Doors of Little Rock public schools are open wide to black students 49 years after desegregation. But black students tend to leave those same schools behind their white counterparts by the measure of standardized test scores.

This is just one illustration of the sorts of issues that could — probably should — be on the table for discussion at the forums scheduled to observe the desegregation anniversary in September 1957.

A wide range of factors leads to performance disparities among students — economics and social class, school funding and parental involvement. Without examining how these factors figure into specific results (a disproportionate number of black students in the Little Rock school district qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches, for example), the gap is real in Little Rock, Arkansas and nationally.

What we don’t have is a comparison with achievement in 1957, when schools were separate and unequal in Arkansas and universal education was not yet a fact of life in every segment of the community.

All the same, here’s an illustration of the gap in the Little Rock School District, based on 2005 figures on the state benchmark exam, and the statewide numbers:

Grade Eight Literacy


Race Percent Proficient* Race Percent Proficient*

White 78 White 66

Black 36 Black 35

Hispanic 42 Hispanic 46

Grade Eight Math


Race Percent Proficient* Race Percent Proficient*

White 52 White 43

Black 8.3 Black 9.6

Hispanic 15 Hispanic 25

*Percent of students at or above proficient level



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • New episode of Rock the Culture: "Juice In Your Own Life"

    In this week’s episode, Charles and Antwan provide perspective and conversation on the Little Rock Mayoral Election and State Board of Education’s consideration of the anticipated request to waive the Fair Teacher Dismissal Act. In addition, Charles and Antwan discuss all things happening in the Little Rock School District with Superintendent Michael Poore.
    • Dec 11, 2018
  • End of the week headlines and your open line

    Alderman candidate misses chance to cast deciding vote for himself in runoff election; Dem-Gaz to phase out print delivery in El Dorado, Camden and Magnolia; Rapert threatens UA Fort Smith over 'Drag Queen Story Time' event; The Van seeks to raise $35,000 in three weeks for new warehouse facility in South Little Rock.
    • Dec 7, 2018
  • New episode of Out in Arkansas: "Boy Erased"

    Out in Arkansas’s hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen talk about all the things because all the things are LGBTQ things. This week T & A talk about “Boy Erased” and their own emotions during and after the movie. Thank you for listening! #outinarkansas #beinggayinthesouth #dontbeadouche #beadecentperson
    • Dec 7, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation