The State Board of Education, during its regular monthly meeting on Monday, January 10, 2000, approved the final revisions to the Standards for Accreditation of Arkansas Public Schools. The Standards were originally adopted by the State Board in 1984, and became effective in 1987. The Standards were first revised in 1993. However, the Board's revisions to the Standards during this month's meeting serve only to make the Standards reflect existing laws, rules and regulations, and previous State Board of Education actions.
Following Monday's meeting, published reports about the revisions made to the Standards have proven to be a source of confusion for the general public and public school educators. The reports stated that the Board had dropped the required competency tests for students in Grades 3, 6 and 8. This statement is not erroneous, but is somewhat misleading. The deletion of the required competency tests for students in Grades 3, 6 and 8 refers specifically to the state's Minimum Performance Test (MPT). Arkansas has not administered the MPT since the early 1990s.
This change in the Standards does not impact the state's criterion-referenced tests (CRTs), which are still required as part of the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment, and Accountability Program (ACTAAP). As revised and adopted by the Board, the wording in the Standards now reads as follows: "Schools shall be responsible for assessing each student's progress at each grade level in acquiring mastery of the competencies, skills, and other subjects required by law and Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment, and Accountability Program (ACTAAP) regulations."
The CRTs that are part of ACTAAP are the Primary Benchmark Exam (Grade 4); Intermediate Benchmark Exam (Grade 6); Middle Level Benchmark Exam (Grade 8); and End-of-Course exams for Algebra I, Geometry, and Literacy. The state will still administer the Stanford Achievement Test, Ninth Edition (SAT9), which is a norm-referenced test. The SAT9 will be given to students in Grades 5, 7 and 10.
The revised Standards, in its entirety, will be posted on the Department's Web page as soon as possible.