2018 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%
With one of the weakest charter school laws in the country, Arkansas earns a “D” in the rankings. The state’s de facto single authorizer, cap on the number of open enrollment charter schools, and regulatory environment depress Arkansas’ score.
- Law passed in 1995
- 58 charter schools
- Estimated charter school enrollment: 29,400 (up 24 percent from 2015-16)
- Arkansas caps 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 receive 38 percent less funding than traditional public schools in Little Rock
- Arkansas earns 4 of 15 for “authorizing.” The state school board authorizes open enrollment schools, and school districts authorize conversion charters. In both cases, there is only one entity that is able to authorize charter schools, and the law provides no route for charters to appeal arbitrary decisions.
- Arkansas earns 6 of 15 points for “growth” because the law caps the number of new charters at 5 per year. At the writing of this report, the state is approaching the cap. In addition to this arbitrary cap, Arkansas’ policies make it difficult for successful charter schools to expand. One example is that the law requires a separate board of directors for each charter campus.
- Arkansas earns 11 of 20 points for “operations.” Charter schools must negotiate for waivers with the government. Blanket waivers from the regulations that apply to district schools are preferable, as they guarantee charter school autonomy.
- Arkansas earns 5.5 of 15 points for “funding equity.” The law states but does not guarantee that charters are funded at parity with their district counterparts. 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.
Teacher Quality Score: 78%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C
Expanding the Pool of Teachers F
Identifying Effective Teachers D+
Retaining Effective Teachers F
Exiting Ineffective Teachers F
Overall State Grade C+