Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Essays offer suggestions to improve rural education

In a set of four essays published in the latest volume of the State Education Agency of the Future, writers offered suggestions for education agencies to provide support for rural schools, Andrew Ujifusa writes for Education Week.

In the first essay, Paul Hill challenges the traditional definition of "rural," arguing that it denotes more than just place. He recommends that rural politics be approached on a personal, case-specific level, focusing on solutions instead of rules. His suggestions for rural education improvement were funding flexibility and "greater incentives for rural districts to share resources and strategies," Ujifusa writes.

Marguerite Roza of Georgetown University writes that policymakers should consider the characteristics of rural schools that offer opportunities, not just the concerns that cause disparities. To help, Roza says state education departments should consider "allocating funds based on students and student characteristics . . . eliminating specifications around service delivery . . . (and) promoting shared services across districts instead of consolidation."

In an essay, "How Productivity Can Boost Productivity in Rural Schools," academics and other experts stress the importance of broadband and Internet access: "Recognize that the state plays a limited but critical supporting role. While many smaller, rural districts appreciate state support, universal mandates are less likely to be responsive to local needs and cane become a political lightning rod."

The fourth essay provides suggestions for states to help rural schools help students with special needs. Tessie Rose Baily of Montana State University and Rebecca Zumeta of the American Institutes for Research suggest providing alternate methods of service delivery (such as teletherapy programs delivered by speech language pathologists or occupational therapists), simplifying the compliance monitoring process and providing a mentoring system for new special education teachers. (Read more)

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