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Concerned about Arkansas’ Teacher Pipeline? Come to the OEP conference!

In The View from the OEP on March 13, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Do you want to learn about new research examining the supply and demand for teachers in the state, and learn how districts are recruiting and retaining great teachers?  Come hear from students, district leadership, researchers, ADE staff, and national leaders on teacher talent at the 2018 OEP Conference.

There is no cost to attend but space is limited, so register now!

Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Time: 8:30am to 3pm
Location: Heifer International in Little Rock


 

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Arkansas’ Teacher Pipeline:

What we know, what we are doing, and what more we could be doing.

Saroja Warner will present the Keynote on talent management in our education system.  Dr. Warner is the Director of Educator Preparation Initiatives at CCSSO where she directs initiatives that support state authorities to ensure educators enter the workforce ready to advance student learning, represent the demographic diversity of K12 students, and lead schools that support student achievement.

Keith Look was featured by Education Week while he was the Principal of the lowest-performing high school in Kentucky.  Currently the Superintendent of Danville, Kentucky, Dr. Look will share his experience in attracting, hiring, and supporting talented teachers to a high-poverty, ‘turnaround’ school.

Breakout sessions feature speakers and panels discussing research, practice, and policy surrounding teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention.

  • Who Needs Teachers?  An Exploration of Supply and Demand in Arkansas Districts
  • Increasing the Teacher Pipeline: The Teacher Cadet Model (Student panel)
  • What’s Up in Teacher Prep? (Higher Ed panel)
  • Supporting the Teacher Pipeline: Leadership Support Systems
  • Arkansas Teacher of the Year: Courtney Cochran
  • Quitting Your Day Job: An Analysis of Teacher Retention in Arkansas
  • Success and Opportunity in Talent Management (District panel)
  • Growing Your Own Teachers; Why and How
  • The Arkansas Academy for Educational Equity: Boosting the Effectiveness of Early Career Teachers in High-Poverty Schools
  • Arkansas Teacher Corps: Going Where Needed
  • Enhancing the Teacher Pipeline through Teacher Leadership
  • Ensuring Access to Effective Educators: Equity Labs

Lunch will be provided, professional development certificates will be available, and there is no cost to attend. Space is limited. Register now- and we’ll see you there!

Top 10 Arkansas Education Stories of 2013 Recap

In The View from the OEP on January 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm

2014

Happy New Year and welcome back to school! We hope everyone is staying warm in the midst of the ‘Polar Vortex.’ In case you missed it, last year we released our Top 10 Arkansas Education Stories of 2013. A recap of our Top 10, complete with links is below. Are there any stories that you would have liked to see on the list? Also, leave us a comment about what you would like to see from the OEP in 2014!

TOP 10 Arkansas Ed Stories

#10 Education Week Moves AR to 5th in National Rankings

#9 Good News for Arkansas Students and Teachers

#8 Rogers and Blytheville Make the Conversion to New Tech High Schools

#7 Changes Proposed to Poverty Funding

#6 AR Teacher Corps is Founded at UA to Address Teacher Shortages in High Needs Areas…And Teacher Prep. Wars Continue!

#5 Special Session Called to Prevent Steep Hikes in Teacher Insurance Rates

#4 School Safety Concerns Surface in AR

#3 Changes in AR School Choice

#2 Big Changes for AR Education Practitioners

#1 Little Rock Desegregation Lawsuit Nearing Resolution

#6 AR Teacher Corps Founded at UA to Address Teacher Shortages in High-Need Areas …. And Teacher Prep. Wars Continue!

In The View from the OEP on December 18, 2013 at 8:21 am

The OEP is nearly halfway through its Top 10 Arkansas Education Stories of 2013. Stay tuned as we continue the countdown to #1.

TOP 10 Arkansas Ed Stories

Arkansas Teacher Corps Founded at University of Arkansas

ATCIn March, 2013, HB 1364 was signed into law, which amended the Teacher Licensure Law for nontraditional applicants, to include a license pathway through the Arkansas Teacher Corps (ATC) program. The ATC was created to supply teachers to economically disadvantaged communities with teacher shortages, especially in southern and central Arkansas. It is modeled after Teach for America, but has some differences (see Quick Facts below).

QUICK FACTS

  • Aims to recruit Arkansans
  • Alternative certification/6 week summer training
  • 3 year commitment
  • required to pass PRAXIS exams
  • teach in high-need geographic areas
  • teach in high-need content areas
  • $5,000-a-year stipend in addition to full time teaching salary

Arkansas Teacher Corps began accepting applications in early 2013 and the selection process began. In May, the ATC introduced 21 fellows that were selected (pictured below).

atc fellows

In August 2013, the twenty Fellows began teaching in high need districts and subjects across central and southern Arkansas, marking its first year in the classroom. In addition, 189 Teach for America teachers began the 2013-2014 school year, serving in eastern/southeastern Arkansas.

ATC, much like its predecessor, TFA, has not gone without opposition. Just for fun, we at the OEP and the UA entered into the fray!u of a

  • In May 2013, our UA colleagues, Professors McComas and Goering, wrote an opinion piece in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, critical of Teach for America and its Arkansas counterpart, Arkansas Teacher Corps. Some of the concerns stated in the article are that TFA teachers do not stay long in the profession, have limited preparation and that ATC is a social experiment that affects Arkansas’ most vulnerable students. Gary Ritter of the OEP wrote a response in the Democrat-Gazette (which can be accessed here) in which he asserts that the attrition of TFA teachers is roughly equal to that of other teachers in high-need schools and points out that ATC requires a 3 year commitment, which is greater than TFA. Most importantly, according to Ritter, the districts served by ATC and TFA in Arkansas would not be able to place qualified teachers in their classrooms were it not for these alternative certification programs.
  • In June 2013, another U of A Professor, Samuel Totten, contributed to the discussion in a Arkansas Democrat Gazette OP-ED piece, challenging many of McComas and Goering’s assertions. Others Arkansans also weigh in, on different sides of the issue. Also in June, NPR, U.S. News & World Report, and others highlight a controversial report published by the National Council on Teacher Quality which claims that traditional Teacher Prep programs are failing. The OEP’s blog post explained some of the criticism of this report and warns readers to be cautiously skeptical!
  • Finally, in September 2013, Mathematica Policy Research publismathematicahed a randomized evaluation which finds that alternative-trained teachers prove effective in secondary math. Read more at our OEP blog post.

Where do we go from here?

On a national level, Teach for America (established in 1990) is a controversial program, so it is not surprising that Arkansas Teacher Corps, as a spin-off of TFA, would receive similar treatment by some. Program evaluations and data about alternative teacher certification programs, including ATC, will continue to emerge and will help determine the future of teacher preparation. We at the OEP feel that COEHP does an excellent job of supplying teachers for Northwest Arkansas and other parts of the state, but clearly there remains a need in other AR districts. We are glad that ATC is here to meet that need.

In conclusion, we at the OEP look forward to the discussions and findings to come, which will hopefully result in the outcomes best for Arkansas students: quality teacher preparation, effective teachers, and high teacher retention rates.

Alternatively-Trained Teachers Prove Effective in Secondary Math

In The View from the OEP on September 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

teach_for_americaYou might have seen the news this week that Mathematica Policy Research released a new report examining Teach for America (TFA) and The New Teacher Project (TNTP) Teaching Fellows.

Teach For America, which began in 1989, and the Teaching Fellows, which began in 2000, both place alternatively-trained teachers in classrooms across the United States. In 2013-14, TFA has 11,000 first or second year teachers in 48 regions, including Arkansas. Teaching Fellows places teachers in 11 regions across the United States.

TNTP4

Teach For America often falls in the national spotlight, as it has drawn criticism for its training practices and placement of teachers. This summer, we released blog posts digging into the debate surrounding alternative certification of teachers.

Since its founding, TFA has been the focus of a number of evaluations, including a previous report  released by Mathematica in 2004.  In the previous report, a randomized evaluation compared TFA elementary teachers (Grades 1-5) to non-TFA teachers and found positive gains in math for TFA teachers and no statistically different results between the teachers in reading.

The Evaluation

The recently-released Mathematica report is a rigorous evaluation of secondary TFA and Teaching Fellow math teachers, as it uses random assignment to examine the effectiveness of the teachers. The Institute of Education Sciences (the research arm of the Department of Education) sponsored the Mathematica report. Students were randomly assigned to a TFA or Teaching Fellow teacher or to another teacher in the school (regardless of teaching experience, whether traditionally-trained or trained through another non-traditional program). Results from end-of-the-year tests were analyzed to determine differences in teacher effectiveness. Due to the placement of the teachers and the nature of the analysis, Teach For America and Teaching Fellow teachers were not compared head-to-head.

The report was conducted during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 schools years. The TFA analysis examined teachers in 45 schools in 11 districts in 8 states and included more than 4,500 students. The Teaching Fellows analysis examined teachers in 44 schools in 9 districts in 8 states and included more than 4,100 students.

Findings

The evaluation found secondary math TFA teachers to be more effective than non-TFA teachers: on average, students with TFA teachers scored a difference equivalent to 2.6 months of additional math instruction. The TFA teacher sample, which included first- and second-year teachers and alumni TFA teachers, had less teaching experience on average than the comparison teachers (2 years compared to 10 years). Regardless of experience or certification, TFA teachers proved to be more effective. Furthermore, when TFA teachers were compared to teachers from less selective non-traditional routes to teaching, TFA teachers proved to be even more effective.

The evaluation found that secondary math Teaching Fellow teachers produced results that were, on average, no different than those of comparison teachers. However, when Teaching Fellows teachers were compared to teachers from less selective non-traditional routes to teaching, the Teaching Fellows teachers proved to be more effective.

This is good news for both programs – particularly Teach For America, as it continues to expand the number of teachers placed across the United States each year.

Arkansas

In the 2013-14 school year, there are 189 TFA teachers in Arkansas in 40 different schools across eastern and southeastern Arkansas. Eighty-percent of Arkansas’ TFA teachers are secondary teachers—and a large number of those are math teachers.

ATCLogoWhile there are no Teaching Fellow teachers placed in Arkansas, in this school year, another non-traditional teaching program, similar to Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows, has opened out of the University of Arkansas. The Arkansas Teacher Corps has placed more than 20 teachers across Central and Southern Arkansas. The effectiveness of Arkansas Teacher Corps teachers will be examined as the program grows. We are sure that ATC is pleased to hear that selective and high-quality non-traditional teaching programs can produce benefits for students.

We at the OEP are pleased to share the news of any program that has the potential to put even more talented teachers in front of our state’s students, as we believe (and know from research) that teachers matter.

Teacher Prep Programs Come Under Scrutiny in AR and Nationwide

In The View from the OEP on June 25, 2013 at 10:16 am

Over a month after it began, the debate on traditional versus alternative teacher preparation in Arkansas is still going strong. The number of op-eds in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on the topic is up to five now, with the original post by University of Arkansas COEHP professors Drs. McComas and Goering, the response by OEP Director Dr. Ritter, and subsequent opinions from former UA professor Dr. Totten, UA COEHP Dean Tom Smith, and finally, yesterday, by teacher and alumnus of the UA M.A.T. program Shane Hampton.

Interestingly enough, the quality of traditional teacher preparation programs recently resurfaced as a hot topic on the national scene as well after last week’s release of the Teacher Prep Review by the National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The report has proved to be quite controversial and has been both lauded and critiqued by leaders in the field. While some of the criticism comes from representatives of traditional teacher preparation programs who do not want to be scrutinized, much of it is based on methodological concerns that we believe to be legitimate. To make this case, we will first give an overview of the scope and methods of the study and then we will tell you why we think you should be cautiously skeptical of the findings. You can find  more detailed descriptions of the report from NPR and the Wall Street Journal.

The Teacher Prep Review evaluates teacher preparation programs in over 1,100 colleges and universities, giving programs a rating ranging from 0 stars (Consumer Alert ) to 4 stars, with .5 star increments. The report’s stated purpose is to improve the quality of teacher preparation programs through market forces by providing information to consumers of such programs. Theoretically, aspiring teachers will use ratings to determine what program they will attend, and principals and superintendents will use them to inform their recruitment and hiring practices.

Teacher preparation programs are rated on eighteen standards that have been developed by NCTQ from research, previous pilot studies at the state-level, practices of high-performing nations and states, expert opinion, and “common sense.” The standards cover four major competency areas: selection, content preparation, professional skills, and outcomes.

NCTQ reviewers judged programs against these standards by examining documents, such as degree requirements, syllabi, and other course materials. Researchers were unable to visit and observe courses in teacher prep programs, and very few states have data systems that allow researchers to link the student performance data of teachers to the teacher preparation program they attended.

According to NCTQ’s findings, an increase in the quality of teacher prep programs is sorely needed: the report gave its highest rating, 4 stars, to only four programs. Of the 1,200 programs, only 105 (9%) made the “Honor Roll,” earning 3 or more stars. The vast majority of the programs earned 2.5 stars or less, signaling mediocrity at best.

In Arkansas, twenty public programs were rated in the NCTQ report. Similar to the national sample, 90% of Arkansas teacher preparation programs received 2.5 stars or less. Two programs received 3 stars, Arkansas Tech University’s and University of Central Arkansas’ undergraduate secondary programs, and one program received 0 stars, Southern Arkansas University’s graduate secondary program.

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Despite the “face validity” of this report (teacher preparation programs have long been criticized for being ineffective), the reaction has been divided. Some, like the Washington Post editorial board, praised the report, predicting that it may spur much-needed change in education schools. On the other side, education researchers across the ideological spectrum, including Linda Darling-Hammond, Bruce Baker, and Jay Greene, criticize the report for methodological flaws. One issue is the use of “document review” instead of more comprehensive observations or inspections that actually capture how the curriculum is being implemented. This methodology has often been compared to judging the quality of a restaurant by only reading the menu rather than actually eating the food. While we agree that looking at syllabi and degree requirements certainly does not give the whole picture of education program quality, it gives at least the plan of what will be taught (though we do not know whether that plan will be implemented well, poorly, or at all). The other common criticism is the weak research basis for the standards against which programs are being judged. Dr. Greene points out that there is very little sound research about effective teaching and teacher preparation, and by rating education school programs on “effectiveness,” the NCTQ report is claiming to know more than they actually do.

We agree that both the document review methodology and the unproven standards should make us doubt the validity of the ratings. A rating system is only as good as its criteria, and, if the criteria have no bearing on what we are actually trying to measure, the ratings will be misleading and potentially arbitrary. This is not to say that there is nothing to be learned from the NCTQ report. From this review, we have learned that there is wide variation in what is, at least nominally, being taught in education schools across the country, a point that, in itself, could have negative implications for teacher preparation. As a descriptive study, the Teacher Prep Report is a decent effort given practical limitations and impressive in its scope. As a meaningful consumer guide for future teachers and for school leaders, however, we believe the report falls short.

Teacher Preparation Debate Continues

In The View from the OEP on June 10, 2013 at 11:09 am

If you’ve been following the OEP Blog lately, you probably noticed the lively debate on traditional and alternative teacher certification programs in the state of Arkansas between Professors Goering and McComas and OEP Director Gary Ritter, plus an equally spirited continuation of the conversation in the “Comments” section. In the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Friday, June 10th, another University of Arkansas professor weighed in on the debate. Samuel Totten, Professor Emeritus of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Health Professions, responded to Goering and McComas’ original May 19th piece in his op-ed “Quality programs? Teacher education now below par.”  In short, he criticizes the Goering and McComas commentary for making many assertions with very little evidence to support their claims.

Totten’s full article is available here but is available online only to subscribers. Because this is not our work, we won’t reproduce it in full here on our blog. While we still encourage you to read the article in full, here are some snippets of Professor Totten’s argument (for our readers who are following this debate):

teacher prep newspaper image bigger jpeg

Totten takes issue with Goering and McComas’ criticism that Teach For America teachers do not stay long enough in schools; he cites recent work showing that nearly half of all new teachers, traditionally and alternatively-certified, leave teaching within the first five years.
Totten is not persuaded by the example of teachers in Finland.  He argues that modeling our system of teacher preparation after Finland is not a viable solution because Finland requires far fewer teachers than the US, has more selective teacher prep program admissions, and pays higher (relative) salaries to teachers.
Goering and McComas never clearly define a high-quality traditional teacher preparation program, and thus cannot back up their suggestion that Arkansas’ traditional preparation programs are of high quality and will produce better teachers than alternative certification programs will.

Totten concludes that “there is a dire need for as much innovation as educators and others in the United States can come up with,” including alternative certification programs with drastically different models than traditional teacher prep programs.

Of course, we here at the OEP agree with Professor Totten’s call for innovation. We only ask that, with that innovation we also bring evaluation, so we can figure out what types of innovations help kids. What are your thoughts on Professor Totten’s addition to the debate? As always, we would love to hear your opinions in the comment section below!

Students Will Win: Teacher Corps to Meet High Needs

In The View from the OEP on May 30, 2013 at 8:43 am

The following editorial was published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette Thursday May 30th, 2013 on page 5B

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By GARY RITTER

Recently, my colleagues, Bill McComas and Chris Goering, wrote a thoughtful essay questioning the rationale for the nationally respected Teach for America (TFA) as well as spinoffs such as our own Arkansas Teacher Corps (ATC), developed in the past year to serve Arkansas students and schools.

While I appreciate their views, obviously I disagree with their conclusion that such programs are harmful. I believe that such programs are helpful and necessary.

ATCLogo

After acknowledging that Arkansas schools face significant teaching shortages in some subjects, the authors criticize alternative-preparation strategies as a shortsighted attempt to address this problem by lowering the bar. Nothing could be further from the truth. The alternative-preparation strategy which I favor seeks out committed and talented applicants, screens them thoroughly, and accepts only a very small fraction to undertake the critically important task of educating our state’s students. Our first class of 21 Arkansas Teacher Corps Fellows includes those who have taught science at the college level, students with excellent GPAs in rigorous majors and two students who received Ph.D. degrees at the University of Arkansas this May. I certainly do not believe that placing a newly minted Ph.D. in chemical engineering in high school math and science classrooms represents a lowered bar. Nor do parents. Nor do school superintendents in low-income areas.

ATC OPED ArticleMcComas and Goering state that the “research on TFA has taught us that these smart individuals may make a difference in student achievement-but they don’t stay long in the profession.” I agree that alternatively certified teachers from such rigorous programs will make a positive academic difference for kids. Indeed, we should not be surprised that the most talented students with rigorous majors earned from selective institutions turn out to be good teachers. But how long will these teachers stay? Good studies seem to indicate that the attrition of TFA teachers is roughly equal to that of other teachers in high-need schools.In any event, we would also like effective teachers to stay in the classroom, so we require a commitment of three years for our ATC fellows.

McComas and Goering venture into the unknown, claiming that the “research doesn’t show how damaging it is that such programs imply that anyone can be an effective teacher with little or no teacher preparation.” I agree. The research reveals no evidence of any alleged damage, likely because there is no such thing. The existence of selective programs like our ATC does not suggest that “anyone” can become an effective teacher. In fact, in this first year of the ATC, we’ve accepted fewer than 25 of 135 applicants, selected based on their ability and commitment after comprehensive half-day interviews that included a one-to-one discussion, a group activity, and a teaching audition. I doubt many traditional programs in our state can afford to be this selective!

McComas and Goering reference the fact that ATC fellows will serve high-need communities, and they make the implausible claim that, as a consequence of programs like the ATC and TFA, “the disparity in student achievement already seen across Arkansas will grow.” It seems silly to argue that disadvantaged students will face greater achievement gaps because they are exposed to talented teachers such as those provided by Teach for America (with its Ivy League pipeline) or the Arkansas Teacher Corps. This outrageous claim reveals a lack of understanding of the challenges facing school leaders in high-need areas, where there are vacancies in key high school courses and no long line of traditionally trained teachers waiting in the wings.

We certainly expect that students will be better off for having ATC teachers in the coming years and that ATC will reduce achievement gaps. However, we do not simply rely on faith. We will carefully study the effectiveness of ATC teachers and are willing to pull the plug if McComas and Goering are right.

Finally, McComas and Goering offer up their own strategy for addressing targeted teacher shortages-scholarships for potential teachers, tuition waivers and the like. While I do not oppose these ideas, they have a mixed record in Arkansas, as colleagues Bob Maranto and James Shuls reported in the most recent issue of The Rural Educator, where they evaluated existing efforts to attract teachers to high-need areas.

I applaud our university, the College of Education and Health Professions, and Professors McComas and Goering for training sufficient numbers of certified teachers for our relatively affluent districts in Northwest Arkansas. I do not believe, however, that we are effectively serving students in the more economically depressed regions of the state. Thus, I am very pleased that our college (albeit not all of our faculty) is supporting the Arkansas Teacher Corps as a strategy for serving students we’ve previously ignored.

With all due respect to our colleagues, instead of waiting a few years to see if their ideas bear fruit, we’re going to dismiss their criticisms and get back to the important work of training and supporting our very talented first class of ATC fellows who will do their best to provide quality instruction to students in more than 20 classrooms across Arkansas this fall.

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Gary Ritter is a professor of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas and one of the directors of the new Arkansas Teacher Corps.

Commit. Serve. Teach.

In The View from the OEP on February 3, 2016 at 11:26 am

Teach For America (TFA) was big news in Arkansas last week, and today we wanted to highlight a similar Arkansas-specific program that places high quality teachers in high-need schools in Arkansas. The deadline to apply for this outstanding program is March 6th, 2016.

The news about TFA came when Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced funding to support 150 new TFA teachers to be assigned to school districts in south and east Arkansas.  In addition, members of the Little Rock business community were donating an additional $3 million in private funds to hire some 65 new TFA teachers in the Little Rock School District specifically over the next three years.

Here at OEP we have had the pleasure of working with many TFA teachers, and have found them to be smart, hard-working, dedicated professionals who care about educating their students. We are excited about students being taught by folks like these.

The fact is that teachers matter to kids. We support high quality teachers in classrooms, and have found great teachers can originate from sources other than traditional teacher training programs.

ATC Logo

The Arkansas Teacher Corps provides a ‘home-grown’ path to making a difference for Arkansas students.  There are several benefits to becoming an ATC Fellow (what they call their teachers) that prospective difference-makers should consider:

  • More Commitment: ATC Fellows commit for three years. Longer than the TFA commitment, ATC Fellows provide more stability to students and schools.
  • More Local: Arkansas Teacher Corps provides a ‘home-grown’ path to teaching in Arkansas, for Arkansans. Training takes place in Arkansas, addresses the needs of Arkansas students, and the vast majority of ATC Fellows are from Arkansas.
  • More Opportunities: ATC Fellows are placed in low-income or rural districts throughout Arkansas, because there are students in all regions who can benefit from a high quality teacher.
  • More Support: There are currently 43 ATC Fellows teaching in Arkansas. TFA’s current corps is over 8,600, with 110 serving in Arkansas. ATC’s personalized professional support, close relationships with school districts, and a strings-free Fellow stipend of $15,000 over the three years in addition to a regular teaching salary, ensures that ATC teachers get the support they need to be effective educators for students.

Arkansas students are waiting for great teachers!  Every year, ATC has many more requests for teachers than they can fill. Like Gov. Hutchinson noted about TFA: once district leaders work with ATC, they continue to request more teachers from the organization.  Districts need great teachers, and you can help!

ATC is looking for service-minded individuals from all different backgrounds. Please pass this information along to people you know who want to make a difference in the lives of Arkansas students.  Check out http://arkansasteachercorps.org/ to learn more.

 

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.]

ADE Releases 2014-15 Critical Licensure Shortage Areas

In The View from the OEP on April 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

adeAs the OEP is releasing our 2013 Arkansas State Report Card, the Arkansas Department of Education has also just released a memo outlining the critical academic licensure shortage areas for the 2014-2015 school year. The memo identifies certain subjects and grade levels that are designated as critical shortage areas (generally due to a lack of applications for new licenses in these areas) as recognized by the Arkansas Department of Education and approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The shortage areas include subjects like secondary mathematics, secondary sciences, middle childhood education, music, and special education. The classification as a critical shortage area allows individuals licensed in these shortage areas to apply for grant and loan forgiveness programs offered through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

This serves as a reminder of the fact that some Arkansas students may be underserved in these important subject and licensure areas that are vital to their education. One of the possible remedies to these critical shortage areas is a program close to home here at the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Teacher Corps. ATC actively seeks individuals with expertise in these critical shortage areas and places them to teach in high-need geographic areas of the state. With the help of ATC teachers and all of the other great teachers across the state, we can continue the progress that we have seen over the past few years, which is illustrated in the  2013 Arkansas Report Card.