University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

State House and Senate Education Committees Meet

In AR Legislature on March 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm


An update of what we can expect from the new federal education legislation and an ongoing discussion of professional development funding occupied much of this month’s joint meeting of the Arkansas House and Senate education committees.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Some things will change and some will stay the same, but no one knows when or what to do next. Under the recently reworked and renamed federal education laws, the state must still develop challenging academic standards; conduct annual assessments of at least 95% of students; and measure academic achievement, student growth, high school graduation, and English language proficiency. The ESSA provides, however, that the Secretary of Education cannot prescribe those standards, tell states how to meet the 95% threshold or which assessments to use. The new state plan will take effect in the 2017-18 school year, and ADE is determining what steps can be taken while waiting for federal regulations to be developed. The existing state plan and waivers expire August 1st of this year. BLR attorney Isaac Linam gave the committees a succinct summary of ESSA linked here.

Professional Development (PD)

Professional development seems to come up at almost every education committee meeting. This week members discussed BLR’s reports of PD funding and expenditures in school districts and results of a survey regarding Arkansas teachers’ perceptions of PD in their schools. Legislators continue to wrestle with how much funding to allocate to districts for PD and how to ensure its effectiveness. Expect the issue to come up in next month’s fiscal session. The BLR research report is linked here.

The education committees will meet on April 11th at 1:30 pm and April 12th at 9:00 am, just prior to the start of the fiscal session. Here is a link to the meeting calendar.


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