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Prep Academy receives $490,552 grant renewal | News

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Prep Academy receives $490,552 grant renewal
News, Schools
Prep Academy receives $490,552 grant renewal

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (HSU) – The Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy (SWACPA) has received a $490,552 grant to fund the Prep Academy for 2014-2015. This is the fourth year that the College and Career Readiness Planning (CCRP) grant has been awarded to the academy.

The academy is designed to prepare high school students for college.  It targets eighth-grade students who want to attend college but score below the benchmarks required for unconditional admission to college. The scores are determined by the EXPLORE pre-ACT test.

The program began as part of the High School Redesign Initiative of the Southwest-A Education Renewal Zone (ERZ) at Henderson and the Arkansas Department of Education. Leaders from Arkadelphia Public Schools, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist University, College of the Ouachitas, Dawson Educational Cooperative, Southern Bancorp, Ross Foundation, Clark County Strategic Plan, and others participated in the development of the Academy in 2009.

“The project was solely funded with private money from Southern Bancorp and the Ross Foundation for the first three years,” said Paulette Blacknall, director of Henderson’s Education Renewal Zone. “We worked with (former) state Rep. Johnnie Roebuck to access the state funds to operate the program.” The grant must be renewed each year.

In its second year, the Prep Academy expanded to include the Centerpoint and Gurdon School Districts, with the Cabe Foundation and Olds Foundation joining the partnership. Today, Henderson State and its partners have expanded the Prep Academy into a regional initiative with the inclusion of four colleges and 15 school districts.

SWACPA currently serves 472 students, with successive grade levels of students added each year. Once all grades are offered at every campus, SWACPA’s capacity will be 784 students. Each of the four college campuses has its own academy and staff under the umbrella of the HSU Renewal Zone, Blacknall said.  

All ninth-grade students are invited to apply for the academy. The students participate as an intervention to eliminate the need for remediation in college. Each student’s progress is monitored annually to create a seamless transition to college. Students are taught by teaching teams – including a high school teacher and a college professor – who use curriculum focusing on math, English and reading.

The academy holds classes on selected Saturdays from October through May and two weeks in June. In Clark County, activities take place at Henderson and Ouachita, along with field trips and off-campus activities. In addition to the CCRP grant, the program is funded by local school districts and grants from private foundations. All classes and activities are offered at no cost to the students.

The success of the SWAPCA has attracted national attention.

“We have been asked to present at national and regional conferences,” Blacknall said. “People want to hear about the model, and some want to come visit to look at the model.”

The schools currently participating in the program include:

·         Henderson State/Ouachita Baptist (Arkadelphia, Gurdon and Centerpoint schools)

·         College of the Ouachitas (Malvern, Bismarck and Magnet Cove schools)

·         National Park Community College (Hot Springs, Cutter Morning Star and Mt. Pine schools)

·         University of Arkansas Community College/Hope (Hope, Prescott, Nevada, Blevins, Bradley, Spring Hill and Lafayette schools)

(Source: Henderson State University)

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