University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

School Improvement Providers

In The View from the OEP on February 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

On Tuesday, the OEP attended the Joint Committee on Education to hear testimony about the research on the effectiveness of School Improvement Providers in Arkansas. An increase in the number of schools on the school improvement list as well as an increase in federal funds available to pay for these services has led to a boom in this particular sector of the education industry. There are approximately thirteen companies providing support services to districts and schools in Arkansas. These organizations are reaping a significant economic benefit for their services, have limited oversight, and it is unclear the extent to which they provide benefit to schools and districts in terms of academic achievement.

We were somewhat surprised at the amount of money spent to obtain the services of these support service providers. America’s Choice had received a contract for FY 2007-2010. Under this contract, the state paid roughly $6 million dollars to America’s choice. In 2010-11 the state chose not to renew their contract with America’s Choice and instead directly distributed funds to districts.  In 2011, five companies received from 1- to 7- million dollars each to provide support services to schools in Arkansas.

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