EDUCATION: More than job-training

Arkansas LEARNS Act Sections 30-37—Mostly Money

Seventh in a series of articles intended to make the contents of the Arkansas LEARNS Act accessible to the ordinary reader.

Of these eight sections, four have to do with money matters, and three have to do with terminating employees when they are deemed undeserving of continuing to get money.

Section 30

 Math intervention By the 2023-2024 school years, every public school district and charter school shall develop a math intervention plan for each student in grades 3-8 who is not performing at or above grade level.

As with underperforming readers (Section 29), students underperforming in math will be given access to “high-dosage targeted math tutoring.”

The math tutoring will take the form of one of the following:

  • three or more tutoring sessions a week in a one on one or small group setting
  • assignment to teacher with value-added model score in top quartile or, if unavailable, assignment to teacher with a highly effective rating.
  • provision with extended time on math instruction during or after school

Section 31 

Incentives for recruitment and retention in “high-priority” districts

A “high priority district” is a public school district in which 80% or more of students are national school lunch students.

Signing and retention bonuses: A one-time “new teacher” signing bonus $5,000 is offered for a first-time high priority teacher.

A new teacher who continues to teach in the same high priority district for two more years is to receive another $4,000 for those two years.

A teacher who continues to teach in the high priority district after the third year is to receive $3,000 per each subsequent year.

Section 32

Repeal and suspension of items in Fair Dismissal Act

6-17-812 repeals payment agreement for teachers who volunteer to teach more than the maximum number of students permitted per day.

Section 33

This section defines the terms “teacher” and “probationary teacher.”

A teacher is anyone, exclusive of a superintendent or assistant superintendent, who is required to hold a teacher license.

A probationary teacher is a teacher who has not completed three successive years of employment. (A school district can add a year to probation.)

This section also states that standard for dismissal “should be raised to a standard of just and reasonable cause.”

Previously, the standard for dismissal was “cause that is not arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory.”

The rest of the section describes what must be done to justify dismissal.

Section 34

 This section describes what must be done to dismiss a school employee who does not possess a teacher’s license.

Section 35

This is the much-publicized section that sets the base salary for Arkansas teachers at $50,000.

Section 36

This section also deals with teacher termination, specifically that of a teacher who has been “placed in intensive support status under the Teacher Excellence and Support System.”

Section 37

Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program

This is the “value-added” section that describes how teachers may earn a bonus of $10,000 based on a formula that involves student test scores weighed against prior performance.


Section 31: There is a catch. These bonuses are “subject to the appropriation and availability of funding.”

Section 33: I don’t see how changing specific causes to “just and reasonable cause” is “raising” the standard. One can hope that teachers will not be dismissed for arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory reasons.

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