The number of rural students enrolled in public schools is increasing both as an absolute number and a percentage of the total population – more than 1 million students. According to the 2013 Condition of Education report by the U.S. Department of Education roughly one third (32,000) of the approximately 100,000 public school in the United States on 2010-11 were located in rural areas. This is greater than the number of schools in the suburbs (27,000). The enrollment in these schools is growing due to an influx of young parents, immigrants and minorities who have been attracted by jobs in agriculture and energy.
There is evidence that student in rural schools can thrive as they are likely to have smaller classes with high levels of community support. There are many examples of successful rural schools. At the same time the high numbers of low-income rural students tend to have lower student achievement.
It is within this context, this NASBE study group will investigate rural education. This includes convening three in-person, two day meetings of state board members, panelists and experts, writing and disseminating a report with policy implications about rural education in this country at the NASBE Annual Meeting in October 2014 and to all state board members in the United States.
Meeting One: Jan 24-25, 2014 at Marriott Crystal City, Arlington, VA
Please find the agenda here.
Presenters: Robert Klein, Andy Smarick, Jenelle Leonard and Susan Headden. Please find presenters’ bio here.
In the first meeting, state board members had chosen the most concerning issues in rural education that they want to discuss in the study group. NASBE summarized those issues into a map, which you can find here.
Meeting Two: March 14-15, 2014 at Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, Arlington, VA
Please find the agenda here.
Presenters: Ron Daley, Rick Gaisford, Robert Mahaffey, Jane E. West. Please find presenters’ bio here.
NASBE compiled materials for the board members to better understand the issues discussed in the study group. Please find the materials below:
1. Recruiting and Retaining High-Quality Teachers in Rural Areas (2003)
Attracting teachers to rural schools and keeping them there has long been a challenge for rural school districts. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) raises the stakes for recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers and presents unique challenges for rural school administrators. This Policy Brief examines the issue from a policy perspective and suggests strategies for addressing the problem.
2. Fox, C., Waters, J., Fletcher, G., & Levin, D. (2012). The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs. Washington, DC: State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).
It is a simple fact that access to high-speed broadband is now as vital a component of K-12 school infrastructure as electricity, air conditioning, and heating. The same tools and resources that have transformed our personal,civic, and professional lives must be part of learning experiences intended to prepare today’s students for college and careers. College students rely on technology for academic success and to improve personal productivity. In the workplace, everyone from mechanics to accountants to physicians depends on technology to conduct their work, grow their businesses, and collaborate with their colleagues – both locally and globally.
3. Dorothy Hines and Kayla Mathis, 2007. North Carolina LEA Case Study: Regional Specific Incentives for Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Ensuring that every child receives a quality education is the goal of educators, parents, and community leaders throughout North Carolina. However, increasing nationwide teacher shortages has made meeting this goal a daunting task for low performing schools. In an effort to combat the repercussions of such shortages, State and local leaders are developing new teacher recruitment and retention initiatives aimed at attracting highly qualified teachers to their districts. Differential pay and teacher bonuses are methods that have been widely used by school districts to recruit teachers into low performing rural and urban schools; however, such plans are often unsuccessful on their own because they do not account for the differences between urban and rural school districts. We recommend that state and local leaders work together to develop recruitment and retention programs that incorporate the unique characteristics of the region they are targeting.
4. Page McCullough and Jerry Johnson, Ed.D, 2007. QUALITY TEACHERS: Issues, Challenges, and Solutions for North Carolina’s Most Overlooked Rural Communities. A Publication of the Policy Program of the Rural School and Community Trust on behalf of the North Carolina Rural Education Working Group
This report describes, on a number of measures, the challenges facing low-wealth rural school districts in eastern North Carolina as they relate to issues of teacher quality and ensuring that their students have a good teacher in each classroom. It describes five strategies that are being used in rural areas throughout the country to respond to these challenges, and specifically what North Carolina is doing around each strategy, including: growing your own; targeting incentives; improving recruiting and hiring practices; improving school level support for teachers; and using technology. In the last part of the report, we recommend local and state level activities for each of the five strategies, and add three recommendations that, based on our experience in this state and in other rural states, would help address the pressing issue of providing all children in North Carolina the teachers they deserve.
5. Transforming the Rural South: A Roadmap to Improving Rural Education, 2011. State Collaborative on Reforming Education.
For our rural communities, the connection between a quality education and a vibrant, sustainable economy has never been clearer. Unemployment rates in rural communities continue to outpace state and national rates. To get the jobs of the future, even in fields like manufacturing and agriculture which have not traditionally required postsecondary education, businesses are requiring that their workers obtain higher levels of education than ever before. In the face of these challenges, it is clear that making investments in education must be part of any strategy to ensure that our region remains economically vibrant and globally competitive.
Meeting Three: June 20-21, 2014 at Marriott Crystal City, Arlington, VA
Please find the agenda here.
Presentations: NASBE Martinez; NASBE June 2014 Farrie
From right to left: Dr. Z (MI), Tess Elshoff (OH), Thomas Campbell (WV), Dr. Luisa Iadeluca (NY), Nancy Perkins (ME), Mireya Reith(AR), Madhu Sidhu (MD), Francis Eberle, Acting Deputy Executive Director at NASBE, Maria Guitterez (GU), Winona Hao, Research Associate at NASBE