The Basics:

The school performance scores and free/reduced lunch data displayed in this chart were downloaded in November 2012 from the Arkansas Department of Education's website. Those interested in reviewing reports on individual schools can search here. These agencies make such data available to the public as a matter of policy. The Education Consumers Foundation simply displays that which is publicly available in a consumer-friendly way.

  • Each dot represents a school's 3rd grade math proficiency rates.
  • Dots to the right have higher rates of poverty, as measured by participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch program.
  • Dots toward the top have higher rates of 3rd grade students who are proficient or advanced on the state's math test.
  • If the ‘Charter Schools’ box is checked, charter schools are shown in red

About the Chart
Learning core skills in the early grades (K-3) is perhaps the single most important achievement in a student’s academic career.

As this chart indicates, there is a high degree of correlation between math proficiency rates and student poverty rates (as measured by participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch program). This is largely because students from economically disadvantaged households often start their school careers a year or more behind their peers, and are not given the kind of intensive instruction they need to catch up.

Students’ entry points are not the fault of schools; however, there are instructional methods available that can help them catch up to their peers and significantly improve their academic (and life) trajectory, and those methods have been largely ignored. Readers interested in learning more can visit www/

Improving proficiency rates in core skills by third grade is the single most effective change schools can make to improve later outcomes. And, as other schools and districts have shown, it is entirely within their power to do so if they are willing to explore alternate approaches to this age-old problem.

Reading the Chart
The numbers along the bottom margin of the chart (x-axis) are the percentages of students at a school participating in the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program, a common measure of economic disadvantage. Schools with 70% or more of their student in this program are considered high-poverty schools.

The numbers along the left hand margin of the chart (y-axis) are 3rd grade reading proficiency rates, which include students reported to be “Proficient” (performing at grade level) or “Advanced” (performing above grade label). These are the students who are prepared to graduate to the 4th grade and do work at that level.