All 262 Arkansas public school systems and 1,050 schools are accredited by the state for the 2020-21 school year that has just ended, with none on probation and none accredited-with-citations.
The Arkansas Board of Education approved the annual school accreditation status report at a meeting in which it also approved another round of more than a dozen school district plans for offering remote, virtual instruction to students in the coming year.
The annual accreditation status report is an indication that schools and districts met state-set standards for operating or had obtained a state waiver of a standard for a period of time.
Act 1240 of 2015, as amended in subsequent years, allows school districts and charter schools to obtain waivers of state laws and rules — including standards for operating — so the accreditation status of districts and schools is not cited for employing teachers out of their area of certification. Schools and districts that have waivers placed on probation are also not cited for failing to comply with requirements such as producing an annual report to the public, teaching a particular high school course, or limiting students per classroom to state maximums.
“This is a really big accomplishment,” state Education Secretary Johnny Key said about Thursday’s clear accreditation report. He attributed it to the state’s system of tracking school data, which he said leads to more rapid identification of violations that can be corrected during the course of the school year.
“It’s not waiting until the end of the year to see what turns red and everybody is scrambling to get it fixed or do overrides or to rush in here to get waivers,” Key said.
More details in Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.