University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Notes from the State Board of Education Meeting, 10/8/2012

In The View from the OEP on October 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

At the State Board of Education meeting on Monday, there were a number of items discussed.

Meredith Novak, regional director for FIRST Robotics, shared that Arkansas will host a regional FIRST Robotics competition in April for the first time (highlighted here). There are currently 16 teams around the state, and there are openings for more teams. Check out this video from the the newly crowned FIRST World Champion Team 16 from Mountain Home, Arkansas.

Dr. Greg Murry was selected as the Arkansas Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Greg Murray of Conway School District received an award as Superintendent of the Year by the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators. Dr. Murray shared his motto for his district: “every day; every child; whatever it takes.

Dr. Laura Bednar of the ADE celebrated Arkansas’ hard work on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. She announced the 6th CCSS Institute meeting on Monday, October 15th (information here). The focus of this institute will be the new CCSS high school math and ELA courses, and a high school math bridge course will be made public for districts. Additionally, the ADE is working with other states to create a transition to college algebra class.

DeWitt School District presented a case to close Gillet Elementary School and consolidate it with DeWitt Elementary School. The Gillet School District was consolidated with DeWitt in 2004, and the Gillet High School was consolidated into DeWitt High School in 2009. The DeWitt School Board voted 5-2 to close the school; but an opposition group from Gillet, including the mayor and school principal, presented a case against the closing. The DeWitt School District Superintendent sought to close the school due to incurred additional costs on the district.

Since the DeWitt School Board vote was not unanimous, the State Board has the ability to decide. After much discussion from both sides, the State Board voted 5-2 to keep Gillet Elementary open for now, while the DeWitt School District looks at alternative options for the school (such as turning the school into a conversion charter school). Gillet and DeWitt are higher performing schools, and state board members noted that they had a hard time closing a high performing school. Gillet Elementary and DeWitt Elementary are not that different demographically and socioeconomically, but DeWitt Elementary serves more studnets. Under the consolidation agreement, students in the district should be able to choose either elementary, no matter where they live; however, the opposition to the consolidation claims that this has not been messaged to parents in the district. The board recommended that this be messaged to parents. Additionally, members of the Gillet community have pledged monetary support to the school, so the board recommends the district look at these additional funds and make a decision in the future.

DeWitt Elementary (K-5) Gillet Elementary (K-5)
Math Literacy # students tested Math Literacy # students tested
2011-12 84% 87% 234 95% 95% 38
2010-11 82% 73% 281 100% 93% 30
2009-10 80% 77% 298 100% 94% 16

The State Board approved Cross County Elementary Technology Academy Charter School (a district conversion charter school) to increase classroom size for this year and next. The school will have to submit a report yearly on their class size.

The State Board approved the ADE textbook adoption list for K-12 math and K-12 health and PE. The lists where selected by the ADE with teacher committees. Carnegie Learning repealed the Board to be on the middle school list; however, the Board rejected the curriculum, sticking with the original list crafted by the ADE.

The State Board approved the licensure changes proposed by the ADE. These changes had been up for comment and over 200 comments were made. A number of changes are being made; all the changes can be seen here. Notably, the levels of licensure of teachers will change from P-4, 4-8, 7-12 to K-6, 4-8, and 7-12. A new license will be added for early childhood called Birth to Pre-kindergarten (B-PK). Administrators’ license will be changed from P-8 and 5-12 to a K-12 license. The Praxis III performance assessment for novice teachers will be eliminated, as the new teacher evaluation system will take place there. To obtain school counselor and media specialist licenses, there will no longer be a requirement for the person to have two years of prior classroom experience.

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