LITTLE ROCK — Because of their efforts to improve student access to a high-quality education by extending the reach of excellent teachers to more students, the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education recognized two schools as Arkansas Opportunity Culture Model Schools.
Forrest City Junior High School in the Forrest City School District and Lincoln Middle School in the Lincoln School District recently received surprise visits from DESE team members informing them of the recognition. In addition to receiving the distinction of being named an Opportunity Culture Model School, both schools were given a large banner they can display at their school and will be recognized at the May State Board of Education meeting.
“The Opportunity Culture School model serves as another best practice that schools around the state are embracing and implementing,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “Both Forrest City Junior High School and Lincoln Middle School have demonstrated their commitment to the model and are seeing great success as a result. I congratulate the educators and administrators for a job well done."
The Opportunity Culture School model gives teachers the opportunity to grow professionally and earn more pay without leaving the classroom. The model uses multi-classroom leaders, or teachers who support other teachers on their team by providing coaching and feedback; setting annual goals; providing input regarding how best to structure learning time; and organizing teaching roles to fit each teacher’s strengths, content knowledge, and professional development goals.
Multi-classroom leaders also lead teams in analyzing student-learning data and changing instruction as needed to support high-growth learning for every student. They are assisted by Reach Associates, who are similar to paraprofessionals and provide additional supports to students.
To become a model school, Opportunity Culture Schools can request an evaluation, which involves interviews with teachers and administrators and review of artifacts and documentation provided by the school. A model school must exemplify the principles listed below, as well as provide ongoing professional learning and support, communication, instructional planning, and instructional improvement.
• Reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams.
• Pay teachers more for extending their reach. • Fund pay within regular budgets. • Provide protected in-school time and clarity regarding how to use it for planning, collaboration, and development. • Match authority and accountability to each person’s responsibilities.
In addition to successfully implementing the Opportunity Culture School principles, Lincoln Middle School gives students the ability to control their learning pace, provides students with embedded personalized learning time, and connects them with a mentor.
At Forrest City Junior High School, multi-classroom leaders provide real-time observations, feedback, and support to their team of teachers, resulting in students receiving instructional support in a timely manner. Teachers also are provided planning and collaboration time each week.