Education




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.

The foundation for a child's education is built early in life with nurturing and enriching interactions with parents and other caregivers. One measure of this is the availability of quality early child care and preschool. Arkansas has the capacity to serve 34% of preschoolers in quality, public programs, and only 10% of infants and toddlers. Arkansas’ Imagination Library program, which provides books for children ages 0 to 5, successfully enrolled 42% of children statewide by 2023, a significant increase from 10% in 2018.

Once children enter school, performance on exams is a measure of learning. Passing rates on key state exams in 2023 were below 2019 pre-pandemic rates, with 32% of 3rd graders proficient in reading and 38% of 8th graders proficient in math. This means less than half of students are meeting the state’s new expectations, set in 2018 with the adoption of the ACT Aspire exams.

Females slightly outperformed males by 3 points in reading and were about par on math. Economically disadvantaged students and racial minorities had the lowest passing rates.

High school graduation rates have risen 4 percentage points from 2012, with 88% of the Class of 2022 graduating on time. Performance was also more even across groups, with all groups posting graduation rates of at least 80%. Growth has been strongest among Hispanic or Latino (+9 points), Asian and Black or African American (both +7 points) and economically disadvantaged (+6 points) students.

However, entering college students show signs of not being fully prepared. In 2022, 35% of first-year students were enrolled in a remedial course, and female students (32%) were more likely to be enrolled in remediation than male students (27%).

Adult education levels are rising, with 88% of Arkansans 25 and older holding at least a high school degree, up 2 percentage points from 2013-17 and up 13 percentage points from 2000. Those possessing a bachelor’s or higher degree (25%) increased 3 percentage points from 2013-17 and up 8 points from 2000. However, Arkansas lags the nation on these measures: 42nd for high school diploma and 49th for a bachelor’s degree. The share of adults having at least a high school diploma were higher among white (90%), Black or African American (87%), and Asian adults (87%), than Hispanic (62%) adults and there were disparities among those with at least a bachelor’s: 50% for Asian adults compared to 26% of white and 12% of Hispanic and 18% of African American adults.

For those adults without a post-secondary degree, some continue to work toward one. In 2022, 2.6% of Arkansas' working-age adults were enrolled in further education, down from 5.1% in 2012 (a decrease of roughly 26,300 adults in terms of enrollment).





INDICATORS TREND | STATE
Education: Access to Quality Seats for Infants and Toddlers Not Applicable
Education: Access to Quality Childcare Seats for Preschoolers Not Applicable
Education: Grade 3 Reading Decreasing
Education: Grade 8 Math Maintaining
Education: Graduation Rate Increasing
Education: Remediation Rate Maintaining
Education: Adults with a High School Degree Increasing
Education: Adults with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher Increasing
Education: Adults Pursuing Further Education Decreasing
Education: Imagination Libraries Increasing
Health: Low Birth Weight Babies Not Applicable
Health: Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Health: Overweight or Obese Students Increasing
Health: Overweight or Obese Adults Increasing
Health: Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Health: Smoking Rate Decreasing
Health: Insurance Coverage Rates Increasing
Health: Oral Health Increasing
Health: Life Expectancy Decreasing
Health: Routine Check-ups Increasing
Health: Overdose Deaths Increasing
Families: Teen Births Decreasing
Families: Children Living in Poverty Maintaining
Families: People Living in Poverty Maintaining
Families: Elderly Living in Poverty Maintaining
Families: Median Household Income Maintaining
Families: Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Families: Homeownership Rate Decreasing
Families: Child Abuse and Neglect Decreasing
Families: Access to Financial Services Decreasing
Families: Food Insecurity Decreasing
Families: Food Deserts Not Applicable
Families: Homelessness Decreasing
Families: Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Families: Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Families: Households Below ALICE Threshold Not Applicable
Families: Overall Housing Cost Burden Decreasing
Families: Child Care Costs for Toddlers Not Applicable
Families: Medical Debt Not Applicable
Families: Households Receiving SNAP Decreasing
Families: Incarceration Rate Increasing
Community: Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Community: Charitable Giving Increasing
Community: Volunteering Increasing
Community: Group Participation Increasing
Community: Connection to Neighbors Decreasing
Community: Local Voting Not Applicable
Demographics: Change in Population Increasing
Demographics: Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Demographics: Change in Population by Age Not Applicable
Racial Equity: Remediation Rate Maintaining
Racial Equity: Adults with a High School Degree Increasing
Racial Equity: Adults with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher Increasing
Racial Equity: Adults Pursuing Further Education Decreasing
Racial Equity: Low Birth Weight Babies Not Applicable
Racial Equity: Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Racial Equity: Overweight or Obese Students Increasing
Racial Equity: Overweight or Obese Adults Increasing
Racial Equity: Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Racial Equity: Smoking Rate Decreasing
Racial Equity: Insurance Coverage Rates Increasing
Racial Equity: Oral Health Increasing
Racial Equity: Life Expectancy Decreasing
Racial Equity: Routine Check-ups Increasing
Racial Equity: Teen Births Decreasing
Racial Equity: Children Living in Poverty Maintaining
Racial Equity: People Living in Poverty Maintaining
Racial Equity: Elderly Living in Poverty Maintaining
Racial Equity: Median Household Income Maintaining
Racial Equity: Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Racial Equity: Homeownership Rate Decreasing
Racial Equity: Child Abuse and Neglect Decreasing
Racial Equity: Food Insecurity Decreasing
Racial Equity: Homelessness Decreasing
Racial Equity: Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Racial Equity: Medical Debt Not Applicable
Racial Equity: Households Receiving SNAP Decreasing
Racial Equity: Incarceration Rate Increasing
Racial Equity: Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable








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