Local school districts part of nationwide initiative

BROADALBIN — Two local school districts will take part in the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks initiative conducted by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University and funded through a $10 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.

Broadalbin-Perth Central School District and Wells Central School District are two of 60 schools in New York and Ohio selected to participate in initiative in which they will have the opportunity to apply the Proving Ground model of evidence-based improvement to address the challenges of chronic absenteeism, college readiness and college enrollment.

“Students who are chronically absent are at risk for falling behind and ultimately dropping out,” said B-P Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson. “As part of our work with the [NCRERN] we hope not only to learn from other rural districts, but also to share with them ideas for promising evidence-based practices that will help students feel welcome, successful and supported.”

According to the release, NCRERN will produce tools for identifying students most at risk and being unprepared for college, as well as change management resources designed to guide rural schools in addressing chronic absenteeism, college readiness and college enrollment. Throughout the five years, the center’s member districts will collaborate on shared challenges, learning from each other to guide future work on school improvement.

“Students who are chronically absent are at-risk for lacking the necessary skills and ultimately failing,” said Wells Superintendent Thomas Sincavage. “By being a part of the [NCRERN] our district anticipates learning from, and collaborating with, other rural districts in New York and Ohio. We are hoping to share ideas from evidence based research that will help students from Wells Central School meet their full potential.”

Thomas J. Kane, who is a Walter H. Gale Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of CEPR said in a prepared statement in a press release, that more than 20 percent of students in the United States attend rural schools, but because of their small size, rural school districts are often ignored by researchers and policy analysts.

“Through the [NCRERN] we will be working with rural educators to learn what’s working and what’s not in their own setting,” Kane said. “We hope to gain important insights into the challenges rural schools are facing and to build capacity of rural schools to use their own date for improvement.”

NCRERN will establish and support a network of 60 rural school districts in New York and Ohio. Both states are home to sizable rural populations. NCRERN will collaborate with the network to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions addressing chronic absenteeism, college readiness, and college enrollment. In its second phase, the center will work with additional states to test whether the interventions that worked in New York and Ohio benefit rural schools elsewhere.

The other school districts joining NCRERN in New York include:

Andover Central School District; Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District; Canastota Central School District; Cato-Meridian Central School District; Crown Point Central School; Fallsburg Central School District; Fredonia Central School District; Gouverneur Central School District; Gowanda Central School District; Greenville Central School District; Hammondsport Central School; Harpursville Central School District; LaFayette Central School District; Lyndonville Central School District; Mexico Central School District; Monticello Central School District; Pulaski Academy and Central School District; Randolph Central School District; Salmon River Central School District; Sandy Creek Central School District; Sharon Springs Central School District; Sherman Central School District; Susquehanna Valley Central School District; Taconic Hills Central School District; Thousand Islands Central School District; Unadilla Valley Central School District; Webutuck Central School District and Windsor Central School District.

By Kerry Minor

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