In April 2019, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law the Transformation and Efficiencies Act which allowed for the number of cabinet-level agencies to be reduced by over half and accomplished the largest reorganization of state government in almost 50 years. The passage of the law restructured the Arkansas Department of Education to include the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Arkansas School for the Deaf, which previously operated under an independent board.
Historically, The Arkansas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired (ASBVI) and the Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD) operated autonomously from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) with distinct policies, procedures, and traditions. Funded through a separate legislative appropriation, each school was under its own superintendent and retained independent facilities.
After the 2019 restructuring, ADE partnered with the Region 14 Comprehensive Center (R14CC) to create one strategic plan for each school aligned with ADE's strategic plan. The goal was to ensure high-quality education to all enrolled students.
Left to Right: Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired logo, Arkansas Department of Education logo, and the Arkansas School for the Deaf logo
ADE recognized the value of aligning each school’s strategic plan with the strategic focus areas of ADE’s strategic plan:
Building foundational literacy
Strengthening pathways to a fulfilling career and life
Serving the needs of the whole learner
Equipping staff and strengthening systems
R14CC supported ASBVI with developing the literacy, staff, and systems components of its strategic plan, including determining what data the school would collect to understand whether it was progressing toward the plan.
R14CC supported ASD with aligning its strategic plan to the foundational literacy focus of ADE’s strategic plan by assisting ASD in selecting a literacy curriculum and implementing professional development for educators. R14CC also helped establish a process for reviewing student progress data and using it to improve instruction. In March 2023, R14CC trained ASD leadership in literacy instruction, classroom observations, effective coaching, and making data-informed decisions.
School Climate and Culture
R14CC assisted ASBVI with planning and rolling out a school climate and culture survey in the spring of 2023. This survey aimed to gather feedback from families about their children’s education. It had a 30% response rate with largely favorable results. R14CC debriefed results and recommendations for implementation with ASBVI. The survey will be extended to a broader group of participants in 2023-24 with support from R14CC.
R14CC continues to assist ASBVI with the remaining two sections of its strategic plan: strengthen pathways to a fulfilling career and serve the needs of the whole learner. This support will include determining which data to collect to meet the goals in each strategic plan area. R14CC will also continue to support ASD by assisting with the professional learning of educators on ASD's new literacy curriculum, collecting data on student progress, and using that data to inform literacy instruction. In addition, the Board of Trustees has requested expert support from the R14CC team in the search for a new ASD superintendent.