Friday, July 16, 2010

Intelligence isn't Geography Based when it comes to Education!

While most of us focus on ACT or SAT scores, student-teacher ratio and rigorous curriculum to increase student success, it may be the commitment to excellence that determines student achievement in rural schools. This is an overlooked, yet critical, factor when considering probably 40-45% of Georgia school districts are in rural areas.


Surprisingly, the top factors that did impact student achievement in urban high schools, ACT scores and dropout rates, did not determine student success in rural schools. Community involvement and the school's commitment to student excellence were the determining factors in whether a rural school was high- or low-achieving.

"In small-town Georgia, the school and the community are dependent upon each other for success. In rural areas, schools tend to be the center of the community, acting as a gathering place and often social services. In larger towns, students have access to resources and support outside of their schools.


High-achieving schools had educators that most likely embraced the role of being a rural teacher, which typically means wearing many hats and being creative with necessary resources.


Other factors included parents and community members who support the teachers, or if necessary, the school enacted programs to increase support. Another key factor was high-achieving schools gave students many opportunities to connect their learning to the well-being of the community, reinforcing the school-community bond.

While affected by the same variables, low-achieving schools felt that being a rural school was a handicap for student achievement and the lack of resources was a burden to school administration and the community. This attitude reflected in the educational approach of the school and in the student's probability to go to college.

I always wondered why rural school systems like Schley County School System achieve & perform at a high level, while Talbot County School System Perform at a low level. In Schley Co., the parents & the community ar heavily involved in their schools & to make sure that their children is getting the best education it can, as well as performing at a high level & having courses that's challenging their children to prepare them for the rigors of college. In Talbot, well the times I've been up there on school days, you see students walking the streets, some have dropped out, even some of the parents have taken their child to nearby Harris County or even Taylor County High so their child can get a better education. Same goes here in Macon County.

For rural schools, preparation programs need to provide specialized training for those who will serve in this setting. Policymakers up in Atlanta need to acknowledge that rural schools have particular strengths and weaknesses. Finally, reform programs aimed at improving rural schools need to be tailored to meet their unique needs. Schools can save communities. The success of one can determine the success or failure of the other.

We can't assume that student success in all schools, large and small, is impacted by the same issues, so the question becomes how do we help schools in their environment become successful? Whoever becomes our next governor & State School Superintendent will have to answer that question

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