Preparing teachers to 2013-08-02آ  Preparing teachers to teach in rural schools July 2008 Prepared by

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  • I S S U E S & A N S W E R S

    U . S . D e p a r t m e n t o f E d u c a t i o n

    Preparing teachers to teach in rural schools

    R E L 2 0 0 8 – N o . 0 4 5

    At Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

  • Preparing teachers to teach in rural schools

    July 2008

    Prepared by

    Zoe A. Barley, PhD Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

    Nancy Brigham Nancy Brigham Associates

    I S S U E S&ANSWERS R E L 2 0 0 8 – N o . 0 4 5

    U . S . D e p a r t m e n t o f E d u c a t i o n

    At Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

  • Issues & Answers is an ongoing series of reports from short-term Fast Response Projects conducted by the regional educa- tional laboratories on current education issues of importance at local, state, and regional levels. Fast Response Project topics change to reflect new issues, as identified through lab outreach and requests for assistance from policymakers and educa- tors at state and local levels and from communities, businesses, parents, families, and youth. All Issues & Answers reports meet Institute of Education Sciences standards for scientifically valid research.

    July 2008

    This report was prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) under Contract ED-06-CO-0023 by Regional Educa- tional Laboratory Central administered by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. The content of the publica- tion does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

    This report is in the public domain. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, it should be cited as:

    Barley, Z. A., and Brigham, N. (2008). Preparing teachers to teach in rural schools (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2008–No. 045). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evalu- ation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Central. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.

    This report is available on the regional educational laboratory web site at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.

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    At Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

  • iii

    Summary REL 2008–No. 045

    The Central Region states have greater percentages of rural students and schools than the U.S. average. This report describes how nine teacher preparation programs in the region prepare their graduates for teaching positions in rural settings.

    Rural schools face difficulties recruiting and retaining a qualified teacher workforce. Po- tential contributing factors include social and collegial isolation, low salaries, multiple grade or subject teaching assignments, and lack of familiarity with rural schools and communi- ties. Together, these challenges can discourage teachers from accepting rural positions or cause them to leave rural settings after teach- ing there for only a short time.

    While the shortage of qualified teachers in rural areas is not a new phenomenon, the pas- sage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought an added sense of urgency. Teachers not qualified in each content area they teach are now required to seek the necessary creden- tials if they are to continue teaching in those content areas. And in many rural areas it is difficult to find the coursework to meet the No Child Left Behind Act’s “highly qualified teacher” requirement.

    The Central Region has greater percentages of rural students and schools than the U.S.

    average, so it is critical to determine how teacher preparation programs in the region are preparing their graduates for positions in rural settings—and whether these pro- grams offer other ways to alleviate the teacher shortages in rural areas, such as convenient access to their programs for prospective teachers living (and possibly working) in rural communities.

    This project addresses the following research question:

    What do rural teacher preparation pro-• grams in the Central Region do to prepare teachers for teaching in rural settings?

    Based on a review of related articles, the Cen- tral Regional Educational Laboratory identi- fied five promising program components to prepare teachers for teaching in rural settings: providing options for prospective teachers to become certified in multiple certification areas, promoting access to teacher prepara- tion and professional development through distance learning opportunities and courses in rural communities, focusing on recruiting to teaching individuals who already reside in rural areas, offering practice-teaching oppor- tunities in rural communities, and offering courses for prospective teachers focused on is- sues related to teaching in rural communities.

    Preparing teachers to teach in rural schools

  • iv Summary

    The researchers then identified nine educational institutions that used at least three of the five approaches thought to foster recruitment and retention of teachers in rural areas. The re- searchers conducted in-depth interviews with teacher educators at each of these institutions to provide detailed descriptions of how the nine institutions implemented the five approaches. From open-ended probing during these inter- views three main strategies emerged: using technology for professional development, forg- ing partnerships between universities that cre- dential teachers and rural community colleges, and individualizing programs to meet a pro- spective teacher’s specific needs for certification.

    The following are the main findings of the study:

    Of 120 institutions in the Central Region • that offer teacher preparation, only 17 con- firmed a rural program emphasis, and only 9 have three or more of the components.

    Three of the nine programs offer op-• tions for teachers to receive multiple certifications.

    Seven of the nine programs offer online • courses and four offer courses at more accessible community college campuses. Four of the nine programs recruit students from rural communities.

    Two of the nine programs actively seek • student teaching placements in rural schools (however, seven of the nine are based in rural areas and naturally have access to rural school placements).

    Rural schools in the Central Region face critical teacher shortages in three content areas: math and science, English as a second language, and special education. In math and science two of the nine universities offered programs that encouraged prospective rural teachers to pursue degrees with this focus. For English as a second language three universities offered programs with a rural focus. Finally, in special education three universities and a tribal college offer programs designed to pre- pare teachers for rural positions.

    July 2008

  • v

    Table of conTenTs

    Why this study? 1

    Ensuring a highly qualified rural faculty 2 Teaching in rural schools 2 Recruiting teachers for rural schools 3

    Preparing to teach in rural schools 3

    Program components in the Central Region 4 Options for obtaining multiple-subject certification 4 Access to teacher preparation for prospective rural teachers 6 Recruitment of prospective teachers in rural areas 7 Practice-teaching placement in rural schools 8 Courses focused on rural issues 9 Areas of critical teacher shortages 9

    Appendix A Research method, sample, and limitations 13

    Appendix B Interview protocol 19

    Notes 20

    References 21

    Box 1 Study methods and limitations 5

    Tables

    A1 Areas of emphasis in teacher preparation and their role in the rural education environment 14

    A2 Policy options for school districts or teacher preparation programs 14

    A3 Defining program components from the literature to help rural schools retain highly qualified teachers 15

    A4 Confirmation of rural component by institution 16

    A5 Confirmed rural teacher preparation component, by institution and locale 17

  • Why thiS Study? 1

    The central Region states have greater percentages of rural students and schools than the U.s. average. This report describes how nine teacher preparation programs in the region prepare their graduates for teaching positions in rural settings.

    Why This sTUdy?

    The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 intends for every public school child in the United States to achieve proficiency in math and reading by the end of the 2013/14 school year. In- cluded among its provisions is the requirement that all teachers be “highly qualified” to teach in each subject area taught. Highly qualified under the No Child Left Behind Act means that a teacher has a bachelor’s degree, has full state certification or licensure, and can demonstrate

    a thorough understanding of every content area taught (through an undergraduate or graduate major or equivalent or by passing a state test on the subject or some o