University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

In the News

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 5, 2012 at 8:17 am

Good morning to you all!

We are finalizing our program for the Office for Education Policy Conference this week and will have a full agenda for all to view by our next OWL. At that time, we will also open our registration up for interested individuals. The conference will be free of charge and will most certainly be worth taking a half-day to attend. Details coming soon. Until then, enjoy these news links!

We do have a few slots left in our schedule and want to fill those vacancies with thoughtful and engaging presenters. Please take a moment to fill out our online poll and let us know what you think would be beneficial for your school or district.

News from Around the Natural State

Changes in Math Courses Coming
Names of math courses taught in middle and high schools will remain the same, but the content will be different and more challenging in some of those courses as a result of Arkansas School Districts adapting to the new national Common Core Standards. Much of what is now taught in Algebra I will become part of eighth grade math, and the course labeled Algebra I will now include many of the concepts now in Algebra II, LRSD curriculum directors said Monday at a district-hosted public forum about the new math and English/language arts standards at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Fiscal Distress on Horizon for South Arkansas School

Next month is when the Drew Central School District will officially be put on fiscal distress according to the Arkansas State Department of Education. The decision was made after it was determined that Drew Central had a declining balance, which could jeopardize the financial integrity of the school district. The Drew Central School District will have 2 years to make necessary budget changes in order to be taken off of fiscal distress or risk that their district will be shut down.

Retirement System Denies Ex-Teacher’s Claim for 2nd Time
For the second time in the past three years, the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System on Monday denied a former Greenbrier Junior High School teacher’s claim for about a year’s worth of additional retirement benefits. In a 13-1 vote, the trustees approved a recommendation by administrative hearing officer Ann P. Faitz that they reject the claim for these benefits. System attorney Laura Gilson told the trustees that Hodge alleges she retired at the age of 66 rather than when she was 65 based on “incorrect information” from the system’s staff.

News from Around the Nation

States Gird to Report Revised Graduation Rates

States are grappling with a federal requirement that is forcing them to use a new, more uniform method of calculating high school graduation rates–a method that, in some states, is yielding rates that are 20 percentage points lower than those states have reported in the past. Under a 2008 update to federal education rules, the states were required to replace their patchwork of graduation-rate formulas with a four-year “cohort” rate, beginning in the 2010-11 school year, and to use that number this school year to determine whether schools are making adequate progress under the No Child Left Behind Act.


Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999-2000 and 2009-10

A new federal report was released this week that presents selected findings from a congressionally mandated study on arts education in public K-12 schools. The data were collected through seven fast Response Survey System (FRSS) surveys during the 2009-10 school year. Education Week’s Curriculum Matters Blog writers provided a synopsis of the report. Over the last decade the availability of music and visual arts instruction has changed little, and remains high, according to the report.

Click here to check out these news stories and more on the OEP Blog!!!

Don’t forget, you can always keep up with more education news on the In the News section of our website.

Site Seeing

The New Teacher Project released an open-source library of proven resources for building a thriving teaching team. From the Teacher Talent Toolbox teachers and administrators can download more than 250 free tools from innovative schools, districts, and states around the country: The New Teacher Project releases the Teacher Talent Toolbox.

Mark Your Calendar

March 27, 2012 & April 3, 2012: Dealing with Challenging Youth courses offered at the University of Arkansas

March 30 and March 31, 2012: Autism Symposium, Fayetteville, AR

April 9-10, 2012: Joint Commission on Education Committee Meetings, State Capitol, Room171

May 17, 2012: OEP Conference

Save the Date: May 17th, 2012

Annual OEP Conference

Using Technology to Increase Student Achievement

The Peabody Hotel in Little Rock

Breakfast and Registration starting at 8:00 AM

Final Thought:

“In the year where finally accountability is real, waivers come along and challenge it,”

Robert W. Balfanz on the potential for NCLB Waivers to undermine hopes for accountability with new graduation rate measurements.

 Thanks for reading!  See you next week!

The Office for Education Policy
University of Arkansas

Director:  Gary W. Ritter Ph.D.

Chief of Staff: Misty Newcomb

Research Associates:

Caleb P. Rose

James L. Woodworth

Alexandra M. Boyd

Gregory F. Michel

Charlene A. Reid

If you would like to be added or removed from this list, please send an e-mail to

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