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Fort Smith Schools are Beating the Odds

Northside, Darby, Sutton and Beard ‘beat the Odds’

OEP Report recognizes high performance growth in schools serving low-income communities

At a Glance

  • Sutton and Beard earn ranking in Top 10 Arkansas ELA Growth Scores.

  • Darby sweeps with Arkansas Top 10 rankings in Overall Growth.

  • Northside earns Top 10 Arkansas standing in the Math Growth Scores.

Fort Smith, AR, June 25, 2018 — Four Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS) ‘beat the odds’ in growth performance according to researchers at the Office of Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

In the introduction of their report researchers noted, “We choose to focus on student growth for these OEP awards because we think it is a better reflection than proficiency rates of how the school is impacting students. Growth is calculated at the student level, and essentially reflects how much a student improved his or her score from the prior year compared to what was predicted based on prior achievement history.”

Sutton and Beard Elementary Schools earned Top 10 rankings in High Poverty Elementary Schools in Arkansas for ACT Aspire ELA Growth scores. These schools also ranked third and fourth respectively in the Northwest Arkansas region.

Darby Junior High School is recognized in the Top 10 Overall of High Poverty Middle Schools in Arkansas for their growth performance on the ACT Aspire and the school earned seventh of the Top 10 Arkansas rankings for growth in performance on the ACT Aspire in Math and 10th in ELA Growth. In the Northwest Arkansas Region, Darby was fourth in the Top Five Schools in Math and fourth in ELA Growth as well.

Northside High School earned a spot in the Top 10 High Poverty Schools in Arkansas based on the ACT Aspire Math Growth, and a number three spot on the top five in Northwest Arkansas. Northside High School Principal Dr. Keri Rathbun said, “We are very proud of the hard work of our students and staff and excited to receive this recognition. We will continue our efforts to increase student achievement in the upcoming school year and beyond.”

Dr. Ginni McDonald, FSPS Director of Secondary Education is also proud of these schools and this data. She said, “This is evidence that the District’s initiatives and support are moving student achievement in the right direction. They are on an upward trajectory. They are performing better than what is expected.” They are simply ‘Beating the Odds’ as this report suggests, said

“Beating the Odds: High Growth Schools Based on the ACT Aspire Examinations serving Low Income Communities” compares 2016 and 2017 ACT Aspire academic assessment scores and provides summaries and access of this and two other growth awards at

In the OEP report on Arkansas Middle Schools, Chaffin Junior High School earned Top 20 Overall placement based on Math and ELA ACT Aspire Growth.

FSPS Superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker discussed the importance of both sets of recognitions. He said, “We know that our teachers make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of kids every day. These results illustrate how their investments of time, effort, and energy are paying dividends in the form of higher student achievement.”

The mission of the Office for Education Policy is to examine educational issues through the lens of academic research and disseminate findings to educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders around Arkansas. OEP annually highlights excellent schools around the state with

Outstanding Educational Performance Awards. This year the OEP Awards highlight schools in Arkansas based on student growth on the ACT Aspire exams in Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA). OEP stated that this is a departure from prior awards, which were based on student proficiency.


About Fort Smith Public Schools

From unmanned aerial systems programming to unforgettable kindergarten trips to the farm, Fort Smith Public Schools provides incredible opportunities and strong instruction for each of the almost 15,000 students in its 19 neighborhood elementary schools, four junior high schools, two senior high schools, one alternative learning center and one adult education center. With nationally recognized schools, students, educators and organizations, Fort Smith Public Schools are always the best choice.

Zena Featherston Marshall