Study Groups

NASBE conducts annual study groups to provide professional development to members of state boards of education, set organization direction and priorites, and inform the state education policymaking process on key issues.

NASBE Study Group 2013

About Study Groups

The NASBE Board of Directors chooses two topics each year. State Board of Education members from across the country participate in a year long examination of a particular issue through three meetings in January, March, and June. Throughout these meetings, board members have the opportunity to hear from experts, practitioners, researchers and fellow policy makers on the issue as they develop recommendations for policy action for fellow board members.

View Study Group Archive
NASBE Rural Education Study Group (2014)

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

2. Broadband Imperative Summary

3. North Carolina Incentive Policies for Teacher Recruitment and Retention 

4. QUALITY TEACHERS: Issues, Challenges, and Solutions for North Carolina’s Most Overlooked Rural Communities

5. Transforming the Rural South: A Roadmap to Improving Rural Education





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Most students start school with a strong desire to learn. But over the years, that desire seems to wane. One study of 1,500 classrooms found that in 85 percent, fewer than half of all students were “engaged” in learning. In other words, only 15 percent of these classrooms had most of their students focused on learning.

The lack of student engagement manifests itself in many ways. A recent analysis published by the Center for American Progress (CAP), based on student surveys from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, found that students are general not engaged in what they are learning. Large percentages say their schoolwork is “too easy.” Many say they are rarely engaged in deep or rigorous learning activities—and students from disadvantaged backgrounds are even less likely to say they are challenged in class. So it should not be surprising that more than one in four students leaves school before graduating.

Yet in a world where US students must compete not only with their peers from neighboring states, but also from students around the world, it is critical that students are engaged in what they are learning. The authors of the CAP study suggested that students may be doing poorly on tests like the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessment “because they’re not challenged in school.” So a failure to engage students is not only a personal imperative . . . it is an economic necessity.

Student engagement is also an equity and diversity issue. Four conditions that create engaged people as adapted from Glasser’s choice theory are: 1) some component of fun, 2) the ability for the participants to choose and exercise an appropriate amount of personal power, 3) the sense of belonging to something greater than themselves, and 4) a sense that, although not yet able, they have a fighting chance at gaining competence at a given task. Disadvantaged students, students who do not fit the standard mold, students with learning disabilities, and all of those who are perceived and treated as such are much more likely to suffer a lack of all four. To advance equity and inclusion in our nation’s education system demands that we attend to student engagement and the components that foster it.

In order to create a deeper understanding of these issues, the NASBE Student Engagement Study Group will meet on three occasions to discuss different dimensions of student engagement and what state boards can do to further student engagement in their states:

First Meeting: January 24-25, 2014

Second Meeting: March 14-15, 2014

Third Meeting: Methods of Engagement, June 20-21, 2014

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State and federal education policy over the past 20 years has been developed within a standards-based reform framework which has emphasized a systemic approach to education reform. Through a sequence of developmental steps…

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The briefing will unveil the findings and recommendations of the NASBE Study Group committee on technology in schools and communities. The briefing will address how our digital age has affected the learning needs of today’s students, and how state boards of education and policymakers can ensure that their schools are fully prepared to address the impact of rapid technological change on the fundamental processes of teaching and learning.

Audio from the 12.5.2012 Born In Another Time Congressional Briefing:

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  • Jim Kohlmoos, Executive Director, National Association of State Boards of Education
  • Jared Costanzo, Former Washington Student State Board Member
  • Doug Levin, Executive Director, State Educational Technology Directors Association
  • Madhu Sidhu, Maryland State Board of Education Member
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Technology in the 21st century is a foundational tool for the current generation of school-aged children. The innovative technologies, such as smart phones, iPads, and now Leap Pads for younger children, have launched our children into a digital age where they no longer function on a daily basis…

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NASBE Study Calls for Major Changes in Teacher Prep, Retention, and Evaluation Policies

Teachers have lately fallen under the national microscope far more than any other aspect of public schooling. The convergence of sluggish growth in student achievement, high turnover in the ranks of teachers, continuing achievement gaps, and state and federal actions that have zeroed in on the capacity…

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