Arkansas cited for gains in education | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Arkansas cited for gains in education

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 1:08 PM

The Southern Regional Education Board has released a report lauding Arkansas for education gains over the last decade, as measured by improvement on standardized tests. Top points:

Arkansas led the nation in eighth-grade math improvement at the Basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 2003 to 2011. The percentage of Arkansas eighth-graders who scored at or above this level in math increased 12 points (to 70 percent) since 2003, while the nation rose 5 points.

Arkansas’s black and Hispanic fourth-graders narrowed achievement gaps with white students in math on NAEP at the Basic level from 2003 to 2011–– as its black fourth-graders did in reading.

Arkansas’s black and Hispanic eighth-graders narrowed the achievement gap in math at the NAEP Basic level over the period.

Arkansas also showed a high participation rate in Advanced Placement courses. Said SREB president Dave Spence in a news release: “These gains are an important step forward and confirm that many of the policies Arkansas has adopted are making a difference.”

Here's the full report.

Some scattershot observations:

* RACE: In 2000, 75 percent of Arkansas high school graduates were white, 21 percent were black and 2 percent were Hispanic. By 2020, the report says, the percentage will be 55 percent, with 22 percent Hispanic and 17 percent black.

* POVERTY: The percentage of children living in low-income households rose 14 percent between 2000 and 2010.

* READING: Though a gap remains, fourth grade reading scores have been mostly flat for whites, but the percentage scoring at or above basic among blacks rose from 32 to 40 percent of all tested between 2003 and 2011. Whites in that category moved from 70 to 72 percent.

SREB NEWS RELEASE

Arkansas significantly improved public education by several key measures in the last decade, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board.

Across the region, SREB states led the nation in gains since 2002 in areas such as student reading and math achievement and high school graduation rates. And they made this progress during the long economic downturn, rising child poverty rates, and rapid growth of an increasingly diverse population.

A Decade of Progress is a landmark look back at each state’s and the region’s education achievements since the states adopted 12 ambitious Challenge to Lead Goals for Education in 2002. Among the highlights:

Arkansas led the nation in eighth-grade math improvement at the Basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 2003 to 2011. The percentage of Arkansas eighth-graders who scored at or above this level in math increased 12 points (to 70 percent) since 2003, while the nation rose 5 points.

Arkansas’s black and Hispanic fourth-graders narrowed achievement gaps with white students in math on NAEP at the Basic level from 2003 to 2011–– as its black fourth-graders did in reading.

Arkansas’s black and Hispanic eighth-graders narrowed the achievement gap in math at the NAEP Basic level over the period.

The student participation rate in Advanced Placement in Arkansas exceeded the national rate. In 2011, 40 percent of graduating seniors had taken at least one AP exam in high school, up 31 percentage points from 2001 –– the greatest increase in the nation.

“These gains are an important step forward and confirm that many of the policies Arkansas has adopted are making a difference,” said SREB President Dave Spence. “Education has been a top priority for SREB states. The challenge ahead is to focus on what we know works to improve public education.”

Arkansas: A Decade of Progress details the state’s demographic and income changes, school performance standards, pre-K through postsecondary student achievement, adult learning and job training, and more. Download the full PDF here.

The Southern Regional Education Board works with 16 member states to improve public education: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Based in Atlanta, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region.

SREB tracks progress of its 16 member states on the Challenge to Lead Goals for Education, adopted by state leaders to help the region lead the nation in educational progress at all levels.

In addition to these state-by-state reports, in the coming weeks SREB will release analyses of region-wide progress on student achievement in NAEP scores, high school graduation rates and college completion trends. SREB expects to announce updated Goals for Education in September.

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