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Arkansas Still Not Ranked 5th in Education, Gov. Beebe!

Updated: Apr 13

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Outgoing Gov. Mike Beebe recently has been on a kind of tour in which he discusses what he thinks his legacy will be. In so doing, he’s returned to making a dubious claim about Arkansas’s improving education ranking in the nation: “I’m happy we’ve climbed the education rankings. Now we’re 5th in the nation… The “we’re 5th in the nation” in education talking point comes from a past Education Week Quality Counts study that we debunked a couple of years ago. From The Arkansas Project in 2012:

The study Beebe et al. were wetting their pants over was the Education Week Quality Counts 2011 survey, which ranked Arkansas #5 based on education policies. But notably, the Quality Counts study gave the state “low marks in two areas two areas where the state has long struggled to advance: Student achievement and the chance for a successful career with an Arkansas education,” according to the Arkansas News Bureau’s John Lyon. Gosh, those kind of seem like areas where you’d want to get the high marks!

Recently, another study showed that Arkansas still has a long way to go in education. Once again, Arkansas received the second-lowest grade in the country (D+) on ALEC’s Report Card on American Education. From Lindsay Russell, director of the ALEC Task Force on Education:

Freedom in education is important to student learning, and states with policies that allow flexibility and choice within their educational systems often see better student performance. A one-size-fits-all approach to education does not take into account the needs of individual students or unique state populations. The overall goal in grading states by their policies is to best reflect how each state is striving to provide high-quality education options to every student. The Report Card on American Education supports teachers, policymakers and parents in determining what policies fit their distinct needs.” Educational freedom matters, and choice in school policy results in better teachers, higher-performing schools and better educational outcomes. In localities where outcomes are subpar, students who have access to educational options – such as public charter schools, private charter schools, homeschools and digital learning opportunities – have a better chance to succeed.

Arkansas’s rank was particularly bad in the areas of digital learning and private school choice options. You can read the rest of the report here.

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