Overall performance on state exams, as well as racial and ethnic disparities, are educational concerns in Arkansas, while high school graduation rates and adult education levels have been improving.

Passing rates on key state exams are rising, with 37% of 3rd graders proficient in reading (up 2 percentage points) and 44% of 8th graders proficient in math. Still, this means less than half of students are meeting the state’s new expectations, set in 2016 with the adoption of the ACT Aspire exams.

Females outperformed males on both measures, besting boys by 6 points in reading and 4 points in math. Economically disadvantaged students and racial minorities had the lowest passing rates.

High school graduation rates have risen 10 percentage points since 2010, with 87% of the Class of 2016 graduating on time. Performance was also more even across groups, with all groups posting graduation rates of at least 80% and the most growth among English language learners (+19 points), African American (+13 points) and Hispanic (+17 points) students.

However, entering college students show signs of not being fully prepared. In 2016, 42% of first-year students needed a remedial course, and a far larger share (73%), of black students were required to undergo remediation.

Adult education levels are rising, with 85% of Arkansans 25 and older holding at least a high school degree, up 10 percentage points from 2000, and 22% possessing a bachelor’s or higher degree, up 5 points. However, Arkansas lags the nation on these measures: 44th for high school diploma and 49th for bachelor’s. While the share of adults having a least a high school diploma were similar across racial and ethnic groups, there were disparities in those with at least a bachelor’s, 50% for Asian adults compared to 23% of both white and Hispanic and 14% of African American adults.

Grade 3 Reading Increasing
Grade 8 Math Increasing
Graduation Rate Increasing
Remediation Rate Decreasing
Adults with a High School Degree Increasing
Adults with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher Increasing
Infant Mortality Decreasing
Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Overweight or Obese Students Increasing
Student Drug Usage Decreasing
Overweight or Obese Adults Increasing
Physically Inactive Adults Increasing
Smoking Rate Decreasing
Flouridated Water Increasing
Insurance Coverage Rates Increasing
Oral Health Increasing
Life Expectancy Increasing
Routine Check-ups Increasing
Births to Teens Decreasing
Female-headed Households Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Elderly Living in Poverty Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Unemployment Rate Maintaining
Homeownership Rate Decreasing
Child Abuse and Neglect Decreasing
Access to Financial Services Not Applicable
Food Insecurity Decreasing
Incarceration Rate Increasing
Homelessness Decreasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Housing Affordability - Owning Maintaining
Housing Affordability - Renting Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Charitable Giving Maintaining
Volunteering Decreasing
Group Participation Increasing
Connection to Neighbors Decreasing
Local Voting Decreasing
Change in Population Increasing
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Age Not Applicable