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PLC at Work® Project Leads to Higher Student Achievement in Arkansas

Bloomington, Ind. (December 14, 2020)—Research validates the success of Solution Tree’s Professional Learning Communities at Work® process in Arkansas. After two years of data, third-party research firm Education Northwest found that the Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE) PLC at Work project positively impacted mathematics student achievement on the ACT Aspire assessment.

Focused on student learning, collaboration, and a results-oriented culture, the PLC at Work process has proven effective in increasing mathematics ACT Aspire scores in the first ADE PLC at Work cohort. This cohort, which includes nine schools and one district, partnered with Solution Tree in 2017 as part of the state’s commitment to continuous improvement in student achievement.

The first-year PLC at Work project cohort received intensive on-site training, observation, coaching, and other job-embedded staff development. The schools and district created action plans that focused on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessment, and proven instructional strategies. After two years of implementing and sustaining PLC at Work processes, data shows a statistically significant increase in achievement, particularly in mathematics.

Key research findings reveal that in Arkansas, the PLC at Work process:

  • Had an overall positive impact on mathematics ACT Aspire growth
  • Had a positive impact for specific student groups on mathematics ACT Aspire growth
  • Exceeded impact on mathematics achievement gains shown in other professional learning programs

“These findings speak to the power of the PLC at Work process in schools,” said Solution Tree CEO Jeffrey C. Jones. “A culture of collaboration and laser-like focus on student learning do, in fact, have a positive correlation with student achievement. What we have seen in Arkansas is a testament to what we believe in and strive to do daily at Solution Tree—help schools ensure high levels of learning for all students.”

The three-year study Education Northwest started with the first ADE PLC at Work cohort was originally scheduled to conclude with the 2020 state assessment. The study has been extended to 2021 due to COVID-19 to verify these promising results.

“We are excited to see more positive results from Arkansas,” said Solution Tree President Ed Ackerman. “We applaud the commitment of everyone involved and are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the ADE as the PLC at Work process expands into other schools.”

Ackerman went on to say, “This study is proof that the PLC at Work process works. We anticipate other state departments of education will see the impact in Arkansas schools and adopt this process to increase their student achievement as well.”

“We are pleased to see that after only two years, PLC at Work is contributing to improved student learning,” said Kathryn Torres, Ph.D., of Education Northwest and co-principal investigator. “We expect to see similarly positive results in other schools that implement PLC at Work with fidelity.”

Act 427 of 2017, which amended Arkansas Code Ann. § 6-20-2305(b)(5), provides funding for the PLC at Work project in Arkansas, which is free for those selected.

For more research findings, read the Arkansas PLC at Work Cohort 1 Year 2 Impact Report. To learn more about Solution Tree in Arkansas, please visit https://www.solutiontree.com/st-states/arkansas.

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