LITTLE ROCK — The state Board of Education voted Thursday to remove 10 schools and one school district from academic-distress status.
Removed from the classification were Pine Bluff High School, Belair Middle School and Watson Chapel High School, all in Pine Bluff; Jacksonville Middle School; Little Rock Preparatory Academy, J.A. Fair High School and McClellan Magnet High School all in Little Rock; Dermott High School; Mineral Springs High School; Blytheville High School; and the Blytheville School District.
The board previously labeled the schools and the district as academically distressed after at least 49.5 percent of their students failed to score at proficient or advanced levels on standardized math and literacy tests over a three-year period.
The schools and the district have seen improvement in their students’ performance, according to state education officials.
Also Thursday, the board granted waiver extensions to 12 school districts in southeastern Arkansas to allow them to continue hiring nonlicensed teachers.
The Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative made the request on behalf of the school districts, which it serves, under Act 1240 of 2015, which allows a district to petition the board for all or some of the waivers granted to charter schools serving students who live in the district.
Receiving the waiver extensions are the Cleveland County, Crossett, Dermott, DeWitt, Drew Central, Dumas, Hamburg, Hermitage, Lakeside, Monticello, Star City and Warren school districts. The cooperative requested the extensions because of continuing difficulties in hiring licensed teachers.
The board also granted a waiver request from the Greenwood School District under Act 1240. The district requested a waiver of the state standard that requires a course to meet for at least 120 hours to qualify for a unit of credit.
In the fall, the district plans to launch the Bulldog Learning Academy, where students will progress at their own pace.