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El Dorado Promise improves student scores - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

El Dorado Promise improves student scores

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EL DORADO, Ark. -
Paying for college can be a tremendous hardship for families. From juggling other financial obligations, to dealing with financial aid and graduating with a load of student debt. But what if the high school you attended footed the bill for college? That is what has been going on for almost a decade at one Arkansas school.  

Several surrounding districts have come calling to consider implementing a similar program; including schools in Tyler, Texas, New Haven , Connecticut, Denver, Colorado and Arkadelphia, Arkansas. 

It is an effort called the El Dorado Promise, a $50 million  gift, from the Murphy Oil Corporation, that pays up to 100 percent of college tuition for it's recipients. "It's kind of like letting us know that we do get the promise and it's just like we are signing our name and we know that we have the promise that we are allowed to go to college," said senior Emily Hall.

There are currently over 75 students in El Dorado public schools who have enrolled through the district's school choice program.
Although other communities are looking to replicate the  promise, the school's sole provider is the Murphy oil company. Others will have to build their scholarship pool from fundraising.

The program is supposed to do more than just pay college bills. It's meant to boost the economy, by providing an educated workforce, and by encouraging families to stay and work in the area. "We know this sets us apart because no one else in our area does what we do for our students with the promise," said Bonnie Haynes.

The promise is available to all students who graduate from the high school, and have been a student since at least the ninth grade. Now the program is offered to students who live in neighboring districts and want to transfer in to attend school in the district.
 
Since the program began, a 30 year enrollment decline has stopped and enrollment grew by 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, Surrounding districts, Parker's Chapel has 215 9 through 12th grade students. The Norplet has 120 student enrollment for 9 through 12th grade students.  The Smackover school district stands at 250 enrolled students.

"These are students who have worked hard they have graduated from college. So a group of us got together 8 years ago and and came up with our academic signing day," said Haynes.

A  report released by the University of Arkansas shows promise students out-scored their peers by 14 % in math skills and by 17 % in literacy.

Ashley hall it's amazing i remember in the 5th grade when we were told that we were getting the promise and we were getting to go to college...some kids where crying some where clapping it's an amazing thing that El Dorado gets to bring to the students. 

There are currently over 75 students in El Dorado public schools who have enrolled through the district's school choice program.




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