University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Concerned about Arkansas’ Teacher Pipeline? Come to the OEP conference!

In The View from the OEP on March 13, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Do you want to learn about new research examining the supply and demand for teachers in the state, and learn how districts are recruiting and retaining great teachers?  Come hear from students, district leadership, researchers, ADE staff, and national leaders on teacher talent at the 2018 OEP Conference.

There is no cost to attend but space is limited, so register now!

Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Time: 8:30am to 3pm
Location: Heifer International in Little Rock



Arkansas’ Teacher Pipeline:

What we know, what we are doing, and what more we could be doing.

Saroja Warner will present the Keynote on talent management in our education system.  Dr. Warner is the Director of Educator Preparation Initiatives at CCSSO where she directs initiatives that support state authorities to ensure educators enter the workforce ready to advance student learning, represent the demographic diversity of K12 students, and lead schools that support student achievement.

Keith Look was featured by Education Week while he was the Principal of the lowest-performing high school in Kentucky.  Currently the Superintendent of Danville, Kentucky, Dr. Look will share his experience in attracting, hiring, and supporting talented teachers to a high-poverty, ‘turnaround’ school.

Breakout sessions feature speakers and panels discussing research, practice, and policy surrounding teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention.

  • Who Needs Teachers?  An Exploration of Supply and Demand in Arkansas Districts
  • Increasing the Teacher Pipeline: The Teacher Cadet Model (Student panel)
  • What’s Up in Teacher Prep? (Higher Ed panel)
  • Supporting the Teacher Pipeline: Leadership Support Systems
  • Arkansas Teacher of the Year: Courtney Cochran
  • Quitting Your Day Job: An Analysis of Teacher Retention in Arkansas
  • Success and Opportunity in Talent Management (District panel)
  • Growing Your Own Teachers; Why and How
  • The Arkansas Academy for Educational Equity: Boosting the Effectiveness of Early Career Teachers in High-Poverty Schools
  • Arkansas Teacher Corps: Going Where Needed
  • Enhancing the Teacher Pipeline through Teacher Leadership
  • Ensuring Access to Effective Educators: Equity Labs

Lunch will be provided, professional development certificates will be available, and there is no cost to attend. Space is limited. Register now- and we’ll see you there!


Breaking the Poverty Cycle- tips from CPI

In The View from the OEP on March 6, 2018 at 1:59 pm


Here at OEP, we are always excited to see news that Arkansas is making a difference for students, and a new report highlights a program where low-income parents are earning college degrees and certificates at twice the rate of their community college peers.  This is great news!

What is the program?
The Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), has been in place for over a decade and has provided education and training to more than 30,000 low-income and mostly single-parent Arkansans.  The ‘secret’ to the program seems simple: start with an assessment of a student’s skills, weaknesses and career goals, identify barriers that these non-traditional students face, and provide resources and support to help them be successful.
The main resource for students is a case manager. Case managers, who serve between 40 and 80 students each, begin with an assessment of each student’s skills, weaknesses and career goals, then provide a variety of supports based on the student’s needs.
According to the report, CPI case management services include:
•Hands-on Advising and Career Planning. This includes academic and skill assessment, aptitude and interest inventory, career plan development, and accountability measures to monitor class attendance and student progress.
•Family support, including financial support for childcare and transportation expenses.
•Coursework support, including funds available for textbooks, calculators, and some technology support.
•Employment support services, from resume writing, to interview preparation and job application completion.
How do we know it works?
An external evaluation compared nine years of CPI participants to matched comparison pools of similar low-income parents who did not participate in CPI, and to the general community college population who did not receive the CPI treatment. These comparison groups were matched for age, gender, income prior to entering the program, and locale.  The researchers compared certificate and degree outcomes, as well as income levels one year after leaving the program.  Results are below:
  • CPI participants graduate with a degree or certificate at higher rates. More than 52% of all 27,517 low-income participants enrolled in the CPI between 2006 and 2013 graduated with a degree or certificate compared to a 24% completion rate of Arkansas community college students who did not participate in CPI.
  • CPI students of color complete a degree or certificate at higher rates. Forty five percent of all African American CPI participants have completed at least one higher education degree or certificate, compared to only 17% of African American non-CPI community college students students in Arkansas. Fifty-six percent of Hispanic CPI students exited with at least one degree or certificate compared to only 14% of Hispanic community college students who did not participate.
  • CPI participants complete a degree or certificate more quickly. Sixty two percent of CPI students who enrolled in 2008 had completed a degree or certificate within five years, and nationally only 39% of students who enrolled at a public two-year college completed a degree or certificate in this same time period.
  • CPI students earn more money. CPI graduates who enrolled in 2011 earned $3,100 more in their first year than their counterparts from the same region and field of employment, despite having earned similar incomes prior to entry into the program.
Where does the funding come from?
CPI was established in 2005 utilizing existing dollars from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds. A part of the evaluation focused on the Return on Investment and found 179 percent return on the state’s initial investment in the program when combined with increased tax revenues.

We are excited to spread the word about the Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative and how it is effectively supporting low-income parents as they get the education and experience needed to achieve economic self-sufficiency.  We hope that your school is doing the same for your students! Here at OEP, we feel there are several aspects of CPI that all schools could learn from and use to help students be successful.
1) Start with determining where students are, where they want to go, and what might get in their way. In the CPI program, assessment information is collected and student goals are identified as the starting point. Possible barriers are identified and supports are put into place to help- be it finding childcare or providing vouchers for gas.  This student-centered planning is a great practice for those working with students at every level. Are students in your school having their goals heard and receiving help to overcome the obstacles to success?

2) Monitor student progress. In the CPI program, student progress towards educational and career goals is closely monitored, and supports are put in place as needed. Case managers understand the participants holistically, and draw no boundaries around the kind of supports needed to help a student persist in his or her journey toward a better life.  How is your school monitoring student progress and what steps are you taking to intervene to help students meet their goals?


3) Gather lots of data.  The Arkansas legislature required CPI to keep a database regarding degrees earned, job placement and retention and wages for their students.  According to the report, these data are unique in the country and have allowed a more rigorous evaluation of educational and economic outcomes of the program that are typical in the field. Arkansas educators and policymakers benefit from a robust K-12 longitudinal data system, but we often don’t consider how our students do once they leave our school, and but we don’t yet have helpful connections to college or workforce outcomes for our students.  As a state, we need to ensure these data are available so we can determine how well we are preparing students for college and careers. How is your school gathering information about student outcomes once they leave your building?

4) Make meaningful comparisons.  The matched comparison model used by the researchers compares CPI participants with similar low-income parents who are not participating in CPI and with Arkansas community college students as a whole. These comparisons allow policymakers to make informed decisions about the value of such investments in the future. How has your school identified a meaningful comparison group?
5) Think creatively about your funding.  CPI re-purposed existing funds in an innovative way, which led to better outcomes for students. Does your school examine how effectively funds are being used or just continue to fund the same projects while adding new ones?

More good news for Arkansas students!

In The View from the OEP on February 27, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Funding Gaps

Last week, we highlighted the great opportunity provided to juniors through Arkansas’ universal ACT policy, and today we share good news about school funding! Finding similar patterns as those in our most recent OEP funding analysis, the new report released today from Education Trust compares school funding across the U.S. and within each state, and the results look great for Arkansas students!

The Ed Trust report examines funding from an equity standpoint: how the revenues of districts that serve higher percentages of students living in poverty or students of color compare with those of their counterparts. The analysis compares the average revenues of groups of districts (the quartiles with the highest poverty and lowest poverty districts, for example).

More simply, this Education Trust report (as have past reports from the group) examines the extent to which the states provide equitable school funding to traditionally disadvantaged students. In some states, students in poor districts have continued to receive fewer educational resources than students in wealthy districts. The good news is that Arkansas is NOT one of those states! In fact, school funding in Arkansas has been mostly progressive for the past 15 years or so — for the most part, students in lower-income districts (and in districts serving more students of color) have received higher levels of education funding per pupil.

How do the revenues of High-Poverty Districts compare with those of Low-Poverty Districts?
Across the country, the highest poverty districts receive about $1,000, or 7 percent, less per pupil in state and local funding than the lowest poverty districts.  As can be seen in Figure 1 below, in Arkansas the highest poverty districts receive $895, or 10 percent, MORE per pupil than the lowest poverty districts. Utah leads the nation with the highest poverty districts receiving 21 percent more funding than the lowest poverty districts, but Arkansas ranks 8th in the nation for the progressive education funding related to poverty rates.
Figure 1. Arkansas State and Local Revenues by Poverty Quartile
Poverty Funding

How do the revenues of districts serving the most Students of Color compare with the revenue of those serving the fewest Students of Color? 

Across the country, districts serving the most students of color receive about $1,800, or 13 percent, less per student than districts serving the fewest students of color. As can be seen in Figure 2 below, Arkansas districts serving the most students of color receive $967, or 10 percent MORE per pupil than the districts serving the fewest students of color.  In this analysis, Ohio leads the nation with the districts serving the most students of color receive 28 percent more in state and local funds per student than districts serving the fewest students of color. Arkansas ranks 6th in the nation for the progressive funding in place with regard to students of color.

Figure 2. Arkansas State and Local Revenues by Student of Color Enrollment Quartile
SOC Funding

Where Does the Revenue Come From?

In addition to differences in the amount of revenue provided to districts, the report examines the share of school funding dollars that come from state and local sources. On average, about 50 percent of school funding dollars come from local dollars. The report’s authors note that “state dollars are the funds that legislatures can and should use” to counteract differences in local dollars.  In the report, Arkansas is shown to have 86 percent of districts’ non-federal revenues coming from state sources, but we disagree.  This is an example of the challenges facing researchers who are trying to understand the complexities in each state’s education funding.

Arkansas’ education funding formula calls for the state to equalize funding across districts, so districts first levy at least 25 mills for the uniform rate of tax (URT), then the state makes up the difference between that amount and the state-mandated minimum funding level. As close as we can tell, Ed Trust considered the URT a ‘state contribution’.  When URT is more appropriately considered ‘local contribution’, Arkansas’ non-federal funding presents a more typical pattern, with funds relatively evenly divided between  local and state funds.

Hooray for Arkansas, now take the next step: School level funding reports

While both the Ed Trust report and the more in-depth OEP 2015 funding report for Arkansas’ funding appears more equitable than the funding in many states, it is important to note that all of this research on school funding equity (and nearly all research on funding equity) examines district-level school funding.  Thus, while this research is informative, it provides no information on how funding flows across schools within districts. If we want to truly understand the level of funding equity in our system, we need to be able to dig deeper than funding aggregated up to school district levels.

Indeed, previous research shows that even when funding for districts is progressive at the state level, dollars may be distributed regressively for schools within districts (wealthier schools within the districts get more funding). In Arkansas, as in most states, researchers have very little information on within-district school funding equity because data on school-level finances are not released. Surely, with all of our advances in computing and technology, we can do a better job of gathering and reporting school-level funding.

We aren’t the only ones who think this is a good idea: School-level reporting is required under ESSA, although states may get to delay reporting while they develop their financial systems.  We applaud our state leaders for the forward- thinking funding policies that they have put in place, and propose that school-level financial reporting would provide even better information about how equitably and effectively resources (including teachers) are being allocated to students.