Arkansas Department of Education

Delta School Districts from Distress to Partnerships for Success


The Arkansas Department of Education contracted Dr. Fetterman to conduct a needs assessment and an empowerment evaluation of the lowest performing school districts in the state. The districts students have been scoring lower than the 25th percentile for the last 6 years. An empowerment evalution was conducted to assist them in a strategic partnership with the state.

This partnership with the state, school districts, and local community has rekindled hope and produced results. Significant gains have been made in the Elaine School District in such areas as discipline, parental involvement, teaching, the arts, internal communication, communication with students, teachers and the community, modeling behavior, student organization, community involvement and resources and materials in less than one year.

Similar gains have been made in the Altheimer Unified School District in less than a year. The improvements have been made in the areas of teaching, planning, classroom management, cooperation, motivation, resources, communication, assessment, positive relationships, and updating parents. These results were formally presented to the Arkansas State Board of Education. (Television and news coverage has been extensive and a few examples are provided below.)

A few photographics place these school districts in context. They provide a portrait of rural poverty and further situate the complexity of the problem. However, administrators, teachers, parents, and children in these school districts have great pride and a determination to improve.

Cotton Fields in Altheimer

Downtown Altheimer (Delta region Arkansas)



A brief video of one of the empowerment workshops is presented below to communicate the quality of engagement this process engenders.

(double click box above to view or YouTube)

Empowerment Evaluation in Altheimer Unified School District.

This brief video highlights the three steps in empowerment evaluation, including: 1) mission; 2) taking stock; and 3) planning for the future.  

(You may need to download the latest version of Quicktime to view it. Quicktime is free for Windows or Macs.)


Evaluation Reports and PowerPoint Presentations

Arkansas Department of Education

Interim Report on Districts in Phase III

March 10, 2003

PowerPoint Presentation About Empowerment Evaluation

to the State Board of Education

Improving School Performance Partnering for Success

Needs Assessment Report

March 11, 2002

Television Coverage and News Article

The partnership and the empowerment evaluation process has generated regular television and newspaper coverage. A few examples are provided below. 

(double click box above to view

or select YouTube)

2 Districts See Improvements

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


Dr. Fetterman has also provided educational technology services to the Arkansas Department of Education Technology Center. The idea is to leapfrog ahead instead of mastering old technology. In addition, Dr. Fetterman reverses the training process in Arkansas by teaching the students so they can teach their teachers and administrators. Newspaper and magazine articles provided additional insight into these efforts.

Net widens world for high schoolers

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Teaching Arkansas Children Well

Stanford Magazine Article