Friday, June 25, 2010

Education & Development in Rural Georgia

Here in Georgia, Rural, low-income students are more at risk of becoming high school dropouts than their city and suburban counterparts. This fact alone should be a reason to address the challenges facing Rural Georgia Schools that serve low-income areas, but the negative findings do not stop with that one statistic. Students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches do not score as well on assessments as other students, and students attending rural schools do not perform as well as students who attend suburban schools. Rural schools, especially those serving low-income areas, need the nation’s attention, but currently they are not receiving the attention they deserve. Not all Rural Georgia Schools underperform, but the majority of them do.

A comprehensive approach to school reform that adds time to school days, weeks, and/or years for all students can result in significant learning gains.

Rural Georgia schools in low-income areas are usually resource poor because of weak tax bases and because of state education funding formulas that treat rural areas inequitably. Rural schools also face additional challenges related to the availability of high quality instructional staff, access to professional development opportunities, expertise in fund development, and parental engagement. The upshot: Increasing the number of hours in the school day and/or the number of weeks in the school year is not currently feasible in rural areas without significant new investments by state and/or federal governments, no matter how desirable.

Voluntary Programs like:

Strong, committed leadership and quality instructional staff

Adult-to-student ratios at levels that are low enough to make realistic the development of supportive staff/student relationships

Emphasis on making learning engaging and exciting by providing academic- based enrichment activities while assisting students in meeting achievement standards.

All of these learning opportunities provide a means of reaching students that regular during school time programs are not effectively serving and could be the basis for programs that lengthen the school day, week, or year for all students.

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