The state Education Department today reported on standardized test scores for public school students in 2018-19. The news release characterized the results as “steady” and quoted Education Commissioner Johnny Key:

“This year’s assessment results align with other school-level data and reflect what we already know,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “It is evident that we have areas that are showing growth along with areas that need improvement. Growth, however, takes time, and I am confident we are heading in the right direction. Through continued collaboration, teacher excellence, and a culture of learning, our students’ performance will improve, and we will lead the nation in student-focused education.”

Scores were up in some grades and testing areas and not in others on the Aspire test given to students in grade 3-10. The average score on the ACT test given 11th graders dropped from the previous year.


In 2019, a total of 31,402 students were tested, which is slightly higher than last year’s number. The 2018-2019 average composite score is 18.5, compared to 18.7 in 2017-2018. A total of 13 percent of students met all four readiness benchmarks (Reading, English, Math, and Science), which is down one percentage point from last year.

Here’s how the state summarized the 3-10 scores:

The percent of students scoring at the Ready or Exceeding levels in English remained steady or trended upward in grades 5 and 9, with the same holding true in Reading for grades 3, 4, 5, and 8. The combined English Language Arts Ready and Exceeding scores remained stable or increased in Grades 4, 5, 7, and 8.
Math scores were consistent as well. The percent of students at the Ready and Exceeding levels remained steady or increased in grades 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Science Ready and Exceeding scores remained stable or showed improvement in Grades 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10, with combined STEM Ready and Exceeding scores holding steady or increasing in grades 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
Missing from the summary are precise comparisons and the percentage of students performing acceptably in each category.  (At virtually no level are a majority of students reading at supposed grade level.) These are preliminary numbers and can be corrected.
And at this link you can find a spreadsheet for statewide grades.
You can also check individual schools and districts. In Little Rock, some up and some down, much as the experience statewide. What now for the future of the Little Rock School District after five years of state control? Its scores lag behind state averages in virtually all cases, but it also has a far higher percentage of students in poverity and minority students than the state as a whole.