• Dennis McCaslin

Fort Smith Northside selected for Professional Learning Communities at Work project


Northside High School has been named a Professional Learning Communities at Work Project school for the 2020-2021 school year by the Arkansas Department of Education and Solution Tree, a national provider of education training.

"We are so excited to be a part of this project. We believe that with the help of Solution Tree associates and other resources that Northside will continue to grow academically. The possibilities are endless!” said Keri Rathbun, Northside High School Principal.

Northside, along with eight schools and two districts, join 29 other Arkansas schools and four districts previously chosen through an application and evaluation process to participate in the project. Northside will receive up to 50 days of training, coaching, and support to build and sustain a strong culture of collaboration that will enhance student learning.



The school will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessments, and proven instructional strategies. During the second year, the school will deepen its understanding and focus on implementing multi-tiered systems of support, followed by strengthening their systems and sustaining the process in year three.


Act 427 of 2017, which amended Arkansas Code Ann. § 6-20-2305(b)(5), provides funding for the project.

"I am always excited when we take a proven best practice model, implement it here in Arkansas, and see continued success,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The PLC model is one of those examples. It has transformed the day-to-day operations and culture at schools around the state, leading to improved outcomes with student learning. Congratulations to this new cohort of schools selected to join the PLC family, and congratulations to the four schools from the first cohort that were selected as model schools for the state.”

“Not only is the PLC at Work model one of the most highly-recognized best practices in the country, it is backed by numerous years of research. Since launching the PLC initiative in Arkansas, we have seen teachers across multiple subject areas come together to collaborate, lead by example, and make needed changes that have transformed student learning at their schools. The work is hard, but the payoffs have been huge. Congratulations to the new cohort and to the four schools recently named model schools. You serve as leading examples for all schools in the state,” said Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key.

Both Ballman Elementary School and Spradling Elementary School participated in the first cohort and were recently named Professional Learning Communities Model Schools for excellence in carrying out the PLC at Work program of using teacher collaboration.

Northside High School was also recently named a Model PLC school. It is the only high school in Arkansas that is a Model PLC school.

In order to be named a model school, a school must demonstrate a commitment to PLC concepts; implement those concepts for at least three years; present clear evidence of improved student learning; explain the culture, practices, and structures of the school or district and be considered for the recognition; and update school or district information on the site each year to show continued progress in meeting the PLC at Work criteria.

For more information, please read the Arkansas Department of Education Press Release.


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