Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Carleton Holt

Committee Member

Michael Miller

Second Committee Member

Kara Lasater


Career Readiness, College Readiness, Personalized Learning, School Partnership


This qualitative research study describes perceptions of Northwest Arkansas’ business, industry and post-secondary institutions as to the Don Tyson School of Innovation (DTSOI) and its ability to prepare students for Northwest Arkansas’ college and career needs. Designated as one of the first schools of innovation in Arkansas through ACT 601 of 2013 by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), the DTSOI employs Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in every aspect of curriculum. The DTSOI represents the first school in Arkansas to hold the distinction of holding both school of innovation status as well as being a public, district- conversion charter school. This model is the first in Arkansas to embrace a student-centered, time flexible, competency-based, blended, personalized learning experience. Students at SOI have the opportunity to attain their high school diplomas while also acquiring professional industry credentials, internship experience, early college experience, and even an Associate’s Degree. In addition to new curricular and instructional models, the DTSOI offers students deeper experiences in developing “soft or executive skills” deemed by Northwest Arkansas business, industry and post-secondary members as valuable employment traits. Created with combined effort from post-secondary educational partners, local businesses, and industry, DTSOI includes executive skills in every aspect of curriculum to promote student career readiness. Currently in the fourth year of operation (2017-2018), the program is predicated on being agile enough to both prepare students to excel in post-secondary education and career readiness, adapting as industry needs change. In this study, stakeholders were asked whether they see evidence of SOI’s success, based on their knowledge and perception of the school programs and interactions with DTSOI students.