Symposium to feature discussion on achievement gap in congressional district 4

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Arkansas Commission on Closing the Achievement Gap in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff – School of Education Literacy Institute will host a symposium Friday, June 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Sylvester Early auditorium of Henderson-Young Hall (Business Building).  With the theme, “It takes a Village to Educate a Child,” the symposium will provide a forum for citizens in Congressional District 4 (Union, Yell, Ashley, Scott, Clark, Polk, Madison, and Drew counties) and the State to discuss the rising concerns and sense of urgency in closing the achievement gaps of students in schools.

Several presenters will speak on topics focusing on the achievement gap of students: 1) funding; 2) parental and community involvement; 3) barriers interfering with student achievement; and 4) Common Core State Standards.  During a roundtable, several representatives from local school districts will share their strategies and progress to remove their school(s) from being a “Focus or Priority” school in need of improvement as defined by the state.

The Arkansas Commission on Closing the Achievement Gap was amended and voted into law in 2009 during the 87th General Assembly, Regular Session by former State Representative David Rainey.  Through a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education, the Commission strives to ensure that all children have an opportunity for an equitable education that will eliminate the disparity in test scores between and among diverse learning communities of students. 

During the year, the commission members meet to address the factors contributing to the achievement gap in schools throughout Arkansas. School district representatives — teachers, instructional facilitators, education service center directors, career coaches, building principals, parents, community, and civic leaders are invited to offer their input on the issues. 

The Commission is made of representatives from K-12, vocational, higher education, and legislative backgrounds: Dr. Dawn Tirado Simpson, Commission Chair, Arkansas Career Training Institute; Dr. Jesse Hargrove, Philander Smith College; Mr. Gus Williamson, Batesville School District; Dr. Eddie McCoy, Consultant; Ms. Elfreda Boyd, Pine Bluff School District; Mr. Jonathan Fulkerson, Blytheville School District; Dr. Vera Lang Brown, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Dr. Luis Fernando Restrepo, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; Ms. Lillian Williams, Arkansas Department of Higher Education , Ex Officio Designee for Shane Broadway; Mr. Shane Broadway, Department of Higher Education, ex officio; Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Arkansas Department of Education, ex officio; Ms. Susan Harriman, Arkansas Department of Education, Ex Officio Designee for Tom Kimbrell; Mr. Charles Killion, Retired Educator; and Jack Crumbly, Former Arkansas State Representative.

The symposium is open to school teachers, school administrators, parents, community members/leaders, university faculty/administration, teacher education majors, organizations, ministers, state and local officials.  There are no registration fees for this event, and participants attending can receive professional development clock hours.  Registration will continue through June 6.  For more information, please contact Dr. Vera Lang Brown, coordinator of symposium at (870) 575-8275 or or Dr. Tirado – Simpson at


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