LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Nearly 880 public schools in Arkansas were classified as needing improvement because they didn't meet their achievement goals on state exams.
The annual accountability report by the state's education department was released Tuesday. Eighty-four more schools than last year were categorized as needing improvement.
The state doesn't penalize such schools, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1y34Co0 ) reported, though those that need the most improvement must develop plans to get there.
Out of more than 1,000 public schools, only 67 were categorized as "achieving" schools, down from 137 last year.
The report says 85 schools will stay classified as "focus-needs improvement" schools, because of the achievement gap among their students.
Almost 40 schools will remain as "priority-needs improvement." They were among the lowest 5 percent of schools in terms of achievement in 2011.
The only public school in Arkansas to achieve "exemplary" status this year was Bergman High School in Boone County in northern Arkansas. In 2013, there were nine exemplary schools.
"I'm not sure there is a secret to it," Bergman Superintendent Joe Couch said. "Districtwide, we have made a commitment to do everything we can for every kid every day."
Lakeside High School in Chicot County, which is in southeastern Arkansas, was the only school to be removed from the priority-needs improvement list. For two consecutive years, the school met achievement targets and graduation rate requirements. It now is designated as an achieving school.
The school's principal, Linda Armour, attributed the new status to the hard work by staff members and students.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com