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Arkansas is Committed to its Talent Pipeline

 November 09, 2017

A state’s economic future is only as strong as the children it raises and the workforce it develops. When evaluating a state for business potential, the overall talent pipeline and workforce training programs are important to consider.

This blog series will examine the high-quality educational programs in Arkansas, first by highlighting what Arkansas is doing to develop a well-educated pipeline, followed by the steps Arkansas is taking to ensure a strong and competitive workforce.

Arkansas is committed to providing every citizen with the opportunity for lifelong learning, from pre-kindergarten through postsecondary and beyond. The state ranks 7th by percentage in the nation in the number of new National Board Certified Teachers and now has nearly 3,000 National Board Certified Teachers. It is one of several states with a nine out of 10 rating for early childhood education quality standard benchmarks, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Arkansas is home to 46 colleges and universities. 

A Strong Start
The Arkansas legislature requires that the state’s education system produce academically competent students who can demonstrate their competency in a core curriculum and apply their knowledge and skills. Quality early childhood education programs are imperative to help children develop intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally so they’re prepared for kindergarten. Because Arkansas is dedicated to ensuring all its children are kindergarten-ready, it established the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) Program in 1991. ABC provides funding and rigorous standards for early childhood education for children from low-income families.

Getting STEM Right
The future of Arkansas’s workforce lies in the state’s ability to infuse STEM education into the mainstream of our educational system. STEM is short for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.” A key goal is equipping Arkansas colleges with the tools they need to better educate the K-12 teachers in these core subjects.

The Arkansas STEM Coalition is a statewide partnership of leaders from a diverse range of sectors, including 13 members of Arkansas’s businesses and industries, to enable programs that support excellence in STEM teaching and learning to expand the economy of Arkansas and produce higher paying jobs. 

Through advanced technology, Arkansas students excel in rural as well as urban school districts. Approximately 230 schools in Arkansas and four other states offer Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST), a nationally acclaimed program that originated in Arkansas and is supported by a collaborative partnership involving several universities and the Arkansas Department of Education.

A Hidden Gem: Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts
The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA) in Hot Springs is a two-year, public residential high school that is part of the University of Arkansas System. The school, which consistently ranks among the top 25 high schools in the nation, is for academically advanced juniors and seniors. More than 200 students are enrolled in the school, which also serves as a training center for teachers to develop curriculum and offers extensive statewide distance learning.

Studies at ASMSA focus on mathematics, computer science, science and humanities. All courses are taught at the Honors level or above. ASMSA also offers a number of AP-level courses and courses that go beyond the AP level, especially in mathematics. ASMSA also has an arts program. Teachers have at least a master’s degree in their field, and one-third hold a Ph.D. 

Higher Education
In Arkansas, there are 33 public colleges and universities, two technical institutes, two medical schools and two law schools, as well as 13 independent colleges and universities. These colleges and universities are some of the best in the nation and they are producing graduates making a big difference in our economy. 

Interestingly, Arkansas receives more students from other states than it sends out for college attendance. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, only 953 Arkansas residents left the state for college, while 3,366 students came to Arkansas to attend public college in 2014. Arkansas is a great place to pursue higher education.

U.S. News and World Report ranked the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas 26th in the nation for undergraduate business programs among public institutions in 2017. Engineering students at the University of Arkansas’s High Density Electronics Center design innovations like power device integration for various applications in the electronics industry.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock geriatric department trains professionals in this developing area of medical treatment, prevention, wellness and functional independence. UAMS is among America’s best hospitals and graduate schools, and the University and its affiliates impact Arkansas’s economy $4.5 billion per year.

The next post in this series will look at workforce training in Arkansas.