2020 Graduations and Senior Resources


2020 Graduations and Senior Resources

Come together

Come together

Covid-19 affects education by Brenttia O. Clayton

Special to the Democrat-Gazette 

Brenttia O. Clayton is a fourth-grade ELA Teacher, 2020 Teacher of the Year, and founder of Teachable Moments.

May 21, 2020

“We Are the World” is a 1985 classic written by the late Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. This song speaks of uniting the world when we need it most. Fast-forward 35 years later and those words seem more fitting for our current season.

The covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the world and resulted in Arkansas schools being closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year. The closing has shaken not only the parents as they try to navigate resources for unexpected homeschooling, but also teachers and school administrators.

This pandemic has left parents and educators wondering what the possible effects of long school closures on children’s short-term learning and long-term success might be, especially for children who lack sufficient resources.

There is no surprise that one size does not fit all when it comes to education. Unfortunately, in this case, the achievement gap has been stretched even more due to a number of disparities, one being socioeconomic status. Children with two college-educated parents may get a lot more help and enrichment than those who don’t, especially if their parents are financially stable and have access to technology on top of flexible work schedules….

Read more….


May 15 Newsletter

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Want Kids to Succeed

Want kids to succeed

April 27, 2020

As a parent, I will do anything I can to help my child succeed and excel. If that means sacrificing financially, our family has and is willing to do this. However, no family should have to struggle to make sure their child gets the best education.

My son Spencer struggles with anxiety, which has a major impact on his learning abilities and his social comfort in certain settings. Traditional schools are great, but traditional simply does not work for Spencer. It is important for children, and their parents, to have options when it comes to where and how they receive an education. Just like all of our children have different personalities and talents, they learn differently too.

I am confident that a new learning environment for Spencer, one that takes his anxiety-driven behavior issues into consideration, would be a game changer. I believe in his abilities and his desire to learn, but without the right environment, we are grappling with issues out of his control. Spencer's success in education will not only provide him a better future, but it will also give him the confidence he needs to make a positive impact on society. Isn't that what we all want for our children? A program like the Succeed Scholarship would not only change the trajectory of Spencer and other children's lives, but it would also impact families in a way that would be felt for generations.



Opportunity to Thrive

Opportunity to Thrive

April 25, 2020

Perhaps you have heard the term school choice, but many may not understand what it really means and what an impact it can have on a family. To me, it means my daughter, who has a speech disability, can go to a school that meets her specific needs.

My daughter Taylor has a disability called speech apraxia, a motor speech disorder that causes her to have problems saying sounds, syllables and words. Having a child with a disability is a unique challenge, but it can be even more of a challenge when it comes to finding a school that will best fit their learning needs. Thanks to our ability to choose the right place for Taylor, she is able to attend a school that offers one-on-one teaching and the therapy she needs to succeed. Before she had this opportunity, Taylor struggled with reading, but now reads to me, which is music to this momma’s ears! More than that, I have seen her self-confidence rise tremendously because she has been given an opportunity for success, not set up for failure and frustration.

This incredible opportunity for Taylor and our family is due to the Succeed Scholarship Program. Before receiving the scholarship, we had to either borrow money or choose between paying a bill or paying tuition. The Succeed Scholarship allows us an opportunity to place our daughter in a learning environment where she has teachers who understand her condition and give her what she needs.

This is simple. Parents and guardians are the best voices for their children. If we don’t stand up for our children and get them the help they need, who will? We cannot risk allowing them to fall behind in a school that is not right for them. Every child has different needs and every child deserves an educational opportunity to best meet those needs.




Public School Choice FAQ's

Public School Choice FAQ’s

Deadline to apply is May 1, 2021 

This information in these FAQ’s has been provided by the Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education  application to transfer.

You can find a list of Arkansas School Superintendents here.

Visit this page on our website for more information about education options in Arkansas.

Public School Choice Eligibility

Any student may apply for a Public School Choice transfer from the resident district to a district in which s/he does not reside unless one of the districts involved has claimed an exemption from participation in school choice pursuant to an active federal desegregation order. Students cannot use Public School Choice to transfer to a different school within their resident district.  A school district lacks capacity when it has reached
at least 90% of the maximum authorized student population in a program, class, grade level, or school building. Priority for Siblings:  YES  Deadline to Apply is May 1 

Opportunity School Choice

A student may only use Opportunity School Choice: a) To transfer from a public school that has a rating of “F” to a school that does not have a rating of “F” under Ark. Code Ann. §§6-15-2105 and 6-15-2106; or b) To transfer from a school district that has been classified as a school district in need of Level 5-intensive support to a school district not classified in need of Level 5-intensive support under Ark. Code Ann. §§6-15-2913 or 6-15-915. A school or district lacks capacity when it has reached at least 95% of the maximum authorized student population in a program, class, grade level, or
school building. Priority for Siblings: NO  Deadline to Apply is May 1

What does “lack of capacity” mean?

“Lack of capacity” means a district does not have space for a student because the district has reached at least at least 90% in the case of Public School Choice or at least 95% in the case of Opportunity School Choice of the maximum number of students allowed in a program, class, grade level, or school building. This is based on the student to teacher ratios set in the DESE Rules Governing Class Size and Teaching Load

What is my “resident district” or “nonresident district” for school choice?

The resident district is the traditional public school district your student is assigned to attend based on where you live. The nonresident district is the district in which your family does not live. School choice is the process of requesting a transfer for your student from the district in
which you live to a district in which you do not live.

What is the difference between an interdistrict transfer and an intradistrict transfer?

An interdistrict transfer is between two different school districts. An intradistrict transfer means a transfer between two schools within the same school district.

How do I find out if my school has a letter grade of “F” or my district is in need of Level 5-
intensive support?

School letter grades are available on the Division’s My School Info website at https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov. Districts that are classified as in need of Level 5-intensive support are required to notify parents of this status and of the availability of the Opportunity School Choice option. Families may also find this information by contacting their resident district or by contacting the Division at the number listed at the end of this FAQ.

Can I apply for both types of school choice transfers in the same year?

Yes, if your student meets the eligibility requirements for both types of school choice. Your application for Public School Choice must be sent to both your resident and nonresident districts. Opportunity School Choice applications must be sent to both the resident and nonresident districts, but also must be sent to the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) at the address below:

Office of the Commissioner
ATTN: Opportunity School Choice
Four Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201

Why is gender and race/ethnicity information collected on this form?

Information about a student’s gender, race, or ethnicity is collected for data reporting purposes. The data is reported annually to the House and Senate Education Committees, as required by Ark. Code Ann. §6-18-227(f)(2)(B). This information cannot be used by districts in deciding whether to accept or reject an application.

Can a district deny my application for school choice?

Yes. A district may deny an application if the district has reached capacity, if the district has claimed a conflict with participation in school choice due to an active federal desegregation court order, or in the case of Public School Choice, if the student’s resident district has reached its net maximum limit on school choice transfers. The net maximum limit on Public School Choice transfers is set at 3% of the student population of a district. Students who are denied a Public School Choice transfer due to the numerical net maximum limit retain priority for a transfer until July 1 and are reconsidered when the resident district is no longer at the numerical net maximum limit.

A district may not deny an application for school choice based on an applicant’s previous academic achievement, athletic or extracurricular ability, handicapping conditions, English proficiency level, or previous disciplinary proceedings, with the exception of an expulsion from another district.
For more information, see the DESE Rules Governing Public School Choice. The Rules can be found on the Division website at http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/legal/rules/current or by contacting the Division at the number listed at the end of this FAQ document.

What does “currently expelled” mean?

When a school district expels a student, the expulsion is for a set period of time. During that period of time, the student is considered “currently expelled.” If a student is still within the time period of his/her expulsion, a nonresident district may deny his/her application for school choice transfer.

Is there anything I can do if my application is denied?

Families may appeal a denial to the State Board of Education. The deadlines and procedures for appealing are in the DESE Rules Governing Public School Choice. The Rules can be found on the Division website at http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/legal/rules/current. If you feel the denial of your student’s application is discriminatory, please contact the Division at the number listed at the end of this FAQ document.

Can I request a specific school?

Yes, but depending on the district’s available space, you may be offered placement at a different school within the district of choice.Opportunity Schoo  Choice allows a student to transfer to another district (an “interdistrict” transfer) or another specific school which may be in the resident district (an “intradistrict” transfer) or another district, so long as that school does not have a rating of “F” and the district is not in need of Level 5-intensive support. Under Opportunity School Choice, you should list the specific school you wish to attend. The district may be able to offer a different school placement if it lacks capacity at the requested school of choice. Under Public School Choice, the transfer must be to another district (interdistrict). Although you may request a specific school, the district is not required to place you in the requested school. Districts may deny a request for a specific school while still granting the Public School Choice application for placement in a school not requested. Often, this is due to lack of capacity in the requested school.

Can my district decide not to participate in school choice?

No, however some districts may claim a conflict with participation in school choice due to an active federal desegregation court order or court approved plan. These districts must notify DESE of this conflict annually. DESE reviews these requests and the relevant court orders and sends a letter to the district. These letters can be found on the Division’s website at http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/legal/school-choice or by contacting the Division at the number listed at the end of this FAQ document.

Are there special school choice opportunities available to students of military families?

The deadline to apply for school choice is May 1, but military families may apply for school choice at any time during the year, so long as they meet the requirements below: If a student has a parent or guardian who is an active duty member of the military and who has been transferred to and resides on a military base, then the student’s parent or guardian may submit a request for a school choice transfer under the Public School Choice Act of 2015 or the
Opportunity School Choice Act. The application must be filed within fifteen (15) days of the parent’s or guardian’s arrival on the military base. The family must provide military transfer orders and proof of residency on the military base to the districts along with the school choice application.

Where can I find more information?

For more information, please see the DESE Rules Governing Public School Choice. The Rules can be found on the Division website at  http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/legal/rules/current or by calling the Division at (501) 683-008

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