The Harvard Gazette covers how Proving Ground's work was the basis for the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks.
Harvard researchers were pleased when a pilot program, done in collaboration with school officials in Syracuse, reduced student absenteeism in early grades by 15 percent. Now the researchers are looking to help rural schools devise their own answers to serious problems, aided by the kind of methods and tools used in Syracuse, ones not typically available to smaller communities.
Harvard researchers who are taking part in the newly created National Center for Rural Education Research Networks (NCRERN) will team up with 50 rural school districts, 30 in New York and another 20 in Ohio, in an effort to reduce chronic absenteeism and improve college readiness.
It’s an important mission, said Thomas Kane, the Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and Economics at the Graduate School of Education who leads the center, along with Douglas Staiger of Dartmouth College and Christopher Avery of Harvard Kennedy School. Due to their small sizes, rural school districts have often been overlooked, said Kane, despite the fact that 20 percent of elementary and high school students across the country attend them. Rural students often face greater challenges than those in urban schools, ranging from lack of resources to teacher shortages to limited early education programs.