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EDUCATION NOTEBOOK: Lee County district gets Level 5 rating | Jang, Zhan earn academic honor

by Cynthia Howell | May 16, 2021 at 7:49 a.m.

Lee County district gets Level 5 rating

The Arkansas Board of Education last week classified the 617-student Lee County School District as needing Level 5/intensive support, which is the highest level of state support possible under the state's accountability program.

Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key will continue to serve in place of an elected school board in the Marianna-based district.

Willie Murdock has been the superintendent since May and will continue in that role.

The Level 5/intensive support classification is the result of low student achievement, high teacher and administrative turnover, and the need for stronger instruction and a fully implemented curriculum, Stacy Smith, deputy education commissioner, told the state Education Board.

The Lee County district has been operating under state control since March 2019 -- initially because of inaccurate record-keeping on student credits toward graduation and then because of mismanagement of a portion of the district's testing program.

Those violations have been corrected, Smith said, but other problems in regard to achievement and staff turnover have become concerns and require the support of the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Jang, Zhan earn academic honor

Alison Sue-Jeanne Jang of Bentonville, a student at Bentonville High; and Felix Zhan of Fayetteville but listed as a student at Clark High in Las Vegas, are Arkansas' 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

The two were among the 161 high school seniors named last week by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona for accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

The 57th class of Presidential Scholars consists of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts, and 20 scholars in career and technical education.

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