In 2020, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and the Walton Family Foundation started the Arkansas Rural Educator Network (AREN) to improve teaching and learning in rural districts. AREN builds educator capacity through customized professional learning and networking opportunities. Over its first three years, AREN served 27 rural districts, impacting more than 23,000 students in the third year.
An evaluation of the AREN partnership's third-year yielded the following key findings:
1. 99% of district and school leaders were satisfied with the professional learning opportunities.
2. 95% of district and school leaders rated the networking meetings as either good or excellent.
3. A sample of teachers demonstrated significant improvement in classroom observation scores.
4. 90% of AREN districts grew more than their matched comparison districts on at least one Arkansas state assessment.
The findings show that the AREN partnership is impacting students in rural communities. The partnership remains committed to providing targeted, high-quality services that meet each district’s unique needs.
Read more about the work in our research brief below.