Formerly known as the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences (ASMS), the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science, and the Arts (ASMSA) is the only public, residential high school in the state of Arkansas and only one of sixteen in the country. They specialize in educating talented and motivated students who are interested in and have the capacity for mathematics and science as well as a passion for creativity, humanities, and the arts.
The concept of a residential math and science school in Arkansas came from, then state first lady, Hillary Clinton and, the director of the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Dr. Ronald Hart. Hillary Clinton recommended the idea to her husband, Governor Bill Clinton, as a way of helping the state meet the national education goal of having the United States produce the best math and science students in the world by the year 2000.
The Arkansas general Assembly approved the bill and enacted the foundation of the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences in 1991. The school formally opened in 1993 under the direction of the Arkansas Department of Education and its pioneering batch enrolled as juniors and graduated in 1995. In 2004, the state legislature passed an act that mandated the school to add an arts program and so, ASMSA was born. The act also moved the school into the University of Arkansas System.
The concept of the school was modeled after the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, which focus on mathematics, computer science, science, and the humanities. All of the school’s courses are taught at a higher level than most schools, which can earn students university credit at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as well as advanced high school courses for elective credit, where its graduates finish their two-year experience with an average of 45 college credit hours.
Student applications for ASMSA begin during the spring of students’ sophomore years. They submit the required application forms together with their transcript of records, SAT and/or ACT results, and three letters of recommendation. Once accepted, they will be enrolled as juniors. Failure to apply by this time means having to repeat the junior year upon acceptance.
Attending students stay at the non-coed dormitories inside the school campus where co-mingling is prohibited, aside from two approved co-mingling areas. They are supervised by full-time residential mentors.
All faculty members have at least a master’s degree in their specific fields and 45% of which have a doctorate or other terminal degree in their field.
ASMSA is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS). Its goal is “to foster, support, and advance the efforts of specialized schools whose primary purpose is to attract and academically prepare students for leadership in mathematics, science, and technology”.
ASMSA is also a founding member of the Coalition of Leaders for Advanced Student Success (CLASS), which works to ensure that the nation’s best and brightest students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in school and the workforce, regardless of economic status.