University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Promises of a New Day

In The View from the OEP on February 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

 Yesterday a big crew of OEPers drove to North Little Rock to attend the Promises of a New Day conference. The conference was funded by the Arkansas Department of Education by a $25,000 dissemination grant. The grant had several breakout sessions that dealt with personnel management, data management, operations management, and extended into instructional practices including presentations on specific curriculum.  The conference was informative and enjoyable. We were somewhat surprised by the news coverage of it.

First, the headline that read “test scores don’t show success, educators say”  was somewhat misleading in terms of the actual message sent  at the event. What Scott Shirey actually said was that high test scores were not enough. KIPP has a more holistic focus that goes beyond meeting AYP and doing everything they can to get students enrolled and through college. As evidenced by the amazing musical performances that we were treated to at the start of the conference, KIPP also emphasizes programs that complement a rigorous academic program and build confidence and leadership skills into their students.

To that end, academic achievement is their obvious priority. The conference highlighted their instructional practices, leadership practices, and even curricular strategies. However, KIPP goes far beyond simply focusing on academic content. KIPP students reap the benefit of a very strong network of support. They continue to build relationships with students even into their college careers and connect students to institutions of higher education that work hard at getting KIPPsters integrated into the university system.

We are impressed with this work and are grateful for the model KIPP provides for schools in Arkansas serving low-income students. We also were happy to meet several public school teachers from Mississippi and wish we could have met even more from Arkansas. We commend those that did attend from Arkansas and we hope that more Arkansas educators pay attention to KIPP in the  future.  The people at KIPP Delta–despite working in one of the more difficult parts of the state–are doing a great job at increasing learning for Arkansas students .

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