University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

ForwARd Arkansas Report Released

In The View from the OEP on January 28, 2015 at 12:58 pm


Yesterday, ForwARd Arkansas  released The State of Education in Arkansas, which provides a well-organized overview of key education indicators in our state.

The report highlights several key findings:

  • Arkansas has improved access to education and increased participation in higher-level educational activities
    • Pre-K access for 3-and 4-year-olds ranks 18th nationally
    • Above average high school graduation rate of 84%
    • Large increases in AP Exam and ACT participation
    • College-going rate of 65% in the top 20 nationally
  • Arkansas has established policies and procedures that should support improved student outcomes
    • Arkansas has implemented the Common Core over the past 4 years
    • Arkansas is recognized as a leader in Principal and Teacher Licensure and Training
    • Per-pupil expenditure has increased and is near national average
  • Student outcomes are currently below aspirations across the state
    • Arkansas ranks in the bottom 20 states on the NAEP math and literacy exams
    • Only 20% of students taking the ACT met college-ready benchmarks in all four subjects
    • Almost 50% of college freshmen require remedial coursework
    • Although college-going rates are high, on time college graduation rates are 48th nationally
  • Arkansas’ achievement gap persists despite recent gains
    • Achievement gaps in reading and math, as measured by NAEP, have narrowed since 2005
    • School performance is closely related to location in the state, although there are high performing schools in every region

This report is one of several data sources ForwARd will use to develop a comprehensive plan to improve education Arkansas.  If you would like to contribute to the conversation you can complete ForwARd Arkansas’ online survey.

We at the OEP applaud ForwARd Arkansas for releasing this report on the state of education in Arkansas! Understanding the lay of the land is an essential first step in formulating meaningful solutions, and we look forward to seeing the innovative ideas ForwARd Arkansas proposes in the near future.

About ForwARd Arkansas:

ForwARd Arkansas is a partnership of education, business, government and civil society professionals committed to improving public education in Arkansas.  ForwARd is organized by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Walton Family Foundation and Arkansas Board of Education, and advised by The Boston Consulting Group (research and strategic planning), Eric Rob &Isaac (web and report development), and The Peacock Group (communications).


  1. That survey was one of the most biased I’ve ever seen, and I don’t trust any findings from it. Could the OEP do an item-by-item analysis of the survey questions and reveal what, if any, thinly veiled agenda exists?

    • Hi Chris, this is Jennifer from the OEP. In response to your comment, a few OEP members took the Arkansas ForwARd survey as a community member. While we do think it is important to be cautious of interpreting results from a survey that is not given to a representative sample of a population, we think the survey questions themselves were reasonable. The survey seems to seek to gather information on people’s views on the purpose of education, what reform efforts (if any) they would support, and their perception of their public schools’ test score performance. This last question is particularly interesting to us, since the survey also collects information on the respondent’s local school district. We look forward to seeing the results, as it will be interesting to see how closely people’s perceptions of their school district’s performance match up with reality.

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