LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A state agency has posted letter grades for Arkansas schools in an effort to fuel conversations for improvement.

The Arkansas Department of Education released its figures Wednesday, which were based on the Every Student Succeeds Act. Arkansas is among 34 states with an approved plan that complies with the law.

The 2017 School Performance Reports show more than 380 schools received a “C” grade and nearly 300 campuses earned a “B.” There were 170 schools that got a “D,” more than 160 that achieved an “A” and more than 30 were given an “F.”

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said the letter grades are intended to “generate conversations at the school and district level.”

“We really tried to make this a tool that drives conversation for improvement rather than a designation to be afraid of,” Key said.

He said the grades aren’t meant to define a school or district.

“It’s an important measure but it’s a snapshot in time of where the schools are in this new school accountability system that is based on data that (school leaders) didn’t know a year ago was going to be used,” Key said.

The report came one day after a National Assessment of Education Progress analysis found a disparity in reading and math scores between black and white students in fourth and eighth grades.

Department spokeswoman Kimberly Friedman said even the state’s highest-scoring schools have room for improvement and that the grading system will be instrumental in gauging progress going forward.

“Even if a school is performing really well in one area, they may need improvement in other areas,” Friedman said.