FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The LEARNS Act will attempt to provide funding for more literacy coaches in Arkansas to focus on the state’s worst-performing schools.

More literacy coaches will be working in the state due to the LEARNS Act.

These coaches will focus on students in pre-K through 3rd grade and teachers in schools rated “D” and “F”.

Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva says more than 45,000 students will receive help from the coaches to improve their education.

“We want to make sure that we have access to grade-level instruction as well as the appropriate interventions that the students need, whether it’s during the school day or whether it’s after the school day,” Oliva said. 

Literacy coaches are not new to the education system.

Judy Fields is a literacy coach who works with the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative.

She says a big part of her job is setting teachers up for success.

“The more that teachers know about how to teach their students, the more they know about their content and the more they know about how to deliver that content to their students increases student learning and achievement,” Fields said.

Dr. Missy Hixson, assistant director and teacher center coordinator with the cooperative, worries that putting so much emphasis on “D” and “F” schools as the LEARNS Act requires, might mean the needs of other better-graded schools might not be met.

Hixson says these grades are based on attendance, testing, and graduation rate of the school from 2021-2022

“Some of our other schools are not getting the support that we had originally been able to give them because 75% of their time has to be in those ‘D’ and ‘F’ schools,” said Hixson.

Literacy coach Wendy Cain works with teachers and students. 

She says some teachers move on quickly without knowing if students understood the lesson, and part of her job is making sure that doesn’t happen.

“If they need help on a certain skill, I’m there to make sure that they get it and that we know exactly what skill it is. They still need help so that students are getting more of an individualized curriculum,” Cain said.