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State Board of Education Joins Strategic Partnership with Foundations to Improve Educational Opportunity in Arkansas

August 14, 2014

The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday voted to establish a strategic partnership with the state’s two leading foundations committed to increasing educational attainment. Through the ForwARd initiative, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Walton Family Foundation will lead the development of a comprehensive plan to strengthen public education in the state targeted on recommendations for academically distressed schools and districts.

“Every Arkansas student should graduate high school fully prepared for success in college and the workplace,” said Sam Ledbetter, chairman of the Arkansas State Board of Education. “The time is now to develop an actionable plan that will involve multiple stakeholders in communities with schools or districts in academic distress to push our state forward to ensure high-quality educational opportunities for all Arkansans.”

According to recent research, the economic impact of ensuring all Arkansas students graduate high school prepared for college would save the state approximately $50 million annually in college remediation costs and lost earnings. This research demonstrates that the future success of Arkansas’s economy begins with the success of the state’s students.

“At the center of any vibrant community is a strong public school system with high achieving students, engaged parents and residents, dedicated teachers, and visionary school leaders,” said Ledbetter. “The strategic recommendations of the ForwARd initiative will allow our state to create one of the finest public education systems in the nation.&rdquo

Later this fall, the ForwARd initiative will release The State of Public Education in Arkansas, a report featuring baseline data on the state’s educational outcomes. The ForwARd initiative will also begin to convene educators, parents, educational advocacy stakeholders, and policymakers in support of a strategic planning process. The comprehensive strategic plan is scheduled to be completed by summer 2015