The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville has announced a three-year, $10 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to create an academy designed to increase the effectiveness of early-career teachers.
The grant will establish the Arkansas Academy for Educational Equity, a training, research, and evaluation center dedicated to providing high-quality educators for struggling high-poverty schools in the state. Tom Smith, a professor of special education, and Gary Ritter, Twenty-First Century Chair in Education Policy, both in the College of Education and Health Professions, wrote the proposal and will be responsible for staffing the academy. Over the three-year period of the grant, the academy will recruit approximately a hundred and fifty to two hundred licensed early-career teachers to take part in intensive training during the summers and receive extensive mentoring throughout the school year. The academy's curricula will be aligned with language provided by the U.S. Department of Education that allows states to create outcomes-based training programs for educators based on innovative best practices and be responsive to needs identified by local school districts.
"This program meets one of university's eight guiding priorities of further meeting our mission to serve all of Arkansas," said Ritter. "The university has always done an excellent job of providing high-quality educators for the northwest region. However, this program will enable us to better serve the students in low-income communities across the state."