NWA Schools Perform Above State Level, Study Says

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Northwest Arkansas schools' performance can be found in one spot after an education report card was released Monday.

It was published by the Office of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas in partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Council.

The Fayetteville School District made the top of the list in testing scores.

"It says a lot about the curriculum that we offer in the Fayetteville Public Schools from K through 12,” said Steve Jacoby, Fayetteville High School principal. “We are really pleased about that and want to see our students continue to grow."

"The real credit goes to our classroom teachers," Jacoby said.

The report card highlights 17 school districts. The “Big 5” includes Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale. The “Rural 10” includes the smaller school districts in Benton and Washington Counties. The study also takes a look at two charter schools Haas Hall Academy and the Benton County School of the Arts.

"Most of our school districts are going to rank at the higher level,” said Michael Crouch, school performance evaluator.

“I suppose you could look at the cream of the cream and say that some of the absolute best school districts are here as well, for example, Haas Hall, and the Bentonville School District," Crouch said.

The report looks at school district demographics, Benchmark exam scores, as well as other tests. It also studies teacher attainment, higher education cost effectiveness, and lottery scholarships.

"How long it takes someone to graduate? What the entering ACT Score for the University of Arkansas, NWACC or JBU, for example," Crouch said.

Crouch said having excellent schools has a trickle-down effect for the overall economy.

"When you hand them the numbers and say look at what we are able to achieve, there's really no fear at that point knowing that we have some of the best schools the country has to offer," Crouch said.

The report cites the relationship between college degrees and the job market. 

"You don't have to look in other places. Businesses can stay right here and find all the people that they need," he said.

Crouch said that schools can use the study to make improvements.

"I hope that districts do use these to look at, 'these are the districts doing well with my type of school, how can I learn from them?'" Crouch said.

Jacoby said that’s what Fayetteville High School will do, especially in the areas of biology and geometry.

"There are two types of schools: those who seek continuous improvement and those who fall behind. Looking at the report there are some areas that we can do better in," Jacoby said.

UA plans to release a statewide education report card in January.

Click here to see the full report.