University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

In the News

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

April 12, 2012

From the OEP

Good morning to you all!

It is benchmark week for many across the state so we want to extend our best wishes to all. In the spirit of benchmark week, we decided to get your mind off math and science a little with a post on arts education. A report published by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that arts education programs are not in decline, as many feared would be the result of an increased focus on math and science scores through accountability policies, such as No Child Left Behind. Though the overall findings are encouraging, there are some discrepancies between the opportunities available to low-income students and their more advantaged peers that have caused concern. Furthermore, there are some, specifically in the arts community, that question whether the quality of arts programs is high enough. Check out our post for the full scoop.

Registration for our conference is now up. If you are interested in attending (and let us just say it’s going to be well-worth your time) please register. Registration is free, but we expect this conference to quickly fill up, so we encourage prompt registration!

News from Around the Natural State

State Board Adds 5, 10 Years to 2 Charters
The Arkansas Board of Education approved a 10-year renewal of its charter with Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville and a five-year charter extension–plus a 200-student increase–for LISA Academy in Little Rock, two of the state’s highest achieving public schools. The state board also approved a three-year renewal for both the Vilonia Academy of Technology and the Vilonia Academy of Service and Technology run by the Vilonia School District on Tuesday. On Monday, the board renewed 4 charters including Academics Plus Charter School in Maumelle, Benton County School of the Arts in Rogers, Arkansas Virtual Academy, and Cabot School District’s Academic Center of Excellence.

Board Prepares the Way to Grade State Teachers

Arkansas is preparing to launch its first uniform statewide system for evaluating teacher performance. The Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) was created when state lawmakers passed Act 1209 of 2011, which requires the Arkansas Board of Education to approve rules for the evaluations using a framework created by the law. The evaluations, which will apply to about 35,000 teachers in the state, will go into effect in the 2014-15 school year.

County Schools Seek State OK to Cut $6.8 Million in Benefits
The state-controlled Pulaski County Special School District is seeking state approval of a proposal to remove millions of dollars of benefits from teacher and support-service employee contracts as a way to cut expenses in the coming 2012-13 school year. Superintendent Jerry Guess and his staff have asked Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell–who serves as the district’s board in the absence of a locally elected board–to approve a revised financial-improvement plan that would reduce, eliminate or phase out assorted employee benefits totaling $6.8 million.

News from Around the Nation

Study Points to Drop in Per-Pupil Spending for Pre-K

Enrollment in state-funded preschool programs has more than doubled over the last decade–ticking upward even through the recession years-but an accompanying slide in per child spending in many states has caused concerns on the quality of early-childhood programs designed to serve poor children according to a new national report. In 2010-11, 26 of the 39 states with public prekindergarten programs, which serve mostly low-income 4-year-olds, cut funding for an overall decline of $60 million from the previous year.


The Common Core Math Standards

Ze’ev Wurman and W. Stephen Wilson assess the merits of the Common Core math standards in an article on Education Next.  Ze’ee Wurman is a former U.S. Department of Education official under George W. Bush. W. Stephen Wilson is a professor of Mathematics at John Hopkins University and author of Stars by Which to Navigate? Scanning National and International Education Standards in 2009: An Interim Report on Common Core, NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA, and also served on the National Governors Association-Council on Chief State School Officers “feedback group” for the Common Core Standards.

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

A new report, Technology Counts 2012 covers the shift in the virtual education landscape. The report examines the growth of district-based programs designed with more local control in mind, and it tracks state legislative efforts to expand online education while also evaluating its effectiveness. Check it out: Technology Counts 2012: Virtual Shift.

Mark Your Calendar

May 7 & 8, 2012: Joint Commission on Education Committee Meetings, State Capitol, Room171

May 17, 2012: OEP Conference, Little Rock, 8 AM -12 PM

Save the Date: May 17th, 2012

Annual OEP Conference

Using Technology to Increase Student Achievement

Breakfast and Registration starting at 7:30 AM with Opening Sessions at 8 AM

Final Thought:

“There are plenty of legitimate debates about what works in education, but the importance of early-childhood education is not one of them. High-quality early-childhood programs help kids in school and in life.”
Andy Rotherham, TIME magazine

 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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