UCA, Mayflower partnership a model for the nation in education

A two-day collaboration between UCA and the Mayflower Public School District is a step toward forming an alliance that would ensure no child is left behind.

The partnership is a pilot project that resulted from a grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. UCA President Lu Hardin said that, if successful, the partnership could become a model for the nation.

?A collaboration of colleges and K-12 is the future,? he said. ?This collaboration is a giant first step. I truthfully believe that if test results in Mayflower improve over the next few years, we have a chance of becoming ?the Mayflower model?.?

Hardin?s comments came as part of a keynote address given, Friday, Nov. 7, at a luncheon for the UCA P-16 ?No Child Left Behind? collaboration with the Mayflower School District. The workshop was part of a partnership that has been built between UCA and the Mayflower School District as a result of a $3 million Title III grant awarded to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education through the U.S. Department of Education.

Arkansas was one of only 20 states that received such a grant. Hardin co-authored the proposal for the state of Arkansas while he was director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

The grant pairs higher education institutions with school districts that need help increasing student quality and student achievement. The college or university coordinates several staff development workshops each semester that bring in experts from across the state to work with public school teachers who not only learn how to better educate their students, but also receive three hours of college credit for their participation.

According to Hardin, one of the goals of ?No Child Left Behind? is to reach more students through better teacher training.

?Your involvement in this is important,? he said.

Hardin cited a recent study completed by Stanford University in which the performance of 400 fourth-grade students who ranked in the 50th percentile were analyzed after half were placed in classrooms with teachers who had good track records and the other half were placed with teachers who had poor track records.

?The students in the classes with the good teachers rose to the 75th percentile, but students in the classes with the poor teachers sank to the 20th percentile. You being here sends a strong message about the Mayflower School District,? he said.

The focus of the partnership between UCA and the Mayflower School District is increasing student performance in math and science. Hardin said educating students in math and science at the K-12 level is important for higher education. ?The Arkansas Challenge scholarship required students to take four math credits in high school long before it was required by the state,? he said. ?The statistics show that students who take a fourth year of math are less likely to need remediation in college.?

Dr. Carolyn Williams, associate dean of the College of Education, said the partnership between UCA and Mayflower is already paying off. ?The number of students passing in math and science in the Mayflower School District has doubled since the partnership began last spring,? she said.

The two-day staff development workshop, sponsored by the College of Education, was held at the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on the UCA campus.

-Jennifer Boyett