Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Academies of Central Arkansas is a joint transformation of the high school experience for all scholars in the Jacksonville North Pulaski, Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School Districts. The goal of the Academies is to bring relevance and rigor to our classrooms that aligns with a scholar’s post-secondary plans. In doing so, we create graduates who are prepared for what comes next – no matter if that next step includes college or post-secondary training, entry into the workforce or enlistment. Our graduates will be active participants in their own learning journey, benefiting from the systems and structures in place to support them along that path.

Academies offer students small learning communities within the larger, comprehensive high school campuses. These small learning communities (SLCs) create a personalized learning environment where students in each academy share the same teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, and academy coaches. Teachers within the academy model have weekly meetings where they meet to plan lessons across the curriculum, so that core content classes can be taught through the lens of the academy they are enrolled in. They will also this shared planning time to monitor individual student outcomes and implement interventions to ensure all students succeed academically and socially.

Partnerships with local businesses provide hands-on, authentic learning experiences for scholars in the academy that they have partnered with. Students have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers, participate in industry tours and visits, have access to a career mentor and job shadowing opportunities, have the opportunity to earn concurrent college credit and industry-recognized credentials, and to participate in a senior capstone project or an internship – all because of the strategic partnerships with local businesses that are developed within the academy model.

Yes! If after meeting with the school team that it is determined that student’s post-secondary plans would be better suited in a different academy, a scholar may switch their academy one time prior to graduation.

Yes! Academy schedules are structured so that students can take all their core academic classes, their chosen pathway courses, as well as participate in AP, Honors, Concurrent Credit and extra-curricular opportunities.

While it is our goal to provide all students with internship opportunities, successful acceptance as an intern is dependent upon several factors such as; internship availability at academy business partner organizations and applicant fit.

While graduates of the Academies of Central Arkansas will be better equipped for college and for a career because of the opportunities they receive through our model of teaching and learning, successful completion does not guarantee a graduate a job at one of our academy business partner organizations.

Scholars wishing to transfer to another high school in Pulaski County participating in the Academies of Central Arkansas must go through the district and state approved transfer/enrollment application windows like all other students in the state.

Students will take three pathway courses, one each during their sophomore, junior and senior years. These state-approved pathway courses will help students expand on their learning from the prior year, leading to the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials prior to graduating high schools.

We provide scholars with as many experiences as we can, but depending on the courses they successfully completed at their previous high school, it may not be possible for them to take all three of the desired pathway courses prior to graduation. The guidance counselor and academy coach at your new school can help you navigate course offerings and what you can expect your scholar’s experience to look like.

It is our goal that every student will graduate high school with an industry-recognized credential; however, that is dependent upon multiple factors. Students must take and pass the prerequisite classes that prepare students for industry-recognized credentialing exams and must pass the accrediting body’s approved exam. Each academy team will work to ensure success for all students preparing for this major accomplishment.

One of the key pillars to the Academies of Central Arkansas model is to incorporate teaming in each of the academies represented on campus. This means that core content teachers, CTE teachers and academy administrator and support staff share common planning time where they will meet to discuss individual student progress and to plan lessons that embed relevant CTE-learning objectives into the core classes of scholars within their academy. We call that “teaching through the lens,” and we know that it helps keep students engaged in their learning when they are applied correctly.

Each academy team of teachers has access to professional development from national experts to assist in this new framework.

There is no fee to be an academy partner! For successful implementation, this model requires business partners to contribute at their selected school(s) by donating their time and talent to our local scholars.There are two different levels of partnership within our model:

Pathway Partner – a pathway partner agrees to participate in two engagements with scholars and school teams per year. These engagements can take many forms, with the most common being; guest speaking, hosting industry tours, conducting mock interviews, providing curriculum/industry-recognized credentialing advice, allowing students to job shadow, by hiring interns or by participating in the annual career exploration event.

Academy Partner – an academy partner agrees to participate in all the engagements outlined above for a pathway partner, but they agree to do so with a pre-determined amount of in-kind donation of time, talent and equipment.

The team at the Academies of Central Arkansas has created a volunteer tracking system that is sent out monthly to academy partners. This tracking system allows partners to enter the number of people from their organization that were involved, the number of hours spent and the estimated value of the in-kind donation of time. This report will be shared with partners and other key community stakeholders annually, or at their request.

Many business leaders tell us that they have always tried to be engaged with local schools; however, the academy framework makes that engagement much easier and more meaningful for their employees. By having a dedicated point of contact (the academy coach), who facilitates the planning of engagement opportunities, helps streamline communication and prepare the business partner for what to expect. This creates a much more enjoyable experience for participating businesses.

Business partners also receive:

Access to a new pipeline of future employees – before they graduate from high school. Our academy high schools have more than 10,000 students currently enrolled.

Increased employee retention and satisfaction due to the meaningful engagement and volunteer opportunities that employees are able to participate in.

Recognition on the Academy of Central Arkansas website, school newsletters and other means of communication of your investment in building the future of our community and our workforce.

A summary of your organization’s involvement that can be shared with your stakeholders.

Increased prosperity for all in our communities by making our region an even greater place to live, learn and work.

While there is no specific job title or position that we have seen be most successful, it usually requires someone who either has a desire to work directly with our scholars or someone who can help coordinate the business partners internal resources to successfully complete various engagements at their partnering school. The team at the Little Rock Regional Chamber works to onboard new business partners to the model, so that our partners feel prepared and can meaningfully engage right away.

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