University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Recap: House and Senate Ed. Committee August Meeting

In The View from the OEP on August 17, 2015 at 9:20 pm

The education committees of the Arkansas House and Senate met jointly last week and heard updates on TESS implementation, Arkansas Teacher Corps, and the new “panic button” emergency alert system.

TESS Implementation Feedback

 tess logo

Teachers, staff, and administrators shared their opinions about TESS design and implementation in 29 focus groups last spring. ADE Assistant Commissioner Ivy Pfeffer and Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Vice President Andy Baxter reported participants’ overall view that TESS is a good system with room for improvement. Among the key findings were the advantages of TESS in clarifying teaching standards and providing a paperless platform, while the time involved and the need for structural and cultural changes in schools were cited as opportunities for growth. Focus groups were conducted in eight locations with 197 participants from 91 school districts. Read the full report.

Arkansas Teacher Corps

Arkansas Teacher CorpsTeacher Corps logo (ATC) is an accelerated teacher-training program for highly qualified individuals who want to apply their education and career experience to classrooms in economically disadvantaged communities. ATC Faculty Advisor Gary Ritter and Executive Director Benton Brown told legislators that the program’s 48 teachers working in 26 schools and 19 districts have backgrounds in engineering, biology, business, music, languages, and other fields. In its three-year history, ATC has received more than 500 requests for teachers, and the presenters asked legislators to help spread the word about ATC to prospective applicants in their districts.

Panic Button Alert System

 A spokesperson for Rave Mobile Safety gave education committee members a progress report on implementation of the company’s “panic button” alert system in public schools as provided in the 2015 School Safety Act. Because the panic button feature allows a caller to notify 911 and school officials simultaneously, the system initiates security measures more quickly and reduces emergency response time. More than 600 school personnel participated in a July training webinar, and more training opportunities will be available. The planned launch date is September 1.

[Documents presented at education committee meetings are available through the Past Meetings link on the House and Senate education committees’ web pages.]

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