2018-2019 Annual Report – CWDSA


The Dr. Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy aims to improve educational achievement by all students from the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) and Jacksonville North Pulaski School District (JNPSD) with special attention to African American students and others who are at risk of academic failure due to socioeconomic disadvantage, or other factors.

Summary Narrative

1) Enhance recruitment and retention efforts to increase enrollment

  • CWDSA Kick-offs – Year kick off recruitment event used to engage and inform 300+ PCSSD High School students about the CWDSA program and its college pipeline to UA Little Rock, Philander Smith College, or UA Pulaski Technical College.
  • ACT Prep Express – Increased presence with PCSSD through ACT Prep Express and impacted 190 students utilizing 3 schools.
  • UA Little Rock All Majors Internship Fair – Required event for all CWDSA college students to gain experience speaking with potential employers.
  • 2019 Summer Bridge Program
    • To increase collegiate retention and acclimation by eliminating remediation and negative stigmas of higher education
    • Total Participation to Date:
      • Number of Summer Bridge Attendees – 64
    • 2019 Summer Bridge Program Results:
      • Reading – 23% (9 / 39)
      • Math – 93% (54 / 58)
      • Writing/English –  76% (34 / 45)

2) Strengthen student-friendly operations and customer service

  • Mentor Trainings – Standard onboarding training used to increase efficacy and efficiency in job performance with a heavy focus on customer.
  • Staffed second floor Help Desk

3) Improve diversity and inclusion efforts to provide a safe and inclusive environment for students

  • Aided/Volunteered in/Managed World Fest
    • Required students to attend
    • Provided volunteers to support program
    • Managed set-up, food distribution, vendors, and clean-up

4) Align financial and human resources to operate more effectively and efficiently

  • Decreased staff size without jeopardizing program efficacy

5) Promote student development, engagement, and leadership

  • Winter College Retreat – CWDSA’s annual winter retreat for current college students at all sites. Focused on re-energizing and motivating students for the upcoming Spring Semester. Sixty-five attendees with high levels of satisfaction.
  • Leadership Retreat – CWDSA’s retreat for 50 current PCSSD High School students involved with the program. Focused on preparing for standardized testing and addressing college concerns.

6) Other

  • Center for Teaching Effectiveness Workshop – Workshop for UA Little Rock faculty and CWDSA staff focused on developing classroom facilitation skills, techniques, and methods.

At A Glance

Coming soon

Assessment 1

Type of assessment (learning outcome or operational)

Operational (was planned to be student learning)

Activity or experience being assessed

ACT Prep Express

Assessment artifacts

Meeting with district leaders, principals, and counselors.

Focus Group with students by Dr. Thomas Barrett.

Time period assessment was done

Spring 2019 (meeting with district leaders, etc).

Summer 2019 (focus group with students)


Leaders expressed that they wanted more students to be impacted by ACT Prep Express and that they were willing to provide time during the school day for ACT Prep. Two of the four principals agreed that they want ACT Prep Express offered to all of their 11th graders. In addition, they are willing to explore a multi-day model for deeper ACT preparation.

Dr. Barrett will provide results by September by internal evaluator.

Continuous improvement process

Based on previous assessments (2017-2018) and meetings with district leaders, counselors, and teachers, the program will be expanded and integrated into the normal school day.

WHEN: ACT Prep will be offered in the school day to all 11th graders before the district-wide ACT test administration.

Stateholder involvement / Communication plan

We are currently working with stakeholders to integrate the new approach.

Assessment 2

Type of assessment (learning outcome or operational)


Activity or experience being assessed

FYE Transition

Assessment artifacts

Fall to Spring retention data analysis

Reflective writing response

Time period assessment was done

Summer 2019



Of the 69 CWDSA  students who enrolled at UA Little Rock during the fall 2018 semester, 60 returned for their spring semester.


See Appendix for breakdown of results.

A majority of students indicated that they learn best through visual demonstration or hands on learning. Students were somewhat confident in their writing and math skills, while indicating they would like a good job, a nice house. Several students mentioned wanting to help others and potentially work in the nursing field. Students expressed strong interest in Mrs. Avestine Wards’ financial presentation during the money management section. They had a desire to establish credit, and felt like this was info they were never told in high school.

An overwhelming amount of students mentioned that they struggled with time management and staying organized. Students indicated they had a tough time transitioning from high school to college due to the amount of work that each class gave, specifically FYE. Most students rated their semester as decent or good, sighting that their college and campus experience was disappointing. A lot of students mentioned numerous resources available to them on campus, and felt like they did have support. Students mentioned that they learned about perseverance and have a stronger desire to not give up when things get tough.

Continuous improvement process

Ensure that Dr. Harper is informed of the responses and results from last year’s FYE as he is teaching it now.

List of Recommendations:

  • Meet with students before and after class to hold casual conversation(s) and scheduled check-ins, as this is when I received most information about challenges and successes students were experiencing during their first year
  • “Highly Encourage” students to use google calendar, or a personal planner of some kind, as the majority indicated that they struggled with time management and procrastination
  • Students were focused on getting a good job, and being able to afford a house they wanted. I would re-emphasize the importance of each week’s topic and how it ultimately plays a role in preparing the student to reach their desired goals.
  • Constantly remind students about events and activities going on during the week, as many voiced that their campus experience could have been better.
  • A large number of students indicated that they learned best through hands on experience and visual examples.
  • While flexibility is great… students may also need more structured deadlines.
  • Don’t be afraid to “switch it up” in the middle of class. If the energy in the class is low then get them moving through group work or other activities that engage them.

WHEN: Depends on the instructor.

Stateholder involvement / Communication plan

There are ongoing discussions regarding the PEAW curriculum and the FYE courses being tailored for our populations.

Assessment 3

Type of assessment (learning outcome or operational)


Activity or experience being assessed

Through Leadership Institute, and the World Fest students will gain real world experience in collaboration and diversity programming.

Assessment artifacts

Observation and feedback from student leaders.

Time period assessment was done

Fall 2019 – Spring 2019


Large collaborative events like Worldfest, create the opportunity for quick wins and students to see the result of their leadership in a way that engages the greater campus community. Students took a stronger leadership role in this year’s WorldFest as compared to the first year, which was primarily led by full-time staff.

Continuous improvement process

Students structured and worked side by side with staff to create events like Homecoming, Worldfest, and other events that served the campus. This year we want to have a stronger tie to specific leadership challenges within the year. Also, mentors were highly active and we would like to provide more well-defined roles for specific projects  that could be used to enhance their future resumes.

WHEN: Fall 2019

Stateholder involvement / Communication plan

We will communicate this in mentor trainings, Leadership Institute, and other leadership training.

Priorities for Next Year

  • Provide ACT Prep Express during the day within high schools.
  • Prepare for spend down of grant dollars.
  • Solidify partnership with UA PTC.