Education Dive writes about the announcement of the National Center on Rural Education Research Networks.
Many rural districts — and school leaders in rural areas — are finding that they can accomplish more by partnering with neighboring districts and participating in networks in which they share curriculum resources, professional development and other areas of expertise.
The California Rural Education Network, for example, provides members with information and professional development materials targeted specifically to schools in rural areas. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also shifted its education funding priorities to focus on how schools can improve outcomes for students, particularly at the secondary level, by participating in networks.
"Because of their small size, rural school districts have too often been ignored by researchers and policy analysts," Thomas J. Kane, who directs Harvard's Center for Education Policy Research, said in a news release. "Yet more than 20% of students in the United States—nearly 10 million children—attend rural schools." He added that the new center "will be working with rural educators to learn what’s working and what’s not in their own setting. We hope to gain important insights into the challenges rural schools are facing and to build the capacity of rural schools to use their own data for improvement."