will be run by the new board. A second category will include schools that are in transition, while a third group would be made up of failing schools. The framework would continue state support for those schools and could include designating outside management to run them.

The state took over the district in 2015 after six schools fell into academic distress. The move dissolved the local board and placed education secretary Johnny Key in charge. Since the takeover, the rating system was changed and placed the annual ACT Aspire scores as the overriding evaluation tool. Using that system showed eight schools as failing in 2018. 

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Four of this year's failing schools were on the list last year: J.A. Fair, Hall, McClellan and Washington.

The Little Rock School District preliminary grades for the 2018-19 school year are based on multiple factors, including results on the spring 2019 ACT Aspire exams, as well as improvement on those tests over time.

Critics of the state board's framework say the schools that will remain under state control are in majority-minority areas and would represent a "re-segregation" of the district. They fault Key for failing to improve the number of schools with "F" grades under his watch.

Now that the grades have been announced, debate over how the schools are categorized is expected to be heated when the state board takes up the issue at its next meeting Oct. 10th.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R - AR) announced his support for the framework, emphasizing that the transitioning category 2 schools should also be handed over to the new local board. If approved, that would mean six of the eight failing schools would be locally controlled.

LRSD 2019 grades

Bale Ele - D

Baseline Elementary - F

Booker Arts Magnet Ele - D

Brady Elementary - D

Carver Magnet Ele - C

Central High - C

Chicot Elementary - D

Cloverdale Middle - D

David O. Dodd Ele - D

Don Roberts Ele - A

Dunbar Magnet Middle - D

Forest Heights Stem Aca - A

Forest Park Ele - A

Fulbright Elementary - B

Gibbs Magnet Ele - A

Hall High - F

Henderson Middle - F

J.A. Fair High - F

Jefferson Elementary - A

M.L. King Magnet Ele - D

Mabelvale Elementary - D

Mabelvale Middle - D

Mann Magnet Middle - C

McClellan Magnet High - F

McDermott Elementary - D

Meadowcliff Elementary - F

Otter Creek Ele - C

Parkview Magnet High - C

Pinnacle View Middle - A

Pulaski Heights Ele - B

Pulaski Heights Middle - C

Rockefeller Incentive Ele - D

Romine Elementary - D

Stephens Elementary - D

Terry Elementary - C

Wakefield Elementary - C

Washington Magnet Ele - F

Watson Elementary - F

Western Hills Ele - D

Williams Magnet Ele - B