Springtime has arrived in Arkansas, and in Conway Public Schools. This week is Spring Break. Next week, students will come back and complete the fourth nine weeks of instruction, which, for most people, seems to fly by amidst end-of-the-year testing, field trips, projects, activities, and of course, graduation.

Conway schools’ teachers and students have already begun planning for the 2016-17 Academic Year. Our teachers are meeting together and planning curriculum units in accordance with any standards changes that have been made. Counselors are meeting with students to work on course selection and make sure they are on track with all their credits and graduation requirements.

One thing our district has been working on is giving students more options for earning college credit while in high school. This gives them quite an advantage when they graduate, with a "head start" on their degree. Right now Conway High School students can earn college credit several different ways. They can get College Level Examination Credit, (CLEP) credit by taking the CLEP assessment and "testing" out of various classes at the college level. They can also take Advanced Placement courses. Our Advanced Placement program is very strong, with our students scoring in the top percentages in the state, and across the nation. Next year, Conway High School will offer 20 AP courses. Depending on a student’s score on the AP exam, and depending on where the student is attending college, the student can receive anywhere from 3-6 hours of credit from each AP exam. (Check with each individual college to see what different scores count for.)

Conway High School also offers concurrent classes. In a concurrent class, a student receives simultaneous credit for high school and college in the same course. The course meets a high school requirement and may also be counted towards college hours. These high school courses have been pre-determined to line up with the standards and curriculum from the college level. Right now CHS offers College Algebra, Introduction to College Writing, Academic Writing and Research, and Principles of Communication as concurrent courses. Next year they will add an education class. These classes are very popular and help our students maximize their learning while in high school.

With our Concurrent and Advanced Placement programs so successful, the logical next step seemed to be pursuing a planned-out "pathway" for a degree option for our students. We have partnered with the University of Central Arkansas to make this happen.

A plan is now in place for our students to be able to earn an AA degree from UCA while they finish high school. To earn an AA degree, a student must have 60 hours--15 must be actual hours from UCA and the rest can be transfer hours, AP, or concurrent. They may count 30 hours of AP credit toward the degree. The other requirements are: students must have a minimum composite ACT score of 20, with a 19 on reading and math subtests, and they must have a GPA of 3.0.

The cost for concurrent classes is only $30/class, which is extremely reasonable for a college class! In addition, for those classes that are actually taken at UCA, the University is offering a reduced tuition rate.

We hope parents will be excited as we continue to expand these options and help our students be more than ready for their next steps after high school.