Mammoth Spring Schools honored by state for excellence

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mammoth Spring Schools have recently been recognized by the state for academic excellence.

The Arkansas Department of Education announced in December that the local schools will benefit from the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program. The program, established by the General Assembly, recognizes schools for their high student performance, student academic growth, and high graduation rate. Of the schools that are being recognized, Mammoth Spring Elementary School ranks in the top 10 percent and Mammoth Spring High School ranks in the top 20 percent.

Schools that fall in the top 10 percent are awarded $100 per student in a qualifying school, and those who fall in the 11 to 20 percent range are awarded $50 per student. Under the latest round of awards, almost $7 million is going to 206 Arkansas schools, 108 were in the top 10 percent and 98 in the 11 to 20 percent category.

"I think that it is great that they are able to recognize schools academically like this," said Mammoth Spring Superintendent David Turnbough. "I think that it means a lot to our teachers and students, I sincerely hope they continue it." At the present time, the school district is unaware of the exact amount of money that it will receive.

The schools that are being honored are required to spend the reward funding in one of three ways: for personnel costs, such as non-recurring bonuses to faculty and staff, contracted services, hiring temporary personnel to assist, maintain, and improve student performance or on supplies and materials.

To make the decision, a committee compromised of the principal, a teacher elected by the faculty and a parent representative will make the decision as to how the funds are used. "We are still in the process of being approved for the money," said Turnbough. "But the committee has decided to use it to give a bonus to the faculty and staff."

"Our goal this year is to keep improving," said Turnbough. "Graduation rate is an emphasis every year, and we are also doing our best to prepare our students for yearly testing." This year, Arkansas schools are transitioning from their regular Arkansas Benchmark Exam to the Common Core State Standards Assessment. Students will be taking both tests; the Arkansas Benchmark Exam scores will be counted, while the Common Core Standards Assessment will be taken as a field test.

Mammoth Spring schools have also won other academic awards this year, according to Turnbough. The students are kept motivated in an interesting way. At the beginning of each year, they rank themselves with other surrounding Arkansas schools to see where they can improve. "They've done really well and worked very hard. We want them to take pride in that fact," said Turnbough.

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