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Arkansas Department of Education and Solution Tree Announce Fourth Cohort of Schools in Professional Learning Communities at Work® Project

Bloomington, Ind. (April 30, 2020)—The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), in partnership with Solution Tree, a national professional development provider, has selected the fourth cohort of schools for their ongoing program to develop and expand the Professional Learning Communities at Work® process across Arkansas.

In addition to the 29 schools and four districts chosen in 2017, 2018 and 2019, nine schools and two districts have been selected to serve as working models for the professional learning community project for the 2020–2021 school year. As part of the project, these schools will receive up to 50 days of training, coaching and support to build and sustain a strong culture of collaboration that will enhance student learning.

Schools were selected through a rigorous application and evaluation process. A panel of education professionals reviewed applications, and the ADE selected the following schools to receive support from Solution Tree:

  • Bayyari Elementary in the Springdale Public Schools
  • Camden Fairview High School in the Camden Fairview School District
  • Centerpoint School District
  • Clinton School District (Clinton Elementary School and Clinton Junior High School)
  • Crossett High School in the Crossett School District
  • Hot Springs Junior Academy in the Hot Springs School District
  • Lake Hamilton Junior High School in the Lake Hamilton School District
  • Northside High School in the Fort Smith School District
  • Rivercrest High School in the Rivercrest School District
  • Valley Springs Elementary School in the Valley Springs School District
  • Watson Elementary School in the Little Rock School District

"I am always excited when we take a proven best practice model, implement it here in Arkansas, and see continued success,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The PLC model is one of those examples. It has transformed the day-to-day operations and culture at schools around the state, leading to improved outcomes with student learning. Congratulations to this new cohort of schools selected to join the PLC family, and congratulations to the four schools from the first cohort that were selected as model schools for the state.”

Model PLC schools are those honored for demonstrating a commitment to PLC concepts, implementing those concepts for at least three years and presenting clear evidence of improved student learning.

“When I first attended a PLC institute several years ago, I immediately knew we needed to implement the model in Arkansas,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “Not only is the PLC at Work model one of the most highly recognized best practices in the country, it is backed by numerous years of research. Since launching the PLC initiative in Arkansas, we have seen teachers across multiple subject areas come together to collaborate, lead by example and make needed changes that have transformed student learning at their schools. The work is hard, but the payoffs have been huge. Congratulations to the new cohort and to the four schools recently named model schools. You serve as leading examples for all schools in the state.”

Solution Tree president and COO Ed Ackerman added, “Year after year, we are continually impressed by the improvements and accomplishments of each cohort. We are thrilled to welcome 11 additional schools and districts to the project and begin helping them work collaboratively to build professional learning communities. When it comes to improving student education, we truly believe—and research and results show—there is no better approach.”

Selected schools will be matched with a certified PLC at Work associate from Solution Tree and receive intensive job-embedded training, observation and coaching. The schools will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through the aligned curriculum, formative assessments and proven instructional strategies. During the second year, schools will deepen their understanding and focus on implementing multitiered systems of support, followed by strengthening their systems and sustaining the process in year three.

To further support the cohorts, as well as teachers and administrators across Arkansas, Solution Tree developed new web pages dedicated solely to education within the state. The new pages, which launched in spring 2020, offer resources and solutions for local educators and highlights how schools and districts across Arkansas have worked to raise student achievement.

Act 427 of 2017, which Amended Arkansas Code Ann. § 6-20-2305(b)(5), provides funding for the project. For more information, please visit the ADE website at http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/special-projects/professional-learning-communities-in-arkansas, and follow this project on social media using #PLC4AR.

PLC at Work schools are distinguished by the process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLC at Work operates under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators. When the PLC at Work process is implemented with fidelity, schools experience a dramatic improvement in learning results by both students and adults.

Learn more about Solution Tree.