Here’s How Arkansas Students Compare to Nation and Arkansas Districts Compare to Each Other

Arkansas Learns was privileged to sponsor, attend and present at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas annual Door-to-Door meetings.

The gatherings, typically hosted by local/regional chambers of commerce in Arkansas’s larger communities, focused on Arkansas’s business competitiveness, particularly in regard to “touch states.” Arkansas Learns’ presentations centered on K-12 education as the beginning and bulk of the workforce talent pipeline. To that end, the latest statewide performance data was shared, along with how the respective communities’ school districts fared under the state’s accountability measures.


On the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Arkansas performed among the lowest quartile in the nation.

  • 4th Grade Reading – 32% Proficient (Tied 38th in Nation)
  • 4th Grade Math – 32% Proficient (Tied 44th in Nation)
  • 8th Grade Reading – 27% (Tied 44th in Nation)
  • 8th Grade Math – 25% (Tied 42nd in Nation)

While NAEP scores have long been dismissed by some in education circles as only a statewide sample, Arkansas’s scores proved prescient when compared to statewide performance on last year’s PARCC assessment:

  • 3rd Grade ELA (English Language Arts) – 29% Proficient
  • 3rd Grad Math – 31% Proficient
  • 4th Grade ELA – 34% Proficient
  • 4th Grade Math – 24% Proficient
  • 5th Grade ELA – 32% Proficient
  • 5th Grade Math – 24% Proficient
  • 6th Grade ELA – 33% Proficient
  • 6th Grade Math – 25% Proficient
  • 7th Grade ELA – 35% Proficient
  • 7th Grade Math – 22% Proficient
  • 8th Grade ELA – 32% Proficient
  • 8th Grade Math – 17% Proficient

While district-, school-, student-level PARCC scores are not yet available to the public, it’s important to note that based on previous years’ Benchmark and End-of-Course Exams, Arkansas graded itself as follows on its state-centric tests:

  • 3rd – 8th Grades Math – 72% Proficient
  • 3rd – 8th Grades Literacy – 78% Proficient
  • 9th – 11th Grades Algebra – 75% Proficient
  • 9th – 11th Grades Geometry – 74% Proficient
  • 9th – 11th Grades Literacy – 72% Proficient
  • 9th – 11th Grades Biology – 47% Proficient

When national assessments reflect that less than a third of Arkansas students are proficient in Math and Literacy, but the state’s assessment shows 3/4 are proficient, Arkansas’s proficiency inflation has failed a generation of students, families and communities, rendering increased graduation rates virtually meaningless.

School Districts

What follows, using the State’s major accountability markers, are how the local school districts on the State Chamber’s Door-to-Door tour compare to each other, as well as the first and last district in each category.

Benchmark Exam – Math
Valley View – 90% (1st)
Helena-West Helena – 40% (248th – Last)

School District% ProficientStatewide Rank
Bentonville86%8th (Tied)
Fayetteville82%26th (Tied)
Conway81%35th (Tied)
Rogers81%35th (Tied)
Batesville77%72nd (Tied)
Searcy77%72nd (Tied)
Springdale77%72nd (Tied)
Russellville74%107th (Tied)
Fort Smith72%123rd (Tied)
Hot Springs70%147th (Tied)
El Dorado70%147th (Tied)
Van Buren70%147th (Tied)
West Memphis68%171st (Tied)
Magnolia66%185th (Tied)
Jonesboro65%189th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special63%207th (Tied)
Texarkana61%219th (Tied)
Little Rock59%226th (Tied)
North Little Rock59%226th (Tied)
Pine Bluff46%241st (Tied)

Benchmark Exam – Literacy
Valley View – 93% (1st)
Forrest City – 49% (249th – Last)

School District% ProficientStatewide Rank
Bentonville88%14th (Tied)
Rogers88%14th (Tied)
Conway85%33rd (Tied)
Fayetteville85%33rd (Tied)
Searcy83%56th (Tied)
Rogers81%35th (Tied)
Batesville81%79th (Tied)
Russellville79%79th (Tied)
Springdale79%109th (Tied)
Fort Smith78%127th (Tied)
El Dorado77%139th (Tied)
West Memphis76%154th (Tied)
Van Buren74%177th (Tied)
Hot Springs73%187th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special73%187th (Tied)
Jonesboro69%209th (Tied)
Magnolia68%216th (Tied)
Texarkana68%216th (Tied)
North Little Rock68%216th (Tied)
Little Rock65%228th (Tied)
Pine Bluff57%241st (Tied)
Blytheville51%246th (Tied)

End-of-Course Exam – Algebra
Searcy County – 100% (1st)
Dierks – 31% (245th – Last)

School District% ProficientStatewide Rank
Bentonville88%29th (Tied)
Russellville87%38th (Tied)
Fayetteville86%42nd (Tied)
Conway85%49th (Tied)
Searcy85%49th (Tied)
Rogers84%57th (Tied)
Springdale80%84th (Tied)
Batesville79%94th (Tied)
Van Buren77%103rd (Tied)
West Memphis73%131st (Tied)
Fort Smith72%138th (Tied)
Jonesboro69%153rd (Tied)
Texarkana67%166th (Tied)
Magnolia66%173rd (Tied)
North Little Rock66%176th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special64%180th (Tied)
El Dorado60%195th (Tied)
Little Rock59%198th (Tied)
Hot Springs47%229th (Tied)
Blytheville45%233rd (Tied)
Pine Bluff45%233rd (Tied)

End-of-Course Exam – Geometry
Viola – 100% (1st)
Earle – 21% (245th – Last)

School District% ProficientStatewide Rank
Bentonville90%22nd (Tied)
Fayetteville90%22nd (Tied)
Russellville85%44th (Tied)
Springdale84%50th (Tied)
Conway83%59th (Tied)
Batesville83%59th (Tied)
Rogers79%86th (Tied)
Van Buren74%126th (Tied)
Magnolia72%138th (Tied)
Fort Smith70%152nd (Tied)
El Dorado68%169th (Tied)
West Memphis68%169th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special64%184th (Tied)
Jonesboro63%186th (Tied)
Hot Springs61%196th (Tied)
North Little Rock61%196th (Tied)
Texarkana58%206th (Tied)
Little Rock54%211th (Tied)
Pine Bluff44%232nd (Tied)
Blytheville35%242nd (Tied)

End-of-Course Exam – Literacy
Searcy County – 94% (1st)
Earle – 23% (244th – Last)

School District% ProficientStatewide Rank
Bentonville92%6th (Tied)
Searcy85%21st (Tied)
Fayetteville82%38th (Tied)
Russellville81%45th (Tied)
Conway80%58th (Tied)
Rogers79%66th (Tied)
Springdale79%66th (Tied)
Magnolia79%66th (Tied)
Batesville77%80th (Tied)
El Dorado76%86th (Tied)
Fort Smith72%116th (Tied)
North Little Rock69%134th (Tied)
Van Buren68%144th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special66%154th (Tied)
Jonesboro66%154th (Tied)
Hot Springs62%180th (Tied)
Little Rock62%180th (Tied)
West Memphis61%191st (Tied)
Texarkana56%213th (Tied)
Pine Bluff43%237th (Tied)

End-of-Course Exam – Biology
Viola, Dardanelle – 85% (1st)
Lakeside (Chicot) – 6% (244th – Last)

School District% ProficientStatewide Rank
Bentonville76%7th (Tied)
Fayetteville73%13th (Tied)
Searcy65%30th (Tied)
Russellville65%30th (Tied)
Conway59%54th (Tied)
Springdale53%80th (Tied)
Fort Smith52%86th (Tied)
Batesville51%90th (Tied)
Magnolia49%99th (Tied)
Rogers45%124rd (Tied)
Van Buren42%141st (Tied)
Hot Springs39%155th (Tied)
El Dorado35%168th (Tied)
Jonesboro32%179th (Tied)
North Little Rock32%179th (Tied)
Pulaski County Special31%183rd (Tied)
Texarkana29%187th (Tied)
Little Rock28%194th (Tied)
West Memphis28%194th (Tied)
Blytheville17%220th (Tied)
Pine Bluff12%234th (Tied)

A-F School Grades
Des Arc, Magnet Cove, Mammoth Spring, Norfork, Salem – 4.0 (1st)
Lee County – 0.33 (Last)

School DistrictAsBsCsDsFsGPA
Hot Springs311202.71
Fort Smith2712402.28
West Memphis124402.00
El Dorado014201.86
Pulaski County Special24141231.71
Little Rock46101481.62
North Little Rock123811.60
Van Buren013501.56
Pine Bluff001440.67

Reward Schools
Valley View – 100% Top 10% Schools

School DistrictTop 10%Top 11-20%Total
Little Rock516
Fort Smith426
Pulaski County Special123
West Memphis112
Hot Springs112
North Little Rock011

Focus Schools (Lowest 15% Performing, Gaining Schools in Arkansas Less Priority Schools)

School DistrictNumber
Little Rock15
North Little Rock5
Pulaski County Special4
Pine Bluff3
El Dorado2
Hot Springs2
West Memphis1
Fort Smith1

Priority Schools (Lowest 5% Performing, Gaining Schools in Arkansas)

School DistrictNumber
Little Rock8
Pine Bluff4
Pulaski County Special4
Fort Smith2
West Memphis1
Hot Springs1

Academic Distress (Three-year Average of Less than 50% Students Proficient in Math/Literacy)

School DistrictNumber
Little Rock6
Pine Bluff3
Pulaski County Special2

Statewide academic rankings communities would never accept athletically are being perpetually ignored, tolerated and/or explained away. 

Talent now drives economic development. Those communities which can grow, retain and attract it will succeed. Those that can’t or won’t…can’t and won’t.

Put bluntly, if the performance of the local school district(s) is not the top priority of the chambers of commerce and economic development organizations of Arkansas, they are not in the economic development business and neither is the community and/or region they purport to serve.

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