Here’s the state Education Department release on standardized testing of public schools students on the ACT Aspire tests in the last school year. You read, you decide the bottom line.

The release did not include national figures for comparison. But the release acknowledged that the average score did not improve at the 11th grade level, when ACT is important in college admission.  In 2017-18, 31,227 students were tested and had an average score of 18.7, down from 18.8 the year before. The national average for the graduating class of 2017 was 21.0.

In the lower grades, 3-10, some scores were up, some held steady, some dropped.

Among the declines: The number meeting or exceeding grade level fell in grades 6, 9 and 10 on both reading and English. Scores in math dropped in grades 4, 5, 6 and 7. Science grades dropped in grades 4,5,6,7 and 10. In all, then, scores dropped in half of the categories of the eight grade levels tested in the four subject areas.


The news release cautions against comparing STEM scores because of scoring changes, but nonethless noted that average scores in grades 3-7 either showed little change or decreased.

Education Commissioner Johnny Key said, nonetheless:

“The results reflect educators’ commitment to teaching strong, rigorous education standards and the positive effects of the R.I.S.E. Arkansas and Computer Science initiatives. The results show we still have work to do to improve education in Arkansas, but I am confident that as we move toward implementation of Arkansas’ Every Student Succeeds Act plan this fall, we will lead the nation in student-focused education.”