The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released a report outlining specific recommendations to improve public education in rural communities in the South. The recommendations in Transforming the Rural South: A Roadmap to Improving Rural Education are based on research, best practices, and voices from rural communities across Tennessee and throughout the Southeast. The report, released jointly with the Ayers Foundation, Niswonger Foundation, Rural School and Community Trust, and the Tennessee School Boards Association, follows the Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit, which was held in Nashville on July 19-20, 2011.
“In Tennessee and across the South, the success and economic vibrancy of our rural communities are critically tied to quality public education,” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “The priorities and action items detailed in this report serve to highlight not only what must happen inside the classroom and the school house, but also what needs to happen in the community to improve rural education.”
The report outlines six priorities, with action items for each priority. The priorities include:
- Highlighting the connection between education and economic development
- Offering schools and districts more flexibility
- Forming a pipeline of effective teachers
- Using technology to meet instructional needs
- Creating professional learning communities for administrators
- Forming partnerships to enhance educational opportunities
The 34 action items in the report are targeted specifically to various education stakeholders. For example, school districts are encouraged to partner with nearby districts to recruit and retain highly effective teaching candidates who can serve as content specialists in critical subjects like reading and math across district lines. Local elected officials should make investing in public education the top priority to improve local economic development. The postsecondary community should enhance its teacher preparation programs to expose candidates to actual teaching settings in rural communities as a dual strategy to improve teacher effectiveness and recruitment to rural schools. Most importantly, business and community leaders should continue to stress the individual and community importance of obtaining a high school diploma and pursuing postsecondary training and education.
“Rural communities face unique challenges in improving public education,” said Linda Irwin, Director of School Partnerships at the Niswonger Foundation. “This plan of action serves as a guiding document to give all stakeholders, from parents to school districts, a clear roadmap that is tailored to the unique rural environment.”
The full report can be viewed here: http://www.tnscore.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/SCORE-Rural-Education-Roadmap.pdf