The Arkansas Rural Educator Network (AREN) includes 26 districts across the state working with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) to improve teaching and learning, with support from the Walton Family Foundation. The goal of the partnership is to build educator capacity in rural school districts through customized professional learning and networking opportunities. The AREN districts are using networks to collaborate and learn from one another. While this started in response to the pandemic, districts are finding that these learning opportunities are continuing to make a big difference in teaching and learning.
The work districts are doing together to build and sustain an effective teacher workforce through the AREN project is showing promise in responding to the unique challenges raised by the pandemic and the long-term needs of the profession.
AREN’s goals include: building instructional leadership, strengthening instruction, and advancing implementation of high-quality curriculum through training & personalized coaching. AREN is also creating opportunities for educators across the state to collaborate and develop communities of practice.
We have seen that building the capacity of district and school leaders can alleviate many challenges that teachers face, and impact student success.
While learning losses across the state during the pandemic were substantial, 9 out of 11 districts achieved improvement in one or more tested subjects from 2021 to 2022.
The coming year is an exciting opportunity to build on this progress, and address the needs of students across these communities.