2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 62%
Arkansas’ Succeed Scholarship Program is the state’s first school choice program. Signed into law in 2015, the program was launched and first utilized by families in 2016.
Charter Schools Score: 68%
Arkansas has a weak charter school law that allows for only one entity to authorize schools and has a cap.
The only entity who is able to authorize charter schools in Arkansas is the State Board of Education which is very bureaucratic. This bureaucracy has limited the growth of charter schools which has been further hampered by there being a cap on the number of open enrollment charter schools that can be opened in Arkansas.
Arkansas Has the 16th weakest charter school law in the country and earned a D grade according to the Center for Education Reform’s Charter School Law Rankings. Arkansas only has one charter school authorizer (the state charter school board) and a cap on the number of open enrollment charter schools in the state both of which were factors in Arkansas’ score.
- Fast Facts
- Law passed in 1995
- Number of schools: 29
- Estimated charter school enrollment: 29,400 (up 24percent from 2015-16)
- Arkansas does cap the number of open enrollment charter schools
- Virtual charter schools permitted
- Charter schools can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management purposes
- A study by the University of Arkansas concluded that Charter Schools in Little Rock recieve 38percent less funding than traditional public schools in Little Rock.
- Arkansas earned a four out of fifteen for authorizers. While conversion charter schools must be authorized by their local school board, open enrollment charter schools are authorized by the state government. In both cases there is only one entity that is able to authorize charter schools and it operates without the ability to appeal any arbitrary decisions. Having multiple entities able to authorize charter schools is preferable because it would provide another option for charter schools to be authorized. In doing so, it would better fit the needs of the specific school. Having a variety of schools that operate differently is the hallmark of a successful charter school environment and having one authorizer ensures that this will not happen. Additionally, with one authorizer, there is a large potential for regulations from the authorizer. This is because every charter school needs to be authorized by the same entity and it cannot pick one that is less regulative.
- Arkansas earned a six out of fifteen for growth because their law has a cap on the number of new charter schools (which increase by five per year) At the moment,, the number of charter schools in Arkansas is approaching the cap. This heavily limits the amount that charter schools can grow in Arkansas. Additionally, Arkansas has policies that make it difficult for successful charter schools to expand, for example, requiring a separate board of directors for each charter campus. Both of these policies arbitrarily limit opportunities for student’s growth, therefore harming their education.
- Arkansas earned an eleven out of twenty for operations. In Arkansas, charter schools need to negotiate for waivers with the government. This is problematic because charter schools thrive when they are autonomous entities who have the ability to make decisions free from the regulations. Having to negotiate for operational freedom is the exact same as not having that freedom at all both because its subject to political machinations and because it invites regulations.
Arkansas earned a five and a half out of fifteen for funding equity. This is because while their law states that charters should receive funds equal to the amount a traditional public school would receive, the amount of funding is not guaranteed in the law. For open-enrollment charters, funding is determined annually by the state board of education. Charter Schools in Arkansas do not receive per pupil facilities funding.
Online Learning Score: 75%
Providing online opportunities for students is a streamlined process as the state clearly defines criteria, process and a timeframe for authorizing online provider. The state now requires 50% of teacher evaluations to be based on student learning data. To ensure that students have true access, Arkansas could prevent school districts from restricting a student’s ability to enroll in an online course “substantially similar” to one offered by the district.
Teacher Quality Score: 82%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers B-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers B-
Identifying Effective Teachers C
Retaining Effective Teachers B
Exiting Ineffective Teachers C-