Why is Arkansas Works Important?

Arkansas cannot prosper in a global economy without a larger population of highly skilled and educated people who can handle demanding jobs and generate new ideas. In order to foster and maintain a healthy economy as well as compete globally, Arkansas needs a strong, highly educated, and competent workforce. To be on par with other states, Arkansas needs all students, not just the top 10 or 15 percent, to possess a strong academic foundation that will enables them to take advantage of all options in education and training or in a career.

The growing achievement gap between Arkansas and other states is detrimental to our success. Only 18 percent of Arkansans age 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree, making Arkansas is ranked 49th in the nation in the number of bachelor-degree holders. In this time of high-stakes exams, economic hardship, and changing demographics, it is more important than ever for students to understand how education or training beyond high school means a brighter future not only for themselves, but for their families and communities.

The Arkansas College and Career Planning System

The Arkansas Works College and Career Planning System is a free Web-based career planning tool designed to help middle- and high-school students and adults explore their career interests and learn about education and training options beyond the high-school level. The system allows users to take interest inventories to learn more about themselves as they explore career possibilities and develop career goals and plans. The system provides a variety of tools such as online portfolios, assistance with résumés, higher education costs and financial aid information, and job search assistance.

The ACT Academy Program

The ACT Academy Program was implemented in the summer of 2010 as a means to increase the ACT scores of students in the 21 identified counties, as well as to reduce college remediation rates and improve the effectiveness of college and career information given to students and their families.

To be eligible, students must live in one of the 21 targeted counties and must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Rising junior, rising senior, or high school graduate who scored below a 19 on the ACT exam in the areas of English, reading, math and/or science
  • Rising Junior, rising seniors, or high school graduate who has not taken the ACT exam and presents a comparative score of less than a 19 on the Compass, ASSET, PLAN, Explore or PSAT exam

ACT Academy courses are taught by certified secondary education teachers and college developmental instructors who have teaching experience in the designated subject area and have been trained in the Sylvan ACT instructional method.

Performance Measures Used to Evaluate Arkansas Works

Arkansas Works is a performance-driven initiative. Local programs and the overall grant are evaluated on well established Performance Measures are impacted in the 21 identified counties. To determine the positive impact of the College and Career Coaches presence, College and Career Coaches will be evaluate on how well the performance measures improve for their assigned school districts. The Arkansas Departments of Education (ADE) and Higher Education (ADHE) will be responsible for reporting school district and county data for each of their specified Performance Measures.

  • High School Graduation Rate (ADE)
  • Enrollment in Smart Core (ADE)
  • College-Going Rate (ADHE)
  • Reduced Remediation (ADHE)
  • Increased ACT Scores (ADHE)
  • Increased Applications for State Aid (ADHE)
  • Increased Applications for Federal Aid (ADHE