CWDSA Annual Report 2016-17


Donaldson Scholars aims to improve the educational achievement for students in grades 9-12, with special attention to African American students and others who are at risk of academic failures, due to socioeconomic disadvantage or other factors. Our goals are to prepare students for success beyond high school, eliminate the need for remediation while increasing high school and college graduation rates.








We provide a springboard towards collegiate and professional success for at-risk students through innovative, experiential educational methods.


Promotes student development through intentional services, programming, and structures

Saturday Academy Mentor Training

College student staff were challenged to solve real-world problems and lead teams in order to achieve a goal. Through consistent rigorous training throughout the year, students were consistently refined to be stronger leaders. Student roles changed and responsibilities increased as they grew in leadership ability. During this academic year, 16 students went through the training.

Professional Development Workshops

Students participated in a three-day workshop that exposed them to key elements needed to enter and succeed within the professional environment. Topics included situational dress attire, F.I.R.E.S. training, basic computer workplace skills, and presentation techniques.

  • Standardized curricula for all programs.
  • Transitioned from the Compass Test to the new Accuplacer testing.
  • Approximately 200 students attended Dining Etiquette workshops.
  • Approximately 200 students attended Professional Dress, Hair, and Makeup workshops.
  • Approximately 100 students attended Public Speaking workshops.

Provides an environment in which students can pursue their educational goals

Successfully recruited at least 80 students to the Fall 2017 semester from PCSSD through CWDSA.

Students attended ACT Retreat Weekends and engaged in educational, fun programming that helped them gain confidence regarding the ACT. Dr. Joe Johnson and other leaders were present to discuss anxieties related to transitioning to college and how to become the leader they want to be. Students also engaged in cultural experiences like eating at Osaka Japanese at the hibachi grill, exposing them to life outside of their comfort zones. College student leaders sat at each table and discussed their college experience with the high school students. Two retreat weekends were held, with a total of 37 students attending.

Eliminated the 3-week bridge and replaced with a more comprehensive Senior Success program occurring in the Fall and Spring semesters, which included two weeks of online instruction followed by face-to-face instruction for 11 days. Seventy-four students participated. See results under Assessment.

Success coaches completed the Fostering Success Coaching Program, Level I for their certification at Western Michigan University in January. Ms. Owens has continued to Level II.


Here is a breakdown of participation in the Summer Bridge program since 2014. The percentages in the third through fifth columns reflect pass rates of those in the cohort who required remediation in those subjects, not of the entire cohort. Note that in 2017 the program was changed from a 3-week program to a more comprehensive Senior Success program as described above.

Cohort Number of participants Bypassed developmental reading Bypassed developmental writing Bypassed developmental mathematics
Summer 2014 58 56% 62% 52%
Summer 2015 55 64% 78% 96%
Summer 2016 117 53% 69% 93%
Summer 2017 74 58% 70% 84%

CWDSA has a myriad of assessment strategies and has internal and external evaluators. The internal evaluators held regular focus groups and met with the team weekly in order to ensure that the ongoing assessments are in line with the program’s goals. We held a successful assessment retreat in the Spring in order to line up details for next year. This provided us the first opportunity to truly build the assessment into the curricula and gain data more organically from program participants. The report is currently being compiled and will be made available in October 2017. Please find a summary of the types of assessment that are currently in place, as provided by Dr. Greg Barrett and Dr. John Kuykendall, CWDSA’s internal evaluators.

Diagnostic Data. The internal evaluators followed the suggestions of the External Evaluators that the COMPASS data be kept in the CWDSA database for future comparisons with the Acuplacer data.

Student Learning Outcomes. We took the external evaluators’ suggestion and using the Chapter 4 “Setting Objectives with Intended Learning Outcomes” from the book Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses by Mary Huba and Jann Freed, we are attempting to develop and write-up learning outcomes for each CWDSA activity. If there are specific learning objectives within one of the disciplines in which we are preparing the students for the ACT and Acuplacer examinations, we use those. We try to incorporate those learning objectives into each our qualitative interview protocols and survey instruments to measure the success at achieving each of the objectives.

Focus Group Interview Data. As student learning objectives outcomes are articulated we are adjusting the focus group interview protocols to align with them. We are in the process of developing some ordinal analyses to identify how many groups and what proportion within each group reached consensus about various perceptions of their non-cognitive skill development. This summer we attempted to take whole classes for Summer Program (4 day residential program at UA Little Rock or Philander Smith College for Saturday Academy high school students) focus groups to provide a more randomized approach to sample selection. We also took them during class time when it would not create problems for the students’ classroom learning.

Follow-up Data on Students. Though we have discussed with CWDSA staff how we might try to locate and follow-up with students who have left the program or who didn’t enroll in college following the high school portion of the Donaldson Scholars programs to provide the equivalent of an exit interview regarding why they quit the program and what their original motives had been for enrolling in the program in the first place, we have not yet accomplished this. Neither have we conducted interviews with parents to date. We still need to discuss with the writing faculty how we might incorporate non-obtrusive data collection from the students by using their experiences in the CWDSA programs as part of their writing exercises and collecting those exercises for later analysis. We still need to begin the process of using focus group interviews, surveys, and individual interviews with CWDSA students who have completed their first year of college to measure their experiences and how their participation in CWDSA programs may have helped them be successful.

Student Employee Surveys and Instructor Surveys. Both are still in the planning stages and it is not too late for them as they were just completed.

Ongoing Data Collection

Focus Groups. A few days after the External Reviewers initial visit, on July 29, 2016, Dr. Barrett conducted a focus group with the faculty from the Summer Bridge program and Dr. Kuykendall conducted a focus group with student participants in the program. Dr. Barrett also received written feedback from the faculty on July 30, 2016 (See Assessment Appendix 1 for Written Faculty Feedback).

Dissemination of CWDSA Program Results

Roundtable presentation made at the Spring American Educational Research Association Conference in San Antonio, TX: Determining the Effectiveness of a Summer Bridge Program: Eliminating Developmental Coursework, Achieving Scholarships, and Developing Academic and Non-Academic Skills for College Readiness. Authors: Barrett, Kuykendall, Sherry J. Robertson, Amber R. Smith, and Jonathan Bobo. Published in conference proceedings.

A full paper entitled Growth of Innovation: Saturday Academies will be presented by Drs. Barrett and Kuykendall at the National Symposium on Student Retention meeting in Destin, Florida in November. Amber Smith will present An Administrator’s Woes: Transformational Leadership in an Innovative, Minority-Serving Organizations Aimed at Remediation Elimination.

Priorities for next year

  • Conduct a survey and obtain an average customer service score of 9 (on a scale of 1-10) when responding to a customer’s needs.
  • Create a strong social media presence through regular postings and interactive challenges.
  • Streamline enrollment process and regular communication with enrolled students.
  • Clarify and communicate progression through program.
  • Create master curricula suite that standardizes Saturday Academy, Bridge, and Leadership Development curricula in an easy online platform.
  • Establish partnerships that allow for students to connect year-round to productive programming.

Appendix: Fast Facts

  • CWDSA was founded in 2014 through a desegregation settlement of 10 million dollars from PCSSD.
  • The organization is a partnership between Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, The Joshua Interveners, and Pulaski County Special School District.
  • CWDSA has impacted over 600 students since its inception in 2014.
  • CWDSA has saved families over $750,000 in tuition expenses for remedial coursework.
  • Including the high school program and summer bridge, students have collectively bypassed over 750 remedial courses.
  • In the summer 2017 cohort, students collectively bypassed 121 remedial courses.