Department of Education Reform's Research Helps Inform Policy for Governor's LEARNS Act

Researchers in the Department of Education Reform, (top l to r) Andrew Camp, Josh McGee (bottom, l to r) Taylor Wilson and Gema Zamarro.
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Researchers in the Department of Education Reform, (top l to r) Andrew Camp, Josh McGee (bottom, l to r) Taylor Wilson and Gema Zamarro.

The Arkansas Department of Education recently launched a new website for Arkansans looking for information about the governor's education initiatives under the LEARNS Executive Order and LEARNS Act. Researchers in the U of A Office for Education Policy and Department of Education Reform have worked extensively with the state to provide data and evidence to help inform policy.

"At the Department of Education Reform, together with the Office for Education Policy, and in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education, we have been working hard to produce timely research that can help inform policy at the local, state and national level," said Gema Zamarro, professor of education reform and economics and Twenty-First Century Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality.

Their research is linked in multiple sections under "reports" on the website of the LEARNS program, which stands for "literacy, empowerment, accountability, readiness, networking and safety."

The Office for Education Policy's State of Early Childhood Education and Pre-Kindergarten in Arkansas and Parent Perspectives on PreK reports were used as the basis for the report under Literacy 1-B. The team's Teacher Workforce Report and research brief titled Movers, Switchers, and Exiters: Teacher Turnover during COVID-19 are cited and linked under Accountability 3-A.

Zamarro and Josh McGee, associate director of the Office for Education Policy and a faculty member in the Department of Education Reform, along with education reform doctoral students Andrew Camp and Taylor Wilson, have been studying challenges and potential solutions for the Arkansas educators' pipeline.

Since the summer of 2022, the team has produced two working papers (here and here), a research brief and three blog posts (herehere and here), disseminating timely research on Arkansas teachers' labor markets to a diverse audience.

"I am so happy that our work is being used to help shape state education policy while supporting the Department of Education Reform's and the College of Education and Health Professions' mission of supporting our state," Zamarro said.

Camp said he's thrilled and grateful to have the opportunity to influence Arkansas education policy as a doctoral student. "As a former teacher in Arkansas public schools, I witnessed the struggles of students and communities and wanted to contribute to the solution," he said. "My goal is to help address these problems with rigorous research and effective communication. The training I receive here equips me with advanced statistical skills, enables me to discuss pressing educational issues with stakeholders and allows me to provide valuable information to policymakers.

"I could not find this experience anywhere else. The Department of Education Reform offers a unique blend of technical expertise and professional relationships that makes this possible."


Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions


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