PROGRESS IN THE LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT
(July 2005) Dr. Roy G. Brooks, superintendent of the Little Rock School District, has a plan to make the district “the highest achieving urban school district in the nation.” The plan is an ambitious undertaking that merits praise. Part of the plan to drive education reform in Arkansas’ largest school district is the use of metrics, also used in a 1999 management study that has been largely overlooked in media accounts.
Under Dr. Brooks’ leadership Little Rock has developed a presentation that compares the district to the largest school districts in Arkansas, a group of similar urban districts nationwide, and the highest performing districts in the U.S. The plan, which uses metrics (a standard of measurement) to analyze performance, is posted at the following link:
The plan would compare student performance in Little Rock to other districts. Other action undertaken by Dr. Brooks would result in restructuring of the district’s administrative staff. Administrative restructuring was discussed in a landmark 1999 study of Little Rock.
MGT of America’s 1999 Management Study
In 1999, MGT of America, Inc., a Tallahassee, Florida firm, completed its management study of the Little Rock School District. The study provides the following background for the report:
“(I)n Fall 1998 the Little Rock Alliance For Our Public Schools assembled a Coalition including the Little Rock School District (LRSD), Fifty for the Future, Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, and others. The Coalition was charged with moving the LRSD forward to improve the quality of education for all children served by the district, and, in an effort to do so, called for a management study and an evaluation of the school district’s current financial position.”
MGT of America, Inc., was awarded the contract to conduct the management study in late 1998.
of the K-12 status quo oppose the use of metrics to compare performance
in Little Rock with other districts. The management study was explicit
in calling for their use. “The Request for Proposals (RFP) for this study,”
MGT of America’s analysts noted, “required that this comparison to school
districts in other states be conducted. The RFP observed, “Comparisons
of the Little Rock central office management structure, staffing pattern,
and utilization of positions with such districts should yield valuable
insights and form a basis for determining efficient and effective patterns
that will help improve the LRSD.” The other school districts chosen by
the LRSD (with recommendations provided by MGT of America) for this comparison
were Caddo Parish School Board (Shreveport, Louisiana), Richmond City
Public Schools (Richmond, Virginia), and Savannah-Chatham County Schools
The MGT of America review was perhaps the most comprehensive management study ever conducted in the Little Rock School District. The use of metrics to compare Little Rock with other districts revealed some troubling results. Little Rock, it seemed, had too many administrators.
3.2 Central Office Staffing (1999 review)
• Little Rock falls in the middle in terms of the number of students per classroom teacher at 15.56 students.
• Little Rock has the lowest number of students per assistant principal.
• Little Rock has the lowest number of students per principal as well.
• Little Rock also has the lowest number of students per total building administrators.
3.3 Central Office Organizational Structure (1999 review)
• Only Little Rock has any personnel with the title “Special Assistant to the Superintendent.”
Critics who oppose the use of metrics are critical of accountability within school systems. But it was the use of metrics in the MGT of America study that identified the problem of too many administrators in the Little Rock School District. The use of metrics should be expanded, not ended.
leadership means the Little Rock School District has a leader with a plan
to prepare every student for success in life. The plan represents progress
in the Little Rock School District. The Policy Foundation salutes Dr.
Brooks for his use of metrics, and the district’s administrators, teachers
and support staff who support this vision.