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Education in Rural Communities

The image of rural—what we think of when we hear the word—is often one that includes corn fields, a country store, tractors, and a school that is free from violence and drugs. And while you should certainly continue to conjure up such images, understand that educators in rural communities face many of the same problems as those typically associated with urban communities. Addressing these problems is what is unique for rural communities because their capacity to respond to a constantly changing world is different.

For example, all schools, rural and urban, are required to meet the lofty goals set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. Fulfilling the requirements of NCLB for any school is a challenging task, but for rural schools the challenges can be even greater—the pool of educators is smaller, finding teachers for specialty subjects is more difficult, public school choice options are limited, and subgroups are small. The ability to implement educational reform is often limited by small economies, insufficient and inequitable funding, and districts that encompass large geographies.

Despite many challenges, expanding beyond those associated with NCLB, rural educators are working hard to help their students achieve and succeed. Learning Point Associates has a collection of resources to help rural school and community leaders address a multitude of issues, compiled here for quick reference. Additional resources are also included.

Learning Point Associates Resources

Implementing the No Child Left Behind Act: Implications for Rural Schools and Districts (2003)
This paper includes a discussion of the unique challenges NCLB presents for rural schools and suggests strategies that hold promise for helping rural schools meet federal requirements. http://www.ncrel.org/policy/pubs/html/implicate/

Student Mobility in Rural Communities: What Are the Implications for Student Achievement (2002)
This paper provides readers with a thorough understanding of student mobility—a research review that demonstrates the prevalence of mobility and its effect on students and schools, and highlights federal, state, and local initiatives that have been adopted. http://www.ncrel.org/policy/pubs/html/rmobile/index.html

The Rural Education Dichotomy: Disadvantaged Systems and School Strengths (2001)
This policy paper asserts that the educational advantages of a rural school are most realized at the school and classroom level, but this same rurality creates problems at the school district or system level. http://www.ncrel.org/policy/pubs/html/dichot.htm

Pulling Together: R&D; Resources for Rural Schools
The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's Pulling Together Web site is a collection of research and development resources for educators who work in rural settings. The resources include Web sites, publications, training programs, model programs, and services. http://www.ncrel.org/rural/dochome.htm

The Rural Circumstance (Updated 2003)
The Rural Circumstance, a Web-based document that speaks to the educational challenges of rural America, has been updated and is available on the Pulling Together: R&D; Resources for Rural Schools Web site. Graphs and statistics have all been made current, and the text now includes information on NCLB, as well as other significant conditions in rural education. http://www.ncrel.org/rural/PullingTogether.pdf

NCREL's Rural Advisory Council
NCREL's Rural Advisory Council (RAC) is composed of individuals with an interest in and commitment to rural school excellence. RAC members, drawn from across the region and representing a wide variety of organizations and responsibilities, provide NCREL with advice and guidance about what rural schools and communities need. http://www.ncrel.org/policy/network/rac.htm

Preparing Technology-Competent Teachers for Urban and Rural Classrooms: A Teacher Education Challenge (2002)
This study examines six teacher preparation institutions set in urban or rural settings. It reviews how these institutions are organizing to prepare new teachers for working in urban and rural environments and whether they are using technology as a tool for improvement. http://www.ncrel.org/tech/challenge/

Additional Resources

National Rural Education Association
The National Rural Education Association is an organization of rural school administrators, teachers, board members, regional service agency personnel, researchers, business and industry representatives and others interested in maintaining the vitality of rural school systems across the country. http://www.nrea.net/

The Rural School and Community Trust
The Rural School and Community Trust is a national nonprofit organization rooted in rural America. Our mission is to help rural schools and communities get better together. http://www.ruraledu.org/index.html

How Are Rural School Districts Meeting the Teacher Quality Requirements of No Child Left Behind (2003)
Outlined in this paper are the results of a nationwide online survey of more than 3,000 rural school superintendents conducted by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the Appalachia Educational Laboratory (AEL). The study sought to gain information about how rural school districts are meeting the teacher quality requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. http://www.aasa.org/government_relations/rural/Rural_Teacher_Quality_Study.pdf

AEL
A partnership between the Appalachia Educational Laboratory (AEL) and the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools provides a wealth of rural-related research, publications, and directories. http://www.ael.org/page.htm?&index;=752&pd;=1&pv;=x

Organizations Concerned About Rural Education
Organizations Concerned About Rural Education is a coalition of more than two dozen education, farm, rural, technology, and utility organizations. http://www.ruralschools.org/

Navigating Resources for Rural Schools
This Web site provides access to recent data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and additional resources available through selected contractors and grantees of the U.S. Department of Education. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ruraled/

 


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