- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas’ third- through 10th-graders scored higher on the state-required ACT Aspire tests this spring than in 2016, according to state education officials.

More than 287,500 students participated in the state’s testing program for the second year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2tapi0M ) reported. They also took online tests in English, math, science, reading and writing that were developed by the company that produces the ACT college-entrance exam.

Results showed students improved in most grades and subjects, except for sixth-grade science, fifth-grade English and third-grade writing.

Arkansas Department of Education officials said students in sixth- and eighth-grade improved in math while students in fourth- through eighth-grade improved in writing.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said the scores are “a positive reflection of the work of our dedicated educators.”

“The increase in Arkansas’ scores can be attributed to the full implementation of the state’s rigorous education standards, high-quality professional development, and innovative and evidence-based teaching practices in the classroom that encourage student engagement and learning,” Key said.

He said there is still room for improvement.

The results of the spring tests will be presented to the Arkansas Board of Education on Friday. The results will be used to develop academic improvement plans for students who didn’t score the “ready” or better levels on any of the tests.

“While we want to see continued improvements in the future, the increased scores in math and writing bode well for our state in our efforts to attract more industry with a strong workforce,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Arkansas is using the Aspire testing program to comply with the federal Every Child Succeeds Act, which calls for states to hold schools and their districts accountable for student learning.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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