Rogers High among schools selected for state pilot project
Group emphasizes team building among teachers to improve learning
Rogers High School is among 11 Arkansas schools and one school district selected to participate in a professional learning communities pilot project.
They were among 86 applying to receive support from Solution Tree, a national professional development organization that specializes in team building among teachers as a way to improve student learning.
The schools and district will receive up to 50 days of training, coaching and support to build and sustain a
strong culture of collaboration.
A number of schools in Rogers applied for the project, and Virginia Abernathy, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, is excited Rogers High School was chosen.
Staff at Rogers schools are at various stages of working in teams and are familiar with Solution Tree workshops, she said.
The state project will provide more intensive, focused work to improve instruction and use student academic data to drive instruction, Abernathy said. The teachers and administrators also hope to see improvement in the graduation rate and to reduce absences.
“The ultimate goal is to improve student achievement,” she said. “How can we do a better job of meeting the needs of every student that attends Rogers High School.”
Participants in the state’s pilot project will be matched with a certified Professional Learning Communities at Work associate from Solution Tree. The associates will provide on-site training, observation and coaching. The selected schools and district will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessment and proven instructional strategies.
Many schools schedule time for teachers to meet in structures they call professional learning communities, but a true professional learning community involves teams of educators working interdependently to achieve a common goal, according to the late Richard DuFour. The longtime public school educator was one of the architects of Professional Learning Communities at Work. He died in February. He spoke
during a 2015 three-day institute at Springdale Har-Ber High School.
The term professional learning community has existed since the 1970s, but DuFour contributed to a greater understanding of how to make them work effectively when he co-authored the book Professional Learning Communities at Work with Robert Eaker, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Middle Tennessee State University. Solution Tree published the book in 1998.
“When educators share best practices and work together to address areas that need improvement, our students have endless opportunities to grow and learn,” Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said in announcing the selected campuses. “These schools are committed to ensuring Arkansas leads the nation in studentfocused education.”
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