Apr 15, 2022 - News

Colleges team up to make school more accessible

Illustration of a graduation mortarboard with a "skip" symbol on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

NWA institutions are taking steps to make it easier to get into and afford college.

What's happening: NorthWest Arkansas Community College, the University of Arkansas' Walton College of Business and Springdale school district's Don Tyson School of Innovation entered into an agreement this week that will allow high school students at the School of Innovation to earn college credit through NWACC that will be accepted at the Walton College.

  • NWACC will offer the credits at a reduced rate, Christine Davis, dean of business and computer information systems at NWACC, told Axios.

Context: This is part of NWACC's early college experience program, which allows students at various NWA high schools to earn college credit.

  • The School of Innovation is a STEAM-focused (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) school that emphasizes flexibility in learning, such as virtual learning or electives geared toward in-demand careers.

What it means: Upon high school graduation, students in the program will have enough credits to either spend just one semester at NWACC completing an associate degree before applying to transfer to the U of A, or they can apply to go straight to the U of A as a second-semester sophomore, Davis says.

Yes, and: The U of A may soon drop ACT requirements for incoming students who have at least a 3.2 high school GPA, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

  • The faculty senate will vote on the matter May 4, and it will need final approval from the provost, chancellor and board of trustees.

The intrigue: Lessening the emphasis on standardized tests is a shift in academia. GPA is a better indicator of retention rates, and poorer students tend to score lower on the ACT, according to a presentation by Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions at the university.

  • "I have a history of believing in scores. But I don't anymore," McCray told the Democrat-Gazette, adding that other universities such as the University of Kansas and the University of Oklahoma also have made testing optional.
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