Promoting Learning in Rural Schools

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Article abstract: The research reviewed in this report suggests that some of the contentions about schools, districts, and
communities in rural areas are mistaken. Many of the issues they face also confront urban and suburban educators, and rural
communities offer several distinctive educational advantages. A lack of student motivation to learn is a problem often cited by rural educators. This problem seems to be a widespread problem in most of the nation's schools--rural, urban, and suburban. This report gives special attention to student motivation to learn, along with other contributing factors to student outcomes in rural schools. Rural educators often attest to a dampening effect on student aspirations where families do not see education as an essential vehicle to advancement in life, and the improved life chances an education provides require a relocation away from a shrinking rural community. When the remoteness of a rural community is a barrier in attracting and retaining school leaders and teachers, the school's internal systems for ensuring consistent application of effective practice is paramount. The policies, programs, procedures, and practices must be ingrained in the daily operations of the school in ways that optimize the productivity of current staff and readily assimilate new staff. With this in mind, this report recommends actions that drive student learning in any school setting and are necessary and achievable in rural schools. The recommendations in this report build upon the advantages of rural settings and address their perceived disadvantages.
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