University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

News From The Capitol

In AR Legislature on January 21, 2015 at 4:51 pm

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Scholarship Deferment

In its first meeting of the 2015 legislative session, the Senate Committee on Education this morning heard Rep. Nate Bell’s presentation of HB 1011 that would allow Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship recipients to defer college entrance for up to two years for military or community service or family/medical emergency. According to Bell, other state scholarships already include this allowance. HB 1011 passed the House yesterday with a vote of 99-0, and the Senate education committee voted to move the bill on to the full Senate with a Do Pass recommendation.

Paperwork Reduction

The House Committee on Education also held its first meeting of the session yesterday. Rep. Kim Hendren presented HB 1051 that would form a public school efficiency and evaluation task force to examine where regulations and reporting requirements may create excessive paperwork for teachers and administrators. Several committee members noted that their teacher constituents regularly express frustration that paperwork infringes upon teaching time. Rather than appointing another task force, however, committee members agreed the issues could be addressed by the House K-12 Subcommittee on Education chaired by Rep. Charlotte Douglas. Douglas committed to completing the work by December 2016 as specified in HB 1051, and Hendren pulled down the bill. 

Several education bills are on committee agendas for next week, and News from the Capitol will keep you posted.

Office for Education Policy announces two new resources for stakeholders

In The View from the OEP on January 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Overall Education Points and News From The Capitol

As the legislative session gets underway, OEP is providing two new resources to ensure that stakeholders have quick and easy access to the reliable infomation they need.


Overall Education Points are one-page summaries of current issues in Arkansas education.  Created to provide stakeholders with a quick source for key points and resources, Overall Education Points provide a handy refresher for those familiar with the topic, or a speedy introduction for those new to the conversation.  This week’s OEPoints topic is charter school facilities funding.



capital picNews From The Capitol is a great source for news from the House and Senate Education Comittee meetings. OEP is attending the meetings and will share key information in News From The Capitol.  To have the information you need delivered to your email, sign up for the the OEP blog (it’s easy- just scroll to the bottom on the page, enter your email address and click “Sign Me Up”).



What’s Ahead for Education During the 2015 Legislative Session

In The View from the OEP on January 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm

2-24-14 Candidate FilingThis week marks the start of the 90th General Assembly and the inauguration of Arkansas’ new governor Asa Hutchinson. The 2015 legislative session could mean some big changes for education; here’s a round up on what to expect in education legislation for 2015.

Consolidation/Act 60

It looks like changes may finally be coming to the controversial school consolidation law, Act 60, which requires districts with an enrollment of less than 350 students for two years in a row to merge with a neighboring district. Both during and after his campaign, Governor Hutchinson has stated that he would support amending the law to allow districts at risk of consolidation that are “academically performing and financially sound” to receive a waiver from the consolidation requirement. A recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article confirmed that this issue will likely come up during the legislative session.

Computer Science

A major part of Governor Hutchinson’s education platform during his campaign was to ensure that computer science classes were offered in every Arkansas high school within four years. Hutchinson has stated that he will ask the legislature to change state law to allow computer science classes to count as a core graduation credit in math or science.

Common Core/PARCC

Gov. Hutchinson has stated he will request a “thorough review” of the Common Core standards by the Education Commissioner and a task force of educators. In the Legislature, three potential bills related to the Common Core are being discussed: a bill to repeal or significantly alter the Common Core standards, a bill to limit the amount of data that can be collected by the US Department of Education, and a bill to place a moratorium on PARCC testing. In other words, it looks Common Core will continue to be a hot button issue in 2015 and the legislative session could lead to changes in the standards and tests being used in Arkansas schools. To learn more about the common arguments for and against the Common Core, check out our report The Common Core Debate. You can also check out our blog for details about PARCC testing, including what PARCC questions will look like and what tests will be administered.

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Potential changes to K-12 funding include a raise in stating pay for teachers and proposals to address the school facilities funding shortfall, an estimated $65 million gap between available funding and needs.

We expect that other education issues will come up over the course of the session, and we at the OEP will keep you posted!


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