UA Little Rock, SAU receive $3.6 million from Forward Arkansas to increase teacher workforce

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 682 views 

As part of its Educator Preparation Program (EPP) Design Collaborative, Forward Arkansas announced the recipients of its phase II implementation grants – Southern Arkansas University (SAU) in Magnolia and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock).

With cumulative funding of $3.6 million over the next three years, which includes direct funding to the universities and comprehensive ongoing technical assistance from expert partners, the universities’ goals are to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of Arkansas’s teacher workforce.

“We are very excited to support SAU and UA Little Rock. They developed bold, innovative plans for transformation and have the potential to dramatically impact the teacher pipeline in the regions they serve as well as the state more broadly,” said Ben Kutylo, executive director of Forward Arkansas.

“The decisions were difficult. Overall, we were humbled by the commitment, engagement and hard work of all eight participating universities over the last year of the Design Collaborative. It exceeded our expectations. Therefore, to maintain the momentum, we are committing to an additional two years of the Collaborative and look forward to supporting the transformative work that will continue,” Kutylo added.

According to a news release, the plans for SAU and UA Little Rock focus on increasing the number and diversity of candidates entering and graduating from their programs and transforming the entire experience for teacher candidates to be more practice-based, so teachers are ready for their classrooms on day one.

Some of the innovations within the plans include:

Year-long paid “residencies” where candidates spend a year working in a partner school as a teacher or paraprofessional while still in training and with support from dedicated mentor teachers.

Ongoing and collaborative partnerships with local districts to better understand the evolving needs of K-12 students and inform the transformation of the university programs.

Capturing data on teacher candidates and graduates in their first five years in the profession to support continuous improvement.

Forward Arkansas was established in 2014 with grants from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Walton Family Foundation with the goal of improving outcomes for all students.