Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia

Our Initiatives

The ARCC provides capacity building technical assistance to state education agencies in our region. We collaborate with education leaders and policymakers on an array of initiatives, focusing on issues as diverse as college and career readiness and educator effectiveness. Read further to learn about our current initiatives in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and across the region.

Our 2017-2018 Work


School Improvement: ESSA Evidence-based Research

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will collaborate with the ARCC to help local education agencies (LEAs) select evidence-based practices in accordance with requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ARCC will assist KDE to survey LEAs about their capacity to implement evidence-based best practices. The ARCC team will also advise and consult with KDE as it 1) determines the need for, and develops, new resources, processes, and protocols related to evidence-based practices and 2) develops training webinars to help LEAs access and implement the resources, processes, and protocols provided by KDE. Finally, ARCC staff will help KDE staff to conduct another LEA survey to collect data on the utility and effectiveness of KDE-provided evidence-based resources.

Kentucky Department of Education Strategic Plan: Goal 2

The convergence of KDE’s new strategic plan and passage of ESSA has provided the state an opportunity to create a new accountability system that reflects its vision for Kentucky’s public school children. KDE and ARCC will collaborate to address the second goal of KDE’s strategic plan: to create a shared understanding of progress on strategic initiatives by collecting, discussing, and utilizing data; and to establish an organizational system to build lateral collaboration in support of strategic priorities. ARCC staff will assist KDE to develop a dashboard to track metrics associated with strategic initiatives and to establish internal affinity groups to support strategic goals.

Strategic Plan and Chronic Absenteeism

Because chronic absenteeism is a new accountability indicator in the state, KDE seeks to bolster its support to LEAs as they confront this issue. The ARCC will partner with the KDE Division of Student Services as its staff develops a division-wide strategic plan, encourages cross-departmental discussions of chronic absenteeism and persistence to graduation, and supports the development of resources to help LEAs improve their response to these issues. Specifically, ARCC staff will help KDE develop webinars and create a template for viewing student data to build the capacity of LEA leaders to assist schools in understanding, monitoring, and addressing issues of chronic absenteeism and persistence to graduation.

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Development and Support

Both Tennessee's strategic plan and its Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan establish educator support and enhancement as a priority. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and the ARCC are collaborating on three strategies to improve the knowledge of educators across the state. First, TDOE has selected an open-source management system through which to offer courses for professional development and career advancement and has invited the ARCC to consult on its content and use. The ARCC team will provide ongoing consultation to the TDOE Learning Management System Steering Committee in developing instructional design specifications and integrating new policies, procedures, and systems for online professional learning, as well as communication, initial roll out, and evaluation. Secondly, ARCC staff will assist TDOE in planning professional development to increase educator knowledge and use of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), which generates data on annual student academic growth. The ARCC will assist TDOE to develop a comprehensive communications plan for resources on TVAAS; consult on planning, instructional design, and development of the TVAAS professional development modules and quality review process; and review the implementation of the communications plan and make adjustments for the 2018-2019 school year. Thirdly, the ARCC will assist the state in planning and evaluating professional development for teachers conducted with the social and personal competencies (SPC) modules previously created in collaboration with the ARCC and the Center for Great Teachers and Leaders (CGTL). For the remaining modules, the ARCC will consult with TDOE in completing videotaping and editing; collaborate with CGTL on content, layout, and narration; and consult on final quality review.

Reading/Literacy Standards and Early Learning Assessments

Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen has prioritized early education foundations and literacy in both the state strategic plan and the ESSA plan. To achieve the first goal of the TDOE strategic plan—to improve the reading performance of Tennessee students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—TDOE has undertaken several initiatives. First, TDOE has asked the ARCC to consult on implementation of the Read to be Ready Coaching Network, by providing TDOE with examples of literacy and reading resources that other states make available for parents and educators and consult on which resources TDOE will offer. The ARCC will also assist TDOE in developing a process to organize, review, and update literacy resources for educators and parents; organize resources on its website; and create an ongoing process for review and updates. Second, the ARCC will partner with TDOE to improve administration and data analysis for the Read to be Ready summer grant program, by providing information about summer reading grant programs in other states and debriefing on implications for TDOE. With the ARCC team's assistance, TDOE staff will develop a data collection and analysis plan, and conduct data collection, analysis, and planning for school year 2018-2019. Thirdly, ARCC staff will provide TDOE staff with information about implementation of kindergarten entry assessment in other states to inform their pilot implementation of the Kindergarten Entry Inventory (KEI). The ARCC will assist in exploring the application of implementation science to the KEI implementation, and other assistance as requested.

Personalized Learning

In 2016, the TDOE Personalized Learning Task Force recommended that the state pursue two initiatives, micro-credentialing for teachers and competency-based education for students. During 2017-2018, the ARCC will consult and assist TDOE with the second year of pilot testing its micro-credentialing initiative and its first year pilot testing competency-based education strategies. The ARCC will consult with TDOE to analyze and report the data on the first year micro-credentialing pilot, articulate the year two pilot model, and apply improvement and implementation sciences to the model. The ARCC will also provide TDOE with updated resources and assist in the collection, analysis, and reporting of year two pilot data. To assist with TDOE’s pilot of competency-based education, the ARCC will consult in developing a pilot application template, share examples of applications from other states, and develop a scoring rubric. The ARCC will also collaborate with TDOE as they plan the processes, tools, and structures needed for effective implementation of this pilot, including identifying resources to be cataloged and presented to potential pilot partnerships. Lastly, ARCC will assist TDOE by analyzing and reporting on the competency-based education pilot, and implications for the next phase.

Building Local Education Agency Capacity to Improve Graduation Outcomes for Students

The ARCC will collaborate with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to improve its structural capacity to develop policies, procedures, and practices to support new graduation requirements aligned with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. The Virginia Board of Education developed the Profile of a Virginia Graduate to establish a framework that identifies knowledge and skills that students should attain during high school, including critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship. ARCC staff will also collaborate with VDOE to determine strategies to increase the capacity of local education agencies (LEAs) to implement the Profile of a Virginia Graduate and meet the college and career readiness standards outlined in Virginia's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. The ARCC will collaborate with VDOE to define the parameters of its strategic planning process and serve as advisor during strategic planning meetings, providing facilitation and other support. The ARCC will also assist VDOE in identifying resources such as tools, materials, and information about promising practices; developing and making available professional development to support LEA implementation; and developing a communication plan to increase LEA awareness of resources.

Building State and Local Education Agency Capacity to Improve Social-Emotional Outcomes for All Students

The VDOE requested assistance from the ARCC as the state designs, develops, and delivers a culturally responsive training series for coaches employed by the Virginia Tiered System of Support - Research and Implementation Center (VTSS-RIC) to address the challenges of disproportionality in discipline referrals across its schools. The state has found that when Virginia schools refer students with Individualized Education Programs, or belonging to a particular racial or ethnic group, for disciplinary reasons, they are significantly more likely to be suspended or expelled than other students. VDOE aims to increase its capacity to reduce disproportionate rates of discipline referrals through cultural sensitivity and awareness training for coaches and teachers. The ARCC will assist VDOE in determining ways to apply best practices employed by other state education agencies (SEAs) and school systems to build the capacity of coaches to support schools in reducing disproportionality in discipline and improving students’ social-emotional outcomes. ARCC staff will assist VDOE’s Office of Student Support to assess coaches’ professional development needs; identify resources that coaches and teachers could employ to respond constructively to discipline incidents; and develop, monitor, and refine training for practitioners.”

Supporting the Use of Formative Assessment Instructional Practices

The ARCC will continue to assist the VDOE as it builds the capacity of teachers to integrate formative instructional practices into classrooms across the state. This year, the ARCC team will help VDOE develop strategies to expand educator access to the state’s formative assessment online training modules, professional learning communities, and other online resources designed to promote a balanced, coherent system of assessment in the classroom. For example, ARCC staff will assist the VDOE team to create an online orientation session for the formative assessment training modules, develop a workshop on the use of learning progressions in different forms of assessment, and create a formative assessment web page for school divisions interested in completing formative assessment training. Additionally, the ARCC will facilitate collaboration among VDOE divisions/offices to explore strategies for coordination of initiatives supporting formative, performance-based, and other forms of assessment in the classroom. ARCC staff will also consult with VDOE staff as they seek ways to embed formative assessment instructional practices into a coherent, balanced state comprehensive assessment system.

Building a Rigorous Early Learning Trajectory for College- and Career-Readiness

For several years the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has collaborated with the ARCC in articulating its vision statewide for literacy by third grade, including developing children’s social, emotional, and executive functioning. ARCC staff members will continue to advise on the use of logic-modeling to operationalize goals, employing structured processes to evaluate P-5 Early Learning Advisory Committee logic-model outcomes and develop feedback loops to inform operations, building the knowledge and skills of WVDE staff to analyze and interpret data to measure and monitor impact. The ARCC also will promote collaboration across state agencies, partnering with WVDE to facilitate the Early Learning Executive Committee’s team meetings and support their subcommittee work. The ARCC team will consult with WVDE to develop the capacity of counties and their local education agencies to support a comprehensive approach to early learning through technical assistance and a network of support, developing and disseminating research-based resources that support the efforts of local literacy leaders to implement reading campaigns. The ARCC will advise WVDE on maximizing the impact of the Early Learning Network of Support’s five regional literacy specialists as well as the comprehensive content centers and other national experts. Lastly, the ARCC staff will partner with WVDE to document the structures and processes that led to the successful planning and implementation of the early learning initiative so that new WVDE initiatives may replicate the approach.

Building Rigorous STEM Instructional Pathways to Support Successful Transitions to College/Career

The WVDE has invited the ARCC to collaborate to refine the state’s STEM education vision and mission, articulate a theory of action, and determine the main components of a logic model. The purpose of this initiative, in its first year, is to develop a theory of action and logic model for STEM PreK-12 education that appropriately integrates coding and computer science into PreK-12 curriculum and designs a model for local implementation. The ARCC team will consult with WVDE to address logic modeling issues and determine how to use processes and structures to evaluate project outcomes. To guide the work, the ARCC will also prepare a literature review of STEM education best practices and a brief on exemplary SEA models of coding and computer science education. ARCC staff members will consult on developing or refining structures and processes to effectively lead, facilitate, and manage the STEM education initiative. The ARCC team will participate in assigned core team meetings and other activities with WVDE to work toward completion of core team goals outlined in the logic model. Lastly, the ARCC will advise WVDE about strategies for maximizing the impact of the STEM Education Advisory Council, including developing or refining collaboration and communication processes among WVDE offices and state STEM partners that lead to joint action on initiative goals.


Executive Connections

The ARCC has established the Executive Connections project to offer a virtual professional learning community for state board of education members and state education agency (SEA) executives. The ARCC staff will moderate the virtual learning community to enable peer-to-peer learning about different approaches for managing and resolving issues faced by these states. The ARCC will schedule, facilitate, and keep records of quarterly virtual meetings, with topics selected by state board members and SEA executives. By focusing on peer-to-peer networking, identifying common challenges, and exploring best practices, the ARCC will help SEA executives and state board members enhance their professional efficacy in support of coherent policies and procedures, providing technical assistance as requested, on such topics as strategic planning, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation, succession planning, and sustainability. Contingent on state board or SEA executive interest, the ARCC will facilitate training or work sessions to assist SEA staff and state board leaders in the application of tools.

Beyond College: Enhancing Career Readiness

The ARCC created the Enhancing Career Readiness project to connect SEA staff across the region in peer-to-peer discussion about their career pathways initiatives. SEA staff will learn about tools and strategies for communicating the benefits of career and technical education (CTE) programs, and engage with other SEA staff responsible for CTE to discuss shared successes and issues concerning pathways. The ARCC team will coordinate and facilitate visits for SEA staff to other states to study their pathways initiatives and CTE programs in general. The ARCC will also facilitate monthly calls about topics of interest, such as middle school CTE alignment and career pathways, district/regional advisory councils, postsecondary incentives, and validated industry credentials. SEA staff may benefit from expanding their network of peers with CTE expertise, exploring new strategies to reform career readiness in their states, and communicating more effectively to students, parents, and businesses. The ARCC team will also coordinate with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) to identify and develop strategies and tools to better communicate the benefits of its Simulated Workplace to students, parents, and businesses, conduct interviews with businesses to obtain their perceptions, and partner with WVDE to determine how to use the findings to improve Simulated Workplace, conduct and analyze a second survey of CTE Completers, and develop an information resource guide to help other CTE programs communicate and market CTE to students.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Support

The ARCC will develop peer learning opportunities and tools to address emergent regional needs related to ESSA implementation through a peer-to-peer webinar series concerning issues associated with ESSA implementation by SEAs and local education agencies (LEAs), and a workgroup of regional stakeholders that will compile a meta-data repository of education databases that could inform monitoring of ESSA implementation and progress. This effort is expected to enhance SEA knowledge and skills and access to materials and other assets that support ESSA implementation. The ARCC team will also respond to ad hoc requests for technical assistance related to ESSA implementation and collaborate with ARCC state coordinators to identify emerging topics.

Building SEA Capacity to Support Students with Literacy-Related Disabilities

SEAs in the region report a need for technical assistance to build their capacity to put into action best practices in literacy screening, identification, instruction, and intervention for students with literacy-related disabilities, including dyslexia. They report the need to empower schools to build local capacity to support students with literacy-related disabilities, create a multi-tiered system of support framework, and improve understanding among school staff of data and interventions, including access to professional development and resources. The ARCC will collaborate with SEAs to build their knowledge and capacity as well as the capacity of schools and districts to implement effective screening, identification, and instructional support for dyslexia and other reading disabilities. To provide SEAs with a firm foundation on critical issues the ARCC team will host regional professional development events on three topics: 1) screening for and understanding dyslexia and other literacy-related disabilities; 2) improving reading achievement for students with dyslexia and other literacy-related disabilities in K-3 general education; and 3) identifying dyslexia and other literacy-related disabilities and intensifying interventions to maximize reading success. The ARCC staff will further provide guidance to SEAs on designing and facilitating continuous improvement data summits that support LEA use of formative and summative data to inform model implementation of evidence-based literacy practices and tools and measures that can feasibly and accurately capture implementation status. Lastly, the ARCC will facilitate, through online peer-to-peer exchanges, sharing feedback on National Council on Independent Living tools, resources, and systems to support students with literacy-related disabilities.