Pro Publica, the public interest journalism nonprofit, has rolled out a huge analysis of national data on how well the states do in providing equal access to advanced education.
The unsurprising news: There's a big "opportunity gap." In many places, higher level courses, such as Advanced Placement, are more readily available in more prosperous districts and less accessible to poor students. Some states do better than others. The data covers every school district in the U.S. with more than 3,000 students — only 39 in Arkansas — but it covers more than 75 percent of the students in the country.
Here's the Arkansas rundown. Though 54 percent of the students are poor (judged by qualification for free or reduced price lunch), a figure that exceeds the national average, the state meets or exceeds the national average in students taking AP courses, advanced math, chemistry and gifted and talented courses. We fall behind in the percentage taking physics.
That state link also allows you to look at performance in each of the school districts included. And when you look up the district, you can look at how each school fares. And you can compare that school to another school in the state. Fascinating number crunching. You could fiddle with this for hours. See what you can find.
This link, for example, compares enrollment in higher level courses in the Little Rock School District against percentage enrollment in the poorest district covered, Forrest City, and the most prosperous, Bentonville.