Academic Achievement

Student performance in Arkansas is below average. Eighth graders stand 6 percentage points below the national average in the percentage at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam. The national average is 34%.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Arkansas earns a mediocre grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Thirty-one percent of Hispanic 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam. The national average is 26%.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Arkansas is low relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

Arkansas posts below average marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Arkansas earns an average grade in preparing its students for college and careers with only 16 students out of 100 passing an AP exam. 

21st Century Teacher Force

Arkansas does a good job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The Natural State does well expanding the pool of qualified teachers.

Parental Options

Arkansas does a poor job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state’s charter school law does not permit independent authorizers, making it difficult for new schools to open. 

Data Quality

Arkansas earns an excellent grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data, one of only two states to meet all 10 action items judged by the Data Quality Campaign study as indicative of effective data use.   


Arkansas receives a poor grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. Students have limited access to high-quality digital content. 

International Competitiveness

Arkansas earns a low grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy, with only 9 students out of 1,000 passing an AP foreign language exam.

Fiscal Responsibility

Arkansas receives average marks on fiscal responsibility. About 70% of the state’s pension is funded, and the state’s most recent pension contribution was less than 100%.