“The most callused aspect of the (Arkansas) education monopoly is that it willingly and deliberately forces children–except those whose parents have wealth–to attend bad schools. And it does so with financial resources taken from parents already struggling financially and at the expense of their ability to choose a better school for their sons and daughters.”  Policy Foundation education report, 1998

 (February 2015) Sixty (60) percent of students at three Little Rock high schools in academic distress1 are less than proficient in the category of literacy, according to results reported by the state Department of Education.2


The following charts shows the national percentile rank of grade 11 students at Hall High School, J.A. Fair H.S. and McClellan H.S. in literacy in 2014:


Literacy Grade 11        %Below Basic        Basic        Proficient        Advanced3
Hall H.S.        18        43        33        6
J.A. Fair H.S.        10        51        35        4
McClellan H.S.        13        47        37        3

Sixty (60) percent of grade 11 students at McClellan were classified in less than proficient categories.  A similar number of Hall and J.A. Fair students-61 percent-were less than proficient, based on March 2014 literacy test results.


The state Board of Education voted January 28 to take over the Little Rock School District.  The Department of Education classified J.A. Fair H.S., Hall H.S., McClellan H.S., and three other Little Rock schools–Baseline Elementary, Cloverdale Middle School, and Henderson M.S.–in academic distress last year, based on poor student performance on state tests.

1 Academic Distress: “This term is used to describe a district that has, for a sustained period of time, demonstrated a lack of student achievement on the state-mandated, norm-referenced, or criterion-referenced tests.”  Arkansas Department of Education, “Definitions of Common Assessment Terms.”

2 Arkansas Department of Education, “Test Scores By Year”


3  The Department of Education uses four categories to describe student achievement: advanced, proficient, basic and below basic.  Definitions are as follows:  Advanced: “Advanced student demonstrate superior performance well beyond proficient grade-level performance. They can apply established skills to solve complex problems and complete demanding tasks on their own.  They can make insightful connections between abstract and concrete ideas and provide well-supported explanations and arguments.”  Proficient: “Proficient students demonstrate solid academic performance for the grade tested and are well prepared for the next level of schooling.  They can use established skills and knowledge to solve problems and complete tasks on their own. Students can tie ideas together and explain the ways their ideas are connected.”  Basic: “Basic students demonstrate partial knowledge and lack skills necessary for the proficient level.”  Below Basic:  “Below basic students fail to show sufficient skills to attain the basic level.”