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A-State Receives Grant in Educator Preparation Program Design Collaborative

Outlined Arkansas US state on grade school chalkboardArkansas State University is one of eight Arkansas universities participating in a program designed to help transform K-12 teacher recruitment, training and retention, according to Forward Arkansas, a non-profit organization leading an effort to recruit and retain qualified K-12 teachers.

A-State joins Arkansas Tech University, Harding University, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and University of Central Arkansas in the project.

Each institution will each receive a $100,000 grant as part of Forward Arkansas’s Educator Preparation Program (EPP) Design Collaborative.

“We want to support and champion Arkansas institutions that have the bold ideas and committed leadership needed to transform our state’s teacher pipeline,” said Ben Kutylo, Forward Arkansas’s executive director. “Through the collaborative, we aim to help Arkansas recruit more qualified teachers, better prepare educators for the challenges of the classroom and improve overall teacher retention rates.”

Forward Arkansas selected the universities through a competitive statewide process that sought a cohort of institutions of varying sizes and locations. It also was looking for universities with a proven commitment to increasing teacher diversity and a track record for placing educators in high-need locations.

Mary Jane Bradley, dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Science, said this program is a logical step forward for A-State, which has historically been a state leader in teacher preparation for decades.

“We are excited to be a part of a grant that affords us the opportunity to transform K-12 teacher education by recruiting, preparing and retaining teachers,” she added. “This collaborative will strengthen the partnerships between K-12 schools and A-State College of Education and Behavioral Science, leading to better education for all students.”

Forward initially intended to partner with six universities but, due to high interest, it expanded its EPP Design Collaborative to include eight institutions. The universities will receive design and technical assistance from Forward and its partners to develop a “transformation plan” that captures their vision for change and aligns with the Arkansas Department of Education’s future direction for educator preparation.

In the summer of 2022, a select number of institutions will have the opportunity to pursue additional funding for implementation.

The goal of Forward Arkansas, established in 2014 with grants from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Walton Family Foundation, is improving outcomes for all students. It works with districts, schools, educational partners and state leaders to transform learning, build educator capacity and provide equitable resources to ensure every student has access to, and is prepared for, opportunities in life and career. Details are online.

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