Education in Arkansas
Arkansas has a strong commitment to providing every citizen with the learning opportunities, from prekindergarten through postsecondary and continuing education. Arkansas invests into education and training resources that allow workers to develop skills needed by key industries in the state.
Elementary and Secondary Education
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. Rigorous learning standards have been defined in the Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks, discipline-based documents that clearly describe what students must master by grades 4, 8, and 12.
The Arkansas Better Chance Program (ABC)
The Arkansas Better Chance Program (ABC) encourages the development of quality early childhood education programs to help at-risk children develop intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally in order to be prepared for kindergarten.
The future of Arkansas’ 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.” Another project 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 12 members of Arkansas 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.
Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA)
The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA) is a two-year, public residential high school located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is a part of the University of Arkansas administrative system and a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools for Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST) and the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS).
Academically, the school is modeled after the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Studies focus on mathematics, computer science, science and humanities, the largest department at the school. 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. Teachers have at least a master’s degree in their field, and 27% have a Ph.D. Notable professors at the school.
The EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technologies) Initiative is an educational nonprofit that oversees and trains for a school program, EAST, that operates across the United States. It is unique for offering students and teachers professional technology and software for use in a loosely-structured, self-driven environment.
EAST began with one classroom in Greenbrier, Arkansas, in 1996. Former law-enforcement officer Tim Stephenson was in his first year of teaching, and having had experience with “disconnected” youth, had been assigned a classroom of “at-risk” students. In seeking a point of interest for them, Stephenson proposed an outing to a spot near the school where students often went to skip classes. The wooded area included a creek and a pond. It was pointed out that it would be muddy crossing the creek. The first EAST project turned out to be a bridge across that creek.
Realizing that the K-12 education system lacked the needed technology, as well as instruction in using it, Stephenson sought help from an Arkansas technology firm that introduced him to national and international resources.
The EAST Initiative curriculum provides students an expansive experience in CAD, Programming/Coding, Video/ Photography/Graphics, GPS/GIS, Music Composition and Computer-Related Instruction. Through advanced technology, Arkansas students excel in rural, as well as urban, school districts.
New Tech Network
New Tech came to Arkansas in 2011 with the announcement of the STEM Works pilot program. This program focuses on improving the quality of STEM education available in Arkansas high schools. Currently, nine schools are participating in Arkansas.
New Tech high schools employ integrated problem-based learning throughout the entire high school curriculum. Students use technology to facilitate their learning, while working on educational projects that incorporate curriculum elements from multiple classes (for example, students study math in literature). Students work in teams in open areas. Teachers act as facilitators to help students become directors of their learning processes. Students at New Tech high schools experience a more hands-on educational process that better prepares them for the rigors of college and career. They develop a more dedicated and realistic approach to their studies, which is critical for student success after graduation. They conduct their own research and partner with external experts to document and develop an understanding of the impact of a New Tech network education.
Arkansas 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.
Universities in Arkansas
Arkansas is home to 11 four-year state colleges, 12 four-year private colleges, and 22 two-year state colleges.
2-Year Public Colleges:
UTeach System at Arkansas Universities
The UTeach Institute partners with 44 universities to implement UTeach programs across 23 states and the District of Columbia. Three of these universities, all of which began implementation in the fall of 2012, are located in Arkansas: University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and University of Central Arkansas. These universities have a program enrollment of 221 students statewide (2016-2017 school year). Graduates of these programs are projected to teach approximately 110,000 secondary sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students by 2020. There are currently 44 graduates teaching across Arkansas’s school districts (2018-2019 school year)
Project Lead the Way
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs. The world-class curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate and community partners, help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in the global economy.
PLTW’s success in preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed has been recognized by colleges and universities, Fortune 500 businesses, and numerous national organizations including Change the Equation, the Social Impact Exchange, and more. PLTW is offered in 84 Arkansas schools, ranging from large urban schools to rural delta schools.
Currently, Arkansas has 99 PLTW programs. Arkansas Tech University currently offers PLTW teacher training in multiple summer sessions for elementary, middle school and high school teachers.
Workforce development is a priority of Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Department of Commerce, which works with business and industry to meet existing and new workforce needs. More than 95% of the state’s population live within a 30-mile radius of one of these institutions.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s (AEDC) business managers assist with the formation of local workforce development consortia, formal organizations of businesses and industries that identify common training needs in the community. Consortia – as well as individual companies – are eligible for state-funded training grants.
Check out our workforce training resources to learn more about how Arkansas is creating and maintaining skilled workers.