Letter from Our President

Building on the legacy of Governor Rockefeller, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) supports the success of all Arkansas children. For more than forty years, WRF has invested in research and systems change that improve educational outcomes for students in our state. We believe all Arkansans fare better when children have equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative represented a momentous opportunity to establish rigorous, consistent standards for all children to ensure that they receive a first-class education. When the Arkansas State Board of Education (SBE) adopted these internationally benchmarked standards in 2010, it was determined to provide Arkansas students a new level of college and career readiness. The SBE also committed to clear and consistent guidelines about what every student should know in English language arts, literacy, and mathematics at the end of each grade. Arkansas joined the majority of U.S. states in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

In 2015, Governor Asa Hutchinson established a Council on Common Core Review. Parents, educators, and community leaders throughout the state shared how Arkansas should build upon the existing standards to establish the best strategy for educating students. Together, Arkansans thoroughly reviewed the Common Core Standards after several years of implementation, and, based on this review, the Arkansas Department of Education revised the standards to ensure the state's public education system would prepare students for college and career within the context of their future economic needs and what employers expected from highly qualified, competitive employees

What's Working in Arkansas State Standards is part of WRF’s sustained commitment to documenting best practices through our What’s Working in Arkansas Series. As with past resources, the Foundation has documented successful programs, practices, and approaches while exploring how these successes can be scaled throughout the state.

Our investigation of what worked in Arkansas’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards is guided by five education priorities:

  1. We believe in effectiveness through high-quality standards and thus share examples of successful in-school instruction 
  2. We support professional development for teachers that facilitates continued ownership of rigorous, high-quality standards by educators in the classroom
  3. We take action to provide an equitable education for all students regardless of race, income level, or geography
  4. We value out-of-school programs that prepare all students to succeed 
  5. We advocate for more educational initiatives that facilitate students' transition from high school to college and career

WRF will continue to use its resources to promote policies and systems that ensure all Arkansas children have the opportunity to learn. Through What's Working in Arkansas State Standards, we invite educators, policymakers, foundations, and concerned residents to become informed and join the conversation. This is a meaningful step in our collective endeavor to ensure all Arkansas students graduate ready to succeed in college and the workplace.

 

PRESIDENT & CEO
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation