Friday, January 29, 2016

Federal grants for $10.5M awarded to projects to study early education in rural areas

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced $26 million in grants to create the Early Learning Network that will provide funds for several projects, including some focused on rural education. Ruth C. Neild, delegated director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), said in a statement: "Early Learning Network will study what is happening in early education programs across the country and how successfully children are making the transition from preschool to elementary school. The network will seek to identify what policymakers and practitioners can do to improve early learning programs so students are prepared for long-term success in school."

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was awarded $6.5 million to "study how education policies differ in rural and urban areas for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade to learn how educators can close the achievement gap for at-risk students," Chris Dunker reports for the Lincoln Journal Star. "The project will track children over time to study how changes in the educational environment—including the move to new classrooms and different instructional approaches among teachers—impact the transition through the early elementary years." The study will focus on 10 rural school districts and two urban ones.

Another grant for $4 million was awarded to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study early learning policies and programs in rural North Carolina. Acting Secretary of Education John King said in a statment: "As we increase access to early education, we need high-quality research to show us the most effective ways to prepare children for success in elementary school and beyond. The Early Learning Network will develop important information and tools that will help policymakers and practitioners improve preschool and elementary school teaching and learning across the country."

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