The state Education Department has announced the release of an abbreviated school report card for the 2019-20 school year on account of the school disruptions caused by COVID-19.

In my view, much could be edited from state report cards permanently, beginning with the misleading one-letter grade for schools that depends so much on standardized tests that measure income and family circumstances more than they measure school or student quality.  The grade isn’t being included this year because testing was waived in the last school year.

Advertisement

Education Secretary Johnny Key insists this report still provides “valuable information that can be used to identify best practices and areas that need improvement.” Here are some tips for schools: Enroll as many middle-class kids as possible and try to hold down the number of impoverished, special needs and non-English-speaking students.

The department says the state four-year graduation rate inched up in 2020 from 87.6 percent to 88.8 percent.

Advertisement

The release continues in eduspeak:

To clarify the availability of information, each module in this year’s reports has a colored indicator that reflects data availability. A green indicator means the module is complete; a yellow indicator signifies that some of the data are available; a red indicator means that information is still needed to complete that module, and an orange indicator signifies a COVID-19 disruption and that data are unavailable for the 2019-2020 school year. Also, any value within a module marked as CV indicates a disruption due to COVID and that data are unavailable for the 2019-2020 school year. All available modules will be completed by April 15, 2021. Learn more about the modules at https://bit.ly/3oLbDuP.

 

To access the 2020 School Report Cards, click on the “Report Card” section at the top of the My School Info website: https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov. ADE continues to improve the Report Card and is requesting feedback. Please take the short survey at https://bit.ly/3nEoAVO (English) or https://bit.ly/3oQyRzC (Spanish).

The state insists it must resume testing this year with s a return of the A-F school grading system. It also insists that even students who are learning at home must come to school, COVID or no COVID, to take the standardized test. Parents who’ve schooled children virtually for health reasons are not happy about this or reassured by promises of safety precautions given the thousands of virus cases that have hit students and school employees in every district.

Advertisement

Some parents are simply going to boycott the tests. Students may not be punished for this.

Fayetteville schools demonstrate more concern for health than the state education czar, who appears primarily worried about federal money linked to testing. From KNWA:

While Key announced these in-person tests will be required, Dr. Steven Weber with Fayetteville Schools said otherwise.

“The pandemic’s created some barriers but we are not concerned about a family that chooses not to send their child to a test, much like they haven’t chose to send their child to school this year,” Dr. Weber said.

Dr. Weber said his district plans to give out other assessments, both in -person and online, to make up for a possible lack of students taking the test in-person at the end of the year.