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Improvement Efforts in Rural Schools: Experiences of Nine Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues in International Education, Vol. 90, No. 2

Linda Rosenberg, Megan Davis Christianson, & Megan Hague, Mathematica Policy Research

ABSTRACT

Low-performing schools in rural settings can face challenges common to all struggling schools, such as low student motivation and maintaining a qualified teaching staff. However, aspects of rural schools’ settings, such as the distance from urban areas and the commute between the schools and the students’ and teachers’ homes, can exacerbate the challenges that rural schools face. This article focuses on the experiences of nine rural schools that were part of a study for the U.S. Department of Education on the school improvement process in a purposive sample of 35 schools receiving federal funds through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. In particular, it examines how respondents in the rural schools perceived that the schools’ rural setting influenced the schools’ challenges and improvement actions and presents findings on the recruitment and retention of teaching staff, an activity integral to school improvement efforts under SIG.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Linda Rosenberg is a senior researcher in Mathematica's Human Services Research Division. She has more than 20 years of experience conducting qualitative research of programs in a range of policy areas, including education, labor, and welfare. She is Mathematica's project director for the U.S. Department of Education's Study of School Turnaround. Rosenberg holds an M.P.A. in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Megan Davis Christianson is a senior program analyst for Mathematica's Data Management and Analytics group and has 15 years of experience conducting qualitative research in education. For the Study of School Turnaround, she led site visits and analyzed interview responses and other content. Christianson earned a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Megan Hague Angus is a research analyst in Mathematica's Human Services Research Division. She has more than 13 years of experience conducting qualitative research for federal clients, including the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor. For the Study of School Turnaround, she led site visits, coded and analyzed qualitative data, and contributed to interim and final deliverables. She holds an M.A. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.