Public education in Arkansas
Energy policy • Public education • School choice • Public pensions • State budget • Ballot measures
- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Education ballot measures
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 References
Arkansas school districts
List of school districts in Arkansas
Public education in Arkansas
School board elections portal
- "Implementing state and federal education laws"
- "Disbursing state and federal funds"
- "Holding schools and districts accountable for performance"
- "Licensing all educators and providing public transparency"
The mission statement of the Arkansas Department of Education reads:
|“||The Arkansas Department of Education strives to ensure that all children in the state have access to a quality education by providing educators, administrators and staff with leadership, resources and training.||”|
The Commissioner of Education is the chief executive of the Arkansas Department of Education. The Commissioner of Education is appointed by the State Board of Education and approved by the Governor. The current Commissioner of Education is Tom W. Kimbrell.
The State Board of Education is comprised of nine members appointed by the Governor to seven-year terms. Two members come from each of the state's four congressional districts. One member is selected at-large.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Arkansas State Board of Education adopted the standards on July 12, 2010. Full implementation was set to be achieved in the 2013-2014 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Arkansas compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Arkansas as reported in the Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Arkansas's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||2,346||0.49%||0.42%|
|Two or more||7,745||1.60%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in Arkansas attend rural schools. More than 64 percent of the state's students attend rural or town schools, compared to approximately 36 percent who attend city or town schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural Schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri), Arkansas's fourth grade students scored the highest in mathematics (tying with Missouri).
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Arkansas was higher than the national average at 3.5 percent in the 2010-2011 school year. The dropout rate was lower than the national average at 3.2 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Arkansas
School choice options in Arkansas include: charter schools, online learning programs and inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies. In addition, about 5.41 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Arkansas state budget
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 16.3 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 2.4 percentage points, or 12.8 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 18.7 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
- See also: Public school system revenues in the U.S. to compare all states.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Arkansas totaled approximately $5.2 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Arkansas and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Arkansas totaled approximately $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Arkansas and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Arkansas, the average salary increased by 2.2 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Arkansas ranked 48th overall, or "weakest," which was in the fifth of five tiers.
The main union related to the Arkansas school system is the Arkansas Education Association (AEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). For the 2004 tax period AEA had: $3.85 million in total revenue, $4.03 million in total expenses and $1.07 million in total assets.
List of local Arkansas school unions:
- See also: Arkansas government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Arkansas School Boards Association.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia staff have tracked 16 statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Arkansas Act 78, Whether to Abolish the State Board of Education (1934)
- Arkansas Appropriation of School Funds, Amendment 2 (1932)
- Arkansas Assignment of Pupils in Public Schools, Initiated Act 2 (1956)
- Arkansas Ban on Teaching Evolution, Act 1 (1928)
- Arkansas College Savings Bond Act, Proposed Question Act 683 (1990)
- Arkansas Community College and Technical School Districts, Proposed Amendment 57 (1964)
- Arkansas Elimination of Public Education Age Restriction, Proposed Amendment 53 (1968)
- Arkansas Equal Educational Opportunity Act, Initiated Act No. 1 (1980)
- Arkansas Establish a State Board of Education, Proposed Amendment 30 (1938)
- Arkansas Federal Government Not Allowed to Exercise Power Over Public Schools (1956)
- Arkansas Free Education for All Children, Proposed Amendment 52 (1960)
- Arkansas Free Textbooks, Act 4 (September 1912)
- Arkansas Initiated Act No. 1, Arkansas School District Reorganization (1966)
- Arkansas Interposition, Proposed Amendment 47 (1956)
- Arkansas Junior College Districts, Proposed Amendment 32 (1942)
- Arkansas School Tax Limitation, Proposed Amendment 43 (1956)
Studies and reports
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states which spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
- Arkansas state budget
- Arkansas Department of Education
- Arkansas school districts
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Arkansas Department of Education
- Arkansas State Board of Education
- Arkansas Public Schools
- Arkansas Public Charter Schools
- Arkansas School Accountability
- Arkansas AYP Reports
- Arkansas School Financial Reports
- Arkansas Education Legislation
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Arkansas Department of Education, "About ADE," accessed May 14, 2014
- Arkansas Department of Education, "State Board of Education," accessed May 14, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State,” accessed June 12, 2014
- Arkansas Department of Education, "Common Core State Standards," accessed June 13, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "Arkansas Education Association," accessed March 13, 2010
- Center for Union Facts, "Arkansas teachers unions," accessed March 13, 2010