Friday, December 19, 2008

Ala. studying good rural schools to see what works

Rural schools in Alabama generally score lower on achievement tests, and are more likely to have dropouts, but a few, such as J.S. Ervin Elementary, where Jakiyah Bridges studies (photo by Micky Welsh), do much better. School officials are taking a close look at those schools to see if their sucess can be replicated elsewhere, with the help of the Center for Rural Alabama, an agency in the state Department of Agriculture.

"Rural Alabama is headed down a long, desolate road when it comes to turning out a well-trained work force," Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks said when he announced the study. "We knew that there were some schools doing a tremendous job under difficult circumstances, so we wanted to find them -- and learn from them."

Ervin Elementary boosted its reading scores above the statewide average with "reading tutors, dedicated teachers, structure, new programs -- and enough money to make more of a difference," reports Kym Klass of the Montgomery Advertiser. "Ervin has its challenges. For example, it can't afford more teachers so it relies heavily on parents to monitor and help with their children's education." (Read more)

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