In 2015, ForwARd Arkansas identified seven focus areas for its work to increase equity and drive enhanced educational outcomes for all students, detailed in their A New Vision for Arkansas Education. Significant strides have been made, click here for detailed progress to date.
Following a series of ForwARd Together Conversations convened in May 2018 with hundreds of Arkansas educators, business and civic leaders, policy-makers, parents, students and other partners in Crossett, Independence County, Lee County, Little Rock, Pea Ridge and Springdale, three key themes have emerged to help provide focus for ForwARd’s programmatic and policy priorities moving forward.
- Increase Access to High-Quality Pre-K Programs
- Elevate Employability Skills as a Learning Outcome
- Strengthen the Educator Pipeline
Underlying these three priorities is an understanding and strong belief that:
- Partnerships between communities and their schools are vitally important to accomplishing this work. These partnerships will help align local education and economic development priorities and provide opportunities to support students and families outside the classroom.
- Innovation is key. Personalized learning, STEM/STEAM programs, family literacy initiatives, career academies, community schools and other initiatives taking place now in communities across the state are providing students with the real-world skills needed to succeed in college, in careers and in life, while also creating a competitive advantage for the communities where they are offered. We must explore ways to expand and replicate these innovative and successful initiatives statewide.
- Broadband access is needed for all students, schools and families across Arkansas. Rural communities will continue to be left behind unless innovative, lower-cost approaches for broadband development are developed and put in place across the state.
- More equitable funding is needed for both educational facilities and programs.
- Access to quality, integrated longitudinal data to track outcomes between pre-K, K-12, postsecondary education/training and workforce participation is essential to inform future planning and resource allocation.