Featured resource: Professional Learning Conditions and Practices

Equitable instruction practices are a powerful lever for academic achievement for all Arkansas students, especially in these challenging times. We already know about the impact of the “summer slide” on student learning—now we are likely to see the impact of pandemic-related school disruptions for years to come. Reimagining the 2021-22 school year will require a focus on all students having access to grade-level, worthy work, amplified by best practices in pedagogy. 

In partnership with ForwARd Arkansas, Instruction Partners is launching a sponsored community of practice that brings together a group of Arkansas system leaders. This cohort will learn from, and learn with, each other. Topics include using data to reflect on the past year, addressing unfinished learning, formative assessment strategies in the context of the 21-22 school year, and accelerating student learning. 

Why join the Community of Practice?

  • Assess existing instructional plans with support from Instruction Partners.
  • Learn how just-in-time strategies with high-quality curriculum materials can address unfinished learning. 
  • Apply formative assessment strategies for planning the 2021-22 school year. 
  • Collaboratively describe what it means to accelerate student learning to inform the current structure of planning, coaching, and future professional learning.

What we’ll cover

The community of practice will explore the leadership practices necessary to implement instruction and learning supports that meet the moment while staying focused on long-term recovery goals, using these three questions as a guide:

  • Are students given worthy work?
  • Are students doing the work?
  • Are students learning?

Leadership teams will use the above questions to step back and evaluate their plans from the first half of the year. Please see the table below for a detailed overview of each session.

What’s included in the Community of Practice

  • Four sessions 
  • One individual coaching session with a member of the Instruction Partners team

Who participates from each district?

  • District leader responsible for curriculum decision-making and implementation (e.g. superintendent, assistant superintendent, curriculum lead)
  • Special education and/or English language learner district leads (optional) 
  • Building principal
  • Member of a regional Education Service Cooperative (optional)

When are the sessions?

  • May 11, 2021 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
  • May 25, 2021 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
  • June 8, 2021 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
  • June 22, 2021 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Application and selection

The upcoming cohort will only have space for up to eight district teams. If you are interested in joining us, please notify us of your interest and submit an application. Applications are brief but necessary to gather information and interest for the cohort. Teams will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Application responses and agreement to the required commitments
  • Diversity of the cohort across:
    • Location
    • District size
    • District setting (rural, suburban, urban)
  • Student population (Priority students including students of color, students in poverty, students learning English, and students with disabilities)

How to join

Please send an email to Courtney Lincoln at clincoln@forwardarkansas.org to inform ForwARd Arkansas of your interest in applying.  

Submit a brief application (less than ten minutes to complete) to be included for consideration. 


Community of Practice Experience Overview

The table below offers an example of the arc of the sessions.

The focus of this session will be to reflect on  instructional  plans in order to understand what adjustments need to be made for the upcoming school year. Leaders will have an opportunity to step-back on their instructional data (with a focus on students in priority groups), and identify key areas of strength and areas for improvement.

How can unfinished learning best be addressed? This session will build on prior work around diagnosing learning and leveraging HQIM to ensure all students are able to both access grade-level content and continue learning that is unfinished.

The focus of this coaching call will be to review the plans created by each district, progress monitor the plan using any new data, and support next steps in improving systems, wellbeing and connections, and/or instruction.

Are students learning the concepts and skills necessary for their grade level? During this session, leaders will reflect on district formative assessment practices and structures to support it. Collaboratively, teams will build on current formative assessment strategies and apply them to the upcoming school year.


How do we know students are learning? Districts will learn about the Curriculum Support Guide and how it could support their first steps in planning for the upcoming school year. Participants will be asked to reflect on the questions from the first session: 

  • Are students doing the work?
  • Are students learning?

One-on-one coaching

The focus of this coaching call will be to review the plans created by each district, progress monitor the plan using any new data, and support next steps in improving systems, wellbeing and connections, and/or instruction. These sessions will include targeted resources and individualized support.

About Instruction Partners

Instruction Partners is a nonprofit organization providing support to school systems by observing teaching and learning, making a practical plan for instructional improvement, and developing teacher and leader capacity to carry out that plan. Learn more about our services.​ We keep one foot in practicality and the other in evidence-based best practices, because we believe that leveraging high-quality, grade-level content and providing just-in-time supports will accelerate learning for all students.

ForwARd Arkansas

About ForwARd Arkansas

ForwARd Arkansas is a public-private partnership established in 2014 by the Arkansas State Board of Education, the Walton Family Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to accelerate the innovative and equitable transformation of Arkansas’s Pre-K to 12 education system to deliver excellent outcomes. The ForwARd vision is that Arkansas becomes a national leader in educational equity and every student graduates prepared for success in college and the workplace.