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When Data Inspires a Movement: How Arkansans Are Working Together to Boost Student Reading Scores

Author: Heather Larkin

Jun11

Only 37 percent of Arkansas third graders read on grade level. Thirty-seven percent. That’s according to student scores on the 2016 ACT Aspire Assessment, the state’s standardized achievement test.

Almost two-thirds of Arkansas children lack the critical early literacy skills they need to be successful throughout the rest of their educational careers and beyond. For those of us who aren’t teachers, principals or school administrators, we might wonder “What can I do about it?” A growing coalition of Arkansans are answering that question with a resounding “Take action!”

When Arkansas Community Foundation produced the first edition of our Aspire Arkansas report, we wanted to provide community leaders with better access to information that would spark conversations about community-minded solutions. Access to key facts and data about our communities can serve as a roadmap, giving us a sense of where we are now and where we can go. We’ve been working to answer the question, “What can everyday Arkansans do to move the numbers in the right direction, and what can Arkansas Community Foundation do to help?”

When we learned about the critical need to improve our kids’ reading scores, we knew we had an opportunity to find out what it could look like to join partners across Arkansas using data to spark positive change.

Here’s what we’re learning:

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