The state Education Department today announced the list of 175 schools that will share in $6.7 million in “recognition” awards for high student test scores in grades 3-10.

Some awards are based on growth in student scores, as opposed to raw scores. The score-only standard tends to favor higher income, lower minority schools. The top five money recipients this year, for example, were three schools in Bentonville, one in Bryant and one in Little Rock. The black enrollment at these schools was in single digits, except 21 percent at Roberts Elementary in Little Rock. The percentage qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch (a measure of family income) ranged from 9 percent to 43 percent at Roberts.

Statewide, school enrollment is 20 percent black and 63 percent qualify for lunch subsidies.

Here’s the complete list of winning schools and reward amounts.


Michael Mills, a UCA education professor, analyzed these rewards extensively last year and showed that they go disproportionately to white and higher-income populations.

Give Arkansas credit for consistency. Single-letter school grades under the state formula also track race and poverty. What’s more, the formula for handing out college scholarship money produced by the Arkansas Lottery also favors white, higher-income students.