Did you know that:
- Seven out of 10 Arkansas students cannot read on grade level by the end of third grade?
- Seven out of 10 Arkansas four-year-olds are not enrolled in a Pre-K program?
- Seven out of 10 inmates in Arkansas state prisons do not have a high school diploma, and
- Seven out of 10 current jobs available in Arkansas are low-skill jobs that don’t require more than a high school diploma?
What is it about the number seven that brings out some of our worst state statistics? To combat each, we’re proud to partner with the following organizations to help further their goals and missions.
Third grade is a pivotal point in a child’s cognitive development and academic learning. It is at this time that children transition from learning to read into reading to learn, which prepares students for success through the duration of their school years. However, current reading assessments show that only 32 percent of Arkansas third graders are actually reading at grade level, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Closing this literacy gap will be critical to moving Arkansas children forward, and we’re proud to partner with the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to aid in their efforts to move the needle on this statistic.
Access to high-quality Pre-K programs is essential to build the foundation for educational success in any student. Read more from our partner, Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families, on the “Elements of High-Quality Pre-K.” In addition to the reasons stated above, high-quality Pre-K programs increase graduation rates, provide students access to early nutrition and help to close the achievement gap. We continue to be proud to support state investment in Pre-K.
As outlined by Dr. William “Dubs” Byers of the Arkansas Department of Correction, there is also a clear correlation between high-quality early childhood education and high school graduation rates. These early learning opportunities lead to less child abuse and neglect, better performance in school, fewer high school drop-outs and, ultimately, fewer crimes committed and a reduction in the number of prisoners, according to a report from the Council for a Strong America’s “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids” initiative, with whom we’re also proud to partner. This same report also indicated that Arkansas will reap a return of more than $725 million over the lifetime of these children, if we ensure that the pre-K is high quality.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation’s Expect More report in 2014 helped us realize that postsecondary education in skilled trade professions will be important in ensuring that jobs coming to our state are “good” jobs – those paying at least family-supporting wages. Preparing our workforce to have the skills needed for the global economy is imperative, and we’ve now seen other organizations step in to help realize the needs of industries with high-skilled jobs. The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce’s “Be Pro Be Proud” workforce initiative, aimed at bringing a new generation of pride, progress and professionals back to Arkansas’s skilled workforce, is a great example.
Let’s work together to help turn these statistics around for our Arkansas students and workforce!