Federal funding for schools is often very competitive. While rural schools face the same problems as urban schools, they often see fewer opportunities for support.
Leveling the Playing Field in Grant Funding
Specific programs, such as the Rural Education Achievement Program, create more opportunities for rural schools to participate in school improvement programs. By using this money to improve teacher retention, assist with professional development, help teachers earn an online master’s degree in education, or fund a parental involvement program, rural schools can improve their student outcomes.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
If higher student achievement is the goal, understanding the link between effective teachers and school improvement is very important. According to federal guidelines, administrators can use federal dollars to create professional incentives for teacher recruitment and retention. By recruiting strong teachers and working hard to retain them, rural schools can improve overall student performance.
According to Stephen Sawchuk in Education Week, studies have shown that teacher turnover has a negative effect on student testing scores at both large and small schools, old and new. For rural schools, retaining teachers may be especially challenging, which makes it an important issue for administrators to consider when planning overall school success. Programs like the Rural Education Achievement Program offer qualifying schools a chance to draw talented professionals to areas with a smaller talent pool than larger urban areas.
Professional Development for Teachers
In order to maintain a professional license in many states, teachers must complete a certain amount of professional development at standard intervals. For some, this means taking part in conferences and learning through workshops. For others, it means pursuing an online master’s degree in education while still teaching full time. Assisting teachers with meaningful professional development is an important part of school improvement; this directly relates to teacher retention. Teachers who feel that they can grow professionally in their environment are more likely to stay in that environment.
For rural schools, using federal money through the Rural Education Achievement Program to offer professional development for teachers may be a way to improve retention without direct salary incentives. While these incentives are nice, enhanced professional development offers teachers better opportunities to fulfill their developmental requirements.
When parents are engaged in their children’s learning and work to help them succeed, students perform better. Family support can work wonders for the overall learning environment, and federal grant money can help schools meet their goals in this area. However, developing the learning environment needs careful consideration; its design should consider parental engagement to create lasting student achievement. This kind of development can be as simple as using federal money to buy materials for classrooms that parent volunteers use, or it can be more involved, such as using this money to staff auxiliary programs that promote parental involvement.
Student achievement is vital to overall school improvement. While major urban areas with large student populations often look like better investments, rural schools with smaller populations are just as important. Federal programs that offer benefits specifically to rural schools help balance the funding system, offering help in forgotten areas of the country.
Promoting parental involvement in the school system is one option for creating an improvement program. Other improvement options include teacher recruitment systems and teacher retention incentives. Promoting teacher development has a positive effect on student achievement, and offering support for an online master’s degree in education can be incentive enough for great young teachers to stay and help develop a school.
Learn more about the Columbus State online M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership program.
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