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Academies of Central Arkansas Frequently Asked Questions


WHAT IS FORD NEXT GENERATION LEARNING (NGL)?

ford next generation learning

Ford Next Generation Learning is a collaborative community-driven approach to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. young people prepared for college, careers, lifelong learning, and leadership;
  2. increased community prosperity shared by all;
  3. a strengthened talent pipeline;
  4. educational equity and justice for all; and
  5. the capacity to contribute and go further

WHAT DOES FORD NGL VALUE?

Ford Next Generation Learning comprises a network of mutually supportive communities that encourage one another to continuously improve. They seek opportunities to innovate and go further in their quest to increase student achievement, improve workforce and economic development outcomes, and ultimately achieve community prosperity.

WHAT IS THE FORD NEXT GENERATION LEARNING FRAMEWORK?

Ford NGL mobilizes educators, local employers and community leaders to prepare a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life – prepared to compete successfully in our modern economy.

Three distinct but interconnected strands comprise the ford NGL Framework. These strands enable whole communities to design and carry out a long-term plan for revitalizing education:

Transforming Teaching and Learning:
Creating meaningful learning experiences that enable students to learn and apply academic, 21st century, and technical knowledge and skills to real-world challenges and that equip them for success in college and careers.

Transforming the Secondary School Experience:
Creating and maintaining the career and interest-themed academies and the collaborative culture, structures, and practices necessary to transform teaching and learning and to capitalize on community engagement.

Transforming Business and Civic Engagement:
Engaging employers, educators, and community leaders in building and sustaining transformed secondary schools that promote community growth and prosperity by preparing students for future work and citizenship.

WHAT IS A FORD NEXT GENERATION LEARNING (NGL) COMMUNITY?

Ford NGL is a unique and comprehensive community initiative that brings together educators, employers and community leaders to implement a proven model for transforming secondary schools. These transformed schools infuse the high expectations and academic rigor of college preparatory academic programs with the real-world relevance and rigor of career and technical education. Students choose career pathways across a variety of sectors that drive economic growth in their communities. Ford NGL uses the power of workplace relevance and business relationships to excite young people about education and to prepare them for success in college, careers and life.

HOW DOES BECOMING A FORD NGL COMMUNITY BENEFIT THE COMMUNITIES OF PULASKI COUNTY?

Communities benefit from access to the Ford NGL network, which cultivates a spirit of sharing and innovation aimed at improving the practices used across our communities. Communities are able to cut down the amount of time and money it takes them to transform their secondary school experience by learning from the network of other communities who have been in their shoes. Each Ford NGL community has a dedicated Ford NGL National Advocate and team Coach, who supports and guides communities as they develop and implement a Ford NGL Master Plan to scale and sustain a career academy network and prepare students for success in college, careers and life. Ongoing access to innovative approaches that emerge from the network helps communities develop the local capacity to sustain community engagement and continue to transform the high school experience.

HOW DOES FORD NGL INCLUDE BUSINESSES?

The NGL program prepares students for life after high school partially by involving businesses in the education process. Businesses partner with NGL schools in various ways. They might hold occasional chats with students at lunch or even offer mentorships. In Nashville, Tenn., the first Ford Next Generation Learning community, some businesses have even installed centers in the schools that employ students. NGL business partners can also offer teacher externships during the summer so educators can learn how traditional school subjects are applied in the workforce.

HOW ARE THE ACADEMIES CHOSEN?

The Academies of Central Arkansas

The process begins with a Phase I assessment by the NGL experts, which includes a thorough analysis of the local schools and regional economy. The Phase I assessment for Pulaski County was conducted in January 2019. The results of that assessment are being used for Phase II (Envision), which includes a design session with the Superintendents and senior district administrators. Once approved by the District School Boards and Community Advisory Board, the Phase II process will continue with community engagement to identify the qualities of an ideal graduate. Once Phase II is complete, then Phase III (Plan) begins with local planning committees, comprised of community stakeholders, parents, teachers, district leadership, business leaders, faith-based leaders, elected officials, etc., making data-driven determinations as a group. Planning committees for Pulaski County have not been selected at this point. Public solicitation for committee members will occur if the districts elect to move forward with Phases II & III.

WHAT HAVE THE FOUR DISTRICTS COMMITTED TO?

At this point, each of the four superintendents have committed to have their district participate in a Phase I assessment paid for by the business community (completed in January 2019) through the Little Rock Regional Chamber. Additionally, the districts have committed to conduct the initial Design Session as part of Phase II (Envision) and will fund that among the districts. Any decisions beyond the Design Session will require School Board and Community Advisory Board approval, which we will be seeking in May 2019.

DOES THIS MEAN THE DISTRICTS ARE COMBINING?

No. The Ford NGL model can be applied individually in each district. Consolidation of the districts is not necessary at any point during the NGL process and has not been part of the discussion. The agreement to explore this model together, is simply an acknowledgement, that common challenges and opportunities exist across all four districts, and pursuing solutions as partners can lead to expedited and scalable success for all. 

WHAT CHANGES CAN I EXPECT TO SEE IN MY SCHOOL?

As the districts move forward beyond Phase I, an inclusive and collaborative local planning process would begin. Several committees, comprised of community stakeholders, parents, teachers, district leadership, business leaders, faith-based leaders, elected officials, etc., would work with Ford NGL experts and district leadership to craft plans for small learning communities within the existing high schools. Determinations on the scale and type of academies will be left to those community planning committees. For more information on NGL academies in other communities please view the following video: 

WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS INITIATIVE?

Phase I was underwritten by Entergy Arkansas through the Little Rock Regional Chamber as part of their investment in the educational and economic development success of Arkansas. These dollars cover the time and expertise of the Ford NGL team.

DOES THIS MEAN EVERY STUDENT HAS TO JOIN A CAREER ACADEMY?

At the moment, no decision to create academies has been made. Phase I is merely an exploratory study of the four school districts in Pulaski County. This question would not be tackled until Phases II and III should the districts elect to move forward. At that time, several committees, comprised of community stakeholders, parents, teachers, district leadership, business leaders, faith-based leaders, elected officials, etc., would work with Ford NGL experts and district leadership to craft the plan.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

If you are a business leader, elected official, or other community stakeholder interested in participating on a community committee during the Phase II (Envision) or Phase III (Plan) processes, please reach out to the Little Rock Regional Chamber at 501-374-2001.