Arkansas’ ACT aspire and ACT results remain steady


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News Release) — Arkansas’ ACT Aspire preliminary results show that student academic performance remained relatively steady in 2019. The 2019 administration marks the fourth year the online assessment has been given to students in grades 3 through 10.

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.

“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.”

ADE is partnering with schools around the state to implement numerous programs that promote academic achievement. From the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence (R.I.S.E. Arkansas) and a robust dyslexia initiative to the governor’s Computer Science Initiative, the newly-launched Math QuEST professional development for teachers, and the implementation of Professional Learning Communities, schools are addressing the academic needs of all students.

How the Test Is Used

The ACT Aspire test is a summative assessment, or end-of-year test. A student scoring at the Ready or Exceeding level is on track to meeting the ACT benchmark in grade 11. A student scoring Close may need additional support to reach the rigorous grade 11 benchmarks. The ACT Aspire is aligned to the Arkansas academic standards, and when the results are combined with other school-level data, they provide a good measure of overall student achievement. When combining student scores at a school level, the results are one of many indicators used to determine how well a school is meeting the rigor of state academic standards and whether or not students are on track to meet The ACT readiness benchmarks in the 11th grade.

The test also is administered to meet federal accountability requirements. Final test results will be used later this fall, along with numerous other data measures, to calculate ESSA School Index scores for every public school in the state.

ACT Grade 11 Results

In addition to the 2019 ACT Aspire results, grade 11 ACT results for 2019 also were released. The 2019 administration also represents the fourth administration of The ACT for grade 11. Research shows that students’ ACT composite scores tend to increase the more times the test is taken. To encourage students to take the test multiple times in high school, all public school 11th-graders are given the opportunity to take the test for free during the spring of their junior 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.

More Information

To learn more about the 2019 ACT Aspire (pre-appeals) data sets release, visit ADE’s My School Info website at

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