Rural success stories
- AZ: Students tracking their own data make gains
Verrado Middle School, located in Litchfield Elementary School District, Buckeye, Arizona, has breathed new life into the interpretation and use of student test data by including students as important end users of the results.
- TN: Technology motivates students to learn in new ways
Summary: This partly urban, partly rural Tennessee school district uses technology in a strategic and focused manner to enhance student learning. Professional development is the key that helps teachers use technology effectively in the classroom and in lesson planning. Online assessments provide students with immediate feedback to help help them master skills quickly and effectively. Whether its virtual classes to meet a student's particular needs, online courses for credit recovery, technology to help English Language Learners catch up to their peers, or data-driven learning plans, it's clear that this district's 7,300 students reap the benefit of innovative learning technology.
- MO: Pre-kindergarten advantage sets stage for student success
Summary: A tiny rural Missouri district with an enrollment that's one-third economically disadvantaged uses home visits by a pre-kindergarten teacher, biweekly pre-kindergarten playgroups, community volunteers, a focus on language arts, and innovative approaches to professional development and instruction to graduate all of its students from high school on time and send almost three-quarters of them on to college.
- AK: Community Connects with Kodiak High School
Summary: This remote district builds and maintains local community partnerships and uses a proven school improvement plan (overseen by the Association of Alaska School Boards) to help drive student success. One element of the plan focuses on developmental assets that help students become not only successful academically, but responsible adults as well. Improved student performance has earned one school in the district a Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Department of Education. This is "proof," school leaders say, "that Kodiak's comunity engagements efforts have taken hold."
- WY: One small school making big dreams come true
Summary: This public online high school has taken students' dreams of graduating and turned them into reality. The school, run by a Native American school district, was born out of necessity—unreasonable distances to school, highly inconsistent attendance, and a sixty to seventy percent drop-out rate. The school, accredited and embraced by the state board of education and the Wyoming Department of Education, offers expanded curriculum with subjects not normally available in Wyoming high schools (with science curriculum such as oceanography). The result? Students' mastery of core subjects and their standardized test scores are on the rise, students are staying in school, and they're graduating.
- CA: A culture of collaboration spurs academic growth in low-income school district
Summary: Eighty-eight percent of this school district's students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and seventy percent are classified as English language learners. Given this background staff and administrators thought they "weren't doing so badly," but test results showed something different. In 1999, the district had some of the lowest achieving scores in the county and the state. Changing the school culture to one of collaboration with an unwavering focus on excellence has helped the school grow from one with dismal performance to one with distinguished growth. By 2005, the district was recognized for its outstanding academic progress.
- WA: From battle ground to common ground
Summary: Bringing in a new approach to communication this superintendent turned her district from one of divergent priorities, lack of trust, teacher dissatisfaction, low student achievement, and dismal community support to one of improved parent satisfaction, low teacher turnover, raising achievement scores, and declining need for disciplinary actions.
- AK: Reinventing education Alaska-style
Summary: What can be done for a district suffering from low test scores, high drop-out rates, annual staff turnover exceeding fifty percent, and business' complaints about students lack of skills? Go straight to the school board and community for help. Although pioneering a grass-roots educational reform took time, patience, and hard work, this district now sees success—the dropout rates have decreased, students consistently test above state level averages in reading, writing, and math, and more graduates see college as an option. Read this story to learn how the Chugach Quality Schools Model helped turn this district around and how it is helping other districts do the same thing.
- NC: Smaller classes benefit Burke County students
Summary: Reducing class size has helped this school district stay on track, even when its student demographic changed with more students speaking English as a second language and more students qualifying for free- and reduced-priced lunch. How did the district do it? By involving the school board and community right from the start. Read this story to see how everyone worked together on a feasibility study, finding funding, and securing extra classroom space, while at the same time helping to increase student test scores.
- MD: Kitchen table conversations in Caroline County
Summary: In 2003 Caroline County became known for enthusiastic community engagement on public schools after what was billed as a “kitchen table” conversation just about burst the school cafeteria. Nearly 100 local residents came, eager to talk about what they valued and wanted in their schools.
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