Education Week released the 17th edition of Quality Counts. The report tracked and graded Arkansas’ 2013 education policy efforts and outcomes and assigned the state a letter grade of a B-. The state’s numerical grade is an 81.7.
Overall, the performance measures indicate that Arkansas students have two huge obstacles to overcome that have little to do with public schools and more to do with their parents' wealth and education. The school districts have balanced those two deficiencies with strong student expectations and the implementation of particular policies to help ensure student success beyond the secondary level.
Arkansas’ grade is just above the national average of C+ or 76.9. Education Week averaged state scores in three areas: Chance for Success, Transition and Alignment and School Finance to average and rank education in each state.
Chance For Success measures family income, parental education and employment, the percentage of children whose parents speak fluent English, the percentages of 3-and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool and the percentage of children enrolled in kindergarten programs. In the Chance for Success category, Arkansas scored a C- or a 71.5.
46.3% of Arkansas children live in families with incomes at least 200% of poverty level. 37.6% of children in the state live with at least one parent who holds a post secondary degree. 69.4% of children live with at least one parent who works full-time year round. 92.1% of the state’s children are raised by parents whose first language is English. 50.3 percent of the state’s eligible toddlers are enrolled in preschool and 77.8% are enrolled in kindergarten.
In the Transition and Alignment category, Arkansas ranked second only to Georgia with a 96.4. (A) The state’s early learning standards are aligned with elementary grade standards, has a formal definition of school readiness, the state requires districts to assess readiness of entering students, and has program for children who don’t meet readiness expectations. Kindergarten learning expectations are aligned with elementary-secondary standards and the state has defined “college readiness.”
Arkansas also required all high school students to take a college prep curriculum to earn a diploma and the course credits required for a diploma are aligned with postsecondary system’s. The high school assessments are also aligned with postsecondary system. Statewide high school assessment results used for admission, placement or scholarship decisions are in the state’s postsecondary system. The state offers high school diplomas with career specializations and the K-12 system has a definition of work readiness. The K-12 system offers a pathway to earn credits to transfer to postsecondary education system and offers a pathway leading to industry-recognized certificate or license.
School Finance measures the relationship between district funding and local property wealth, actual spending as percent of amount needed to bring all students to median level, the amount of disparity in spending across districts, difference in per pupil spending levels. The spending index looks at per pupil spending levels weighted by the degree to which districts meet or approach the national average for expenditures. School Finance also measures the person of total taxable resources spent on education. Arkansas ranked C or 73.7.
source: Education Week