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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 86% of Arkansans 25 and older holding at least a high school degree, up 11 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 white, 24% of Hispanic and 15% of African American adults.
|INDICATORS||TREND | STATE|
|Grade 3 Reading||Increasing|
|Grade 8 Math||Increasing|
|Adults with a High School Degree||Increasing|
|Adults with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher||Increasing|
|Early Prenatal Care||Increasing|
|Overweight or Obese Students||Maintaining|
|Student Drug Usage||Decreasing|
|Overweight or Obese Adults||Increasing|
|Physically Inactive Adults||Increasing|
|Insurance Coverage Rates||Increasing|
|Births to Teens||Decreasing|
|Children Living in Poverty||Increasing|
|People Living in Poverty||Increasing|
|Elderly Living in Poverty||Decreasing|
|Median Household Income||Maintaining|
|Child Abuse and Neglect||Decreasing|
|Access to Financial Services||Maintaining|
|Change in Total Jobs||Maintaining|
|Housing Affordability - Owning||Maintaining|
|Housing Affordability - Renting||Increasing|
|Voter Participation Rate||Increasing|
|Connection to Neighbors||Decreasing|
|Change in Population||Increasing|
|Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Change in Population by Age||Not Applicable|