Effective Leadership is also one of our seven Vision Report Key Focus Areas, stressing that highly effective principals, assistant principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents, school board members and other district leadership in schools are critical for improving educational outcomes in Arkansas. We must attract, develop and support them, and later hold them accountable for student outcomes.
One surveyed Arkansas educator said that “what happens in the classroom is a direct reflection of the leadership support,” and we know that research suggests a principal accounts for 25% of a school’s total impact on student achievement.
We are striving to highlight the leadership successes of our ForwARd Communities – Crossett, Independence County, Lee County, Pea Ridge and Springdale – to curate best practices and thought leadership that can be replicated across the state (read more about our first ForwARd Thinking Conference).
We are also looking to our Communities to help us conduct a review of current regulatory practices (paperwork, operations, external needs, etc.) to determine what should be deemed unnecessary or shifted to additional school staff.
We’re proud to also see the Arkansas Department of Education step up in its state plan to incorporate some leadership requirements that will benefit all schools. The first is continuing to refine and integrate opportunities from the existing work of the Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) and the Leader Excellence and Development System (LEADS) by helping districts offer integrated and aligned professional development. The second is creating statewide networks of experienced school leader mentors to work with schools in need of additional leadership assistance, including 16 lead principals to lead facilitated Professional Learning Community (PLC) journeys as a part of the Arkansas Leadership Quest Program.
Community Update on Effective Leadership
By our community partners, Tina and Trina Fletcher of Fletcher Education Solutions
Over the past four months, we have gained much insight from those in leadership within both the Crossett and Lee County communities. Attendees of our ForwARd monthly meetings have been given an opportunity to join one of five committees focused on improving education in their community. One of the strongest committees in both communities is the Teacher Pipeline/Leadership committee. A mixed membership of teachers, administrators and even students, this committee is focused largely on recruiting and retaining effective teachers by ensuring they have what they need to succeed when they arrive in Crossett – in and outside of the school building.
In April, we led focus group sessions with Crossett teachers who overwhelmingly agreed that the school district does a great job of not only providing teachers with professional development opportunities but also encouraging teachers to research additional opportunities to grow as educators and funding the entire costs of their experiences. ForwARd’s goal is to ensure these types of PD opportunities will play a vital role in keeping quality teachers in Crossett and other Arkansas communities.
“As a Lee County educator and Teach for America Corp member, I really appreciate the opportunity to teach in a small town surrounded by a close community. I’m grateful for the opportunities for professional development offered by Teach for America and the Lee County School District. I am hopeful that additional opportunities to continue my development as an educator will present themselves so that my skills outside of the realm of education are beneficial to my students and their families.” -Alondra Jimenez, an Arkansas Teach for America Corp member at Lee County High School.