Results of the Promise
The anticipated results of the El Dorado Promise were that it would produce an increase in higher education outcomes, that there would be improvements in academic achievements in the school district from kindergarten through 12th grade and that there would be positive changes in community and economic developments.
Increased Higher Eductation Outcomes
Improved College – Going Rates
Over 84% of the Promise-eligible 2016 EHS graduates are attending college. This percentage is significantly higher than both the current Arkansas college-going rate, at 50.1%, and the national rate at 65.9% (According to the Arkansas Department of Education). This number is also higher than the college-going rate of EHS graduates prior to the Promise, which was 60%.
EHS College-Going Rates
- EHS Graduates Attending College 2007-2015 with the Promise 82% 82%
- EHS Graduates Attending College 2004-2006 pre-Promise 62% 62%
University of Mississippi 2016
EL DORADO’S PROMISE TO YOU
Union County (Excluding El Dorado) and Comparison Districts, 1990-2016
Prior to the Promise, enrollment in the El Dorado School District had been on a steady decline, as had other districts in Union County and other comparable districts. Data indicates that while the overall enrollment number for the District is greater than it was when the Promise was announced, the more significant news is what the current enrollment looks like if compared to projections of where the district would be had the Promise not been implemented. Compared to the expected student enrollment, based on prior trends, El Dorado has experienced a 15.5% increase in enrollment above expectations (representing more than 600 students in the district that served more than 4,500 students in 2015-2016.) Comparative districts continued on the projected decline.
Higher Test Scores
Introducing students to pre-AP earlier has resulted in an increase in AP enrollments in high school. AP enrollment at EHS has increased 164% over the past 10 years. The number of AP classes offered has increased from three in 2000, to 19 classes now. From less than 100 students choosing AP courses, now well over 400 students select the most demanding classes. Even with the dramatic increase in the number of students taking AP courses, the passing rate of EHS students has remained steady.
In 2011, El Dorado School District was selected to be included in College Board’s AP Achievement List for Significant Gains in AP Access and Student Performance. From the 12,000 school districts who offer AP courses in the United States, only 388 districts were selected nationwide with only two from Arkansas. Everyone has higher expectations. AP courses are continually added as student demand indicates their need. At El Dorado High School, all AP courses are “open enrollment,” meaning any student can register for any AP class. Consequently, the academic culture of the staff and students has changed.
Community Response / Improvements
Immediately following the announcement of the Promise, you could see the attitude of the city change in a very positive way, and the attitude remains very positive today.
-Mike Dumas, El Dorado Mayor in 2007
An economic development tax was approved by the voters in April 2007, after the announcement of the Promise in January. The vote to pass this one-cent sales tax showed the community’s enthusiasm to support the Promise through economic improvements in El Dorado. The initial tax was passed in 2007 and extended through 2014. Voters renewed the tax in 2015 showing their continued desire for economic development in the community.
A portion of the funds raised through the initial tax increase went toward building a multipurpose conference center designed on the campus of South Arkansas Community College (South Ark), which opened in 2011. The El Dorado Conference Center is a joint endeavor of the city of El Dorado and SouthArk and has a unique design reflective of the area’s oil and timber heritage.
In September of 2007, an additional millage was passed to build a new high school. This was the first millage increase in the city since the 1970s. El Dorado High School welcomed students to the new campus in the Fall of 2011. Additionally, a new Arts and Entertainment District was opened in 2018 in downtown El Dorado. The Murphy Arts District has extensive plans to revitalize the downtown district and make El Dorado the entertainment hub of the south.
MAD includes an outdoor amphitheater, playscape and splash pad, a large music hall and a restaurant. Additional phases of the project will renovate three more historic structures to create additional art gallery space, performing arts venues, and hotel space.
Other businesses in El Dorado have also supported Murphy Oil’s effort to revitalize our community and school district by sponsoring additional programs for the students to extend the Promise culture throughout the district.