Posters


Connect-Inform-Advance participants presented 18 posters that addressed the influences of teachers, communities, families, schools and context on the academic success of rural K-12 students. A summary of each poster can be found below.

Since the conclusion of Connect-Inform-Advance, the National Center for Research on Rural Education has conducted a qualitative analysis of the conference's roundtables that has identified several primary themes of discussion. Click here to view a poster outlining the methods and results of this analysis.


Jane Arrington

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Perceptions of Preservice Teachers in Appalachia

As the majority white, middle class teaching cadre continues to work with an increasingly diverse population of K-12 students and the achievement gap continues to widen, education research is expected to attend to the diversity in classrooms. This comparative case study investigated the ways in which preservice teachers who come from backgrounds of poverty negotiate (or fail to negotiate) the demands of culturally responsive pedagogy. A series of three interviews was conducted with each participant (an individual, introductory interview;, a group interview;, and final, individual exit interview). Results suggest that the participants' time at college has had a significant impact on their understandings of diversity. Preservice teachers can point to specific instances in their backgrounds which have influenced both their decision to become a teacher and how they view those different from them. This finding holds with a constructivist stance that each individual is influenced by and is an influence on various cultures. Participants also reported feeling "saturated" with diversity "talk." While participants' thoughts and talk are consciously and reflectively laced with culturally responsive dialogue when they talk about racial/ethnic, intellectual, socioeconomic, and religious diversity, struggles remain. Studies such as this one, which assumes both constructivist and culturally responsive stances, focus attention on the cultural experiences, expectations, and limitations that teachers might bring to classrooms.

Renee Chandler

Mismatch in Rural America: Middle Class Teachers, High-Poverty Schools

As the majority white, middle class teaching cadre continues to work with an increasingly diverse population of K-12 students and the achievement gap continues to widen, education research is expected to attend to the diversity in classrooms. This comparative case study investigated the ways in which preservice teachers who come from backgrounds of poverty negotiate (or fail to negotiate) the demands of culturally responsive pedagogy. A series of three interviews was conducted with each participant (an individual, introductory interview;, a group interview;, and final, individual exit interview). Results suggest that the participants' time at college has had a significant impact on their understandings of diversity. Preservice teachers can point to specific instances in their backgrounds which have influenced both their decision to become a teacher and how they view those different from them. This finding holds with a constructivist stance that each individual is influenced by and is an influence on various cultures. Participants also reported feeling "saturated" with diversity "talk." While participants' thoughts and talk are consciously and reflectively laced with culturally responsive dialogue when they talk about racial/ethnic, intellectual, socioeconomic, and religious diversity, struggles remain. Studies such as this one, which assumes both constructivist and culturally responsive stances, focus attention on the cultural experiences, expectations, and limitations that teachers might bring to classrooms.

Peggy Clements, Jessica Heppen & Kirk Walters

Increasing Rural Eighth Graders' Access to Algebra I Using Online Learning

The poster will present the findings from a randomized controlled trial designed to inform the decisions of policymakers who are considering using online courses to expand rural eighth graders' access to Algebra I. The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands conducted the study for the U.S. Department of Education. Sixty-eight mostly rural schools in Vermont and Maine participated in the study. The study focused on students judged by their schools to be ready to take Algebra I in eighth grade but who attended mostly rural schools that did not offer the course. The study tested the impact of offering an online Algebra I course on students' algebra achievement at the end of grade 8 and their subsequent likelihood of participating in an advanced mathematics course sequence in high school. The study found that using an online course to offer Algebra I to algebra-ready eighth-grade students is an effective way to broaden access in rural middle grades schools that do not typically offer Algebra I. Taking this course significantly affected students' algebra achievement at the end of grade 8 and increased their likelihood of participating in an advanced course-taking sequence in high school.

Elizabeth Cutrer, Denise Ricks & Lynne Vernon-Feagan

Building Teacher Expertise in Rural Schools through Webcam Coaching

The poster will present the findings from a randomized controlled trial designed to inform the decisions of policymakers who are considering using online courses to expand rural eighth graders' access to Algebra I. The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands conducted the study for the U.S. Department of Education. Sixty-eight mostly rural schools in Vermont and Maine participated in the study. The study focused on students judged by their schools to be ready to take Algebra I in eighth grade but who attended mostly rural schools that did not offer the course. The study tested the impact of offering an online Algebra I course on students' algebra achievement at the end of grade 8 and their subsequent likelihood of participating in an advanced mathematics course sequence in high school. The study found that using an online course to offer Algebra I to algebra-ready eighth-grade students is an effective way to broaden access in rural middle grades schools that do not typically offer Algebra I. Taking this course significantly affected students' algebra achievement at the end of grade 8 and increased their likelihood of participating in an advanced course-taking sequence in high school.

Lynn Darling

The Challenges of Access to High Quality Early Learning Experiences in Rural Communities

The effects of early learning experiences have been well documented through a number of longitudinal research studies. High quality child care and preschool environments have a positive impact on students' social, emotional, and academic success. Conversely, low quality programs have either no effect or a detrimental effect on student outcomes. In rural communities, availability and access to high quality care are particularly challenging. Contributing factors include lack of transportation, an undereducated workforce, and limited resources. The Early Childhood Institute has several projects across the state designed to improve the quality of early learning experiences through teacher education and our Quality Rating and Improvement System, and a number of programs statewide provide resources and technical support.

Allison Fahsl, Georgia Bracey, Gary Mayer & Stephen Marlette

Supporting the Integration of Engineering Design in K-12 Rural Schools

This presentation will describe a grant-funded rural engineering education initiative. This project was a partnership among five Midwestern rural school districts, a local university, and a regional office of education. The project activities were designed to promote and support the integration of engineering design and technology-related concepts into the rural classrooms associated with the partnership. Specifically, the project goals included: 1) increasing rural K-12 teachers' understanding of engineering design and technology concepts, 2) vertical integration of engineering design and technology in the curriculum across K-12 grade levels, and 3) increasing teacher support, collaboration, and collegiality related to science instruction. The two-year project included a professional development sequence for rural educators that consisted of a summer institute and fall follow-up activities. The summer institute focused on increasing teacher content knowledge through hands-on activities that were completed within professional learning communities formed for each district. The fall activities supported teachers as they integrated engineering and technology-related concepts into their classrooms. Professional learning communities were maintained as teachers collaboratively developed lessons and studied their effectiveness using components of Japanese Lesson Study. Findings from year one and preliminary findings from year two will be presented.

Michelle Hodsdon, Jennifer Murdock & Robyn Hess

Tracing the Path of First-Generation Students from Rural Areas to University

Narrative inquiry was used to trace the educational journeys of 11 first-generation university students from rural areas of Colorado in an effort to identify the experiences, beliefs, and people that impacted their decision to attend a 4-year institution. Students were asked to convey their experiences growing up within the contexts of their family, social circle, schools, and rural community, identifying seminal experiences and people. Although each path was unique, several common themes emerged across narratives. The importance of self-determination, parent encouragement, a social circle that shared the value of education, and the common goal of college attainment were noted. Pre-collegiate programs and the development of a high school mentor were deemed pivotal by participants in navigating the college admission process. Participants also noted a sense of connectedness in their rural communities that they sought to replace in their college community by selecting a smaller college with an atmosphere of approachability and friendliness. In tracing the path of these rural first-generation students, this study offered up elements that could be used to forge a path to college for future first-generation students frorm rural areas.

James Houston, Melissa Olson, Peg Coover, Sandy Kendall, Bruce Hayden Jr., Gwen Nugent, Gina Kunz & Jon Pedersen

Impact of Guided Science Inquiry Professional Development on Rural Science Teachers

Researchers from the National Center for Research on Rural Education conducted a two-week summer professional development institute for 47 middle and high school science teachers from Nebraska and Iowa as part of a large-scale, randomized controlled trial. Professional development focused on instructional strategies in a guided science inquiry approach to support teachers' classroom instruction for inquiry as both content and a process. This professional development meets a pressing need for rural teachers to have the supports necessary to meet requirements of state standards in science with inquiry as a content area for students. Pre- and post- data showed that this process was effective at significantly improving rural teachers' knowledge of, attitudes toward, and confidence in teaching science inquiry. Teachers are currently implementing science inquiry lessons into their classrooms while receiving science coaching via distance technology. Coaching is part of the ongoing support for teacher participants in effectively translating strategies learned in the summer institute with the students in their classrooms. Teachers continue to provide anecdotal data to further support the positive impacts of the summer professional development and the coaching on teachers and students.

Jim La Prad & Tamara La Prad

The Coalition of Essential Schools and Rural Educational Reform

The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) has existed for more than twenty-five years and includes hundreds of public schools that are diverse in size, population, and programmatic emphasis. A case study approach is utilized to describe the impact of this school reform model on rural (non-urban/suburban) high schools. An argument is made that the CES educational reform model is both a viable and underutilized reform model for rural school districts, and that it has great potential to assist in rural educational reform. Case study analysis is conducted on three rural or non-urban/suburban CES high schools. Case construction focused on school mission statements, organization, and associated curricular programing. Data came from school- related documents and interviews and focus groups. Case study analysis identifies four prevalent reform themes that were found in each school that are foundationally a part of Coalition of Essential Schools common principles. These are: 1) educational justice, democracy, and citizenship, 2) the educational value of interpersonal relationships between teachers and students, 3) pedagogical/curricular organization to enhance student engagement and learning, and 4) pathways to adulthood via the world. These four themes may be useful departure points for school districts as they begin their reform efforts.

Mark Light, Jason Hedrick & Jeff Dick

College Readiness for Rural Youth Initiative

In Ohio, one-third of recent high school graduates must enroll in remedial math and/or English in college (Ohio Board of Regents, 2012). According to an article posted in the online Daily Yonder in 2009, 16.8% of adults in rural counties had at least a B.A. degree (approximately half the urban rate). Rural northwest Ohio has a rate well below average; less than 14 percent of its adult population holds a college degree. It is increasingly important that we address this issue from the standpoints of both economics and youth college success. Since the northwest Ohio region is mostly rural, consisting of 22 counties with more than 140 high schools, it is unmanageable to address this problem alone. Creating a climate of success for youth in Northwest Ohio is a goal of the College Readiness for Rural Youth initiative. Due to the large geographic area targeted, we have engaged our collaborating partners to develop and facilitate "bridging" programs to support academic success and transitions to college for youth in our region. A total of 3,023 students from 15 counties and 72 schools participated in the College Readiness for Rural Youth Program in 2012.

Wendy L. McCarty

Alternative Teacher Certification: Preserving Nebraska's Rural Schools

This poster session will show why and how alternative teacher certification can help rural school districts deliver high-quality education in cost-effective ways by recruiting potential teachers who are already present within their own communities and regions. In doing so, schools may be able to reconsider whether consolidation is indeed their best solution, or even necessary, to meet their educational needs. Non-traditional teacher candidates are often ready to leave one or more careers behind in order to engage in "giving back" to their own communities via the classroom. And, because alternatively-certified teacher candidates bring their own life experiences into the classroom, the depth and breadth of their knowledge and experience is typically unmatched by more traditional counterparts. Nebraska's Transitional Teacher Certification Program uniquely based at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has, for the past decade, trained high-quality educators to meet rural school districts' needs, demonstrating that the best teachers may indeed be in one's own "backyard."

Barbara Meyers & Cheryl Broeklmann

Online Together: Bridging Distances

This poster will present the use of telepractice as a service delivery model for children with hearing loss to develop spoken language through listening in rural areas via the ihear Internet Therapy Program. The ihear program integrates the child's language needs in lessons that coordinate with their curriculum or to meet their IEP language/speech objectives. Ihear uses a secure high-quality internet connection, which is HIPAA and FERPA compliant. ihear serves children in 12 states and is currently working with professionals in 13 school districts. Systematic data collection is gathered when the student begins ihear sessions and is reassessed every six months using standardized assessments. Objectives are established and are embedded into the digital-lesson plans. Ihear is a collaborative process in which the ihear therapist and the school professional are partners. Goals and activities are established by therapist based on assessment, but are also responsive to family/educator/client preferences and functional needs in ways that are likely increased by family/educator involvement during sessions. The ihear therapist views their role as a mentor to the professional, empowering them to apply prior knowledge to develop new skills. The results from the data will be shared along with case studies.

Michael Middleton, Eleanor Abrams, Judy Dow & Claes Thelemarck

Mapping Sustainable Practices: Contextualizing Science for Rural Adolescents through Community-Based Programs

This poster highlights the formation of a participatory community-based research partnership as part of an NSF-funded project entitled Mapping Sustainable Practices (MSP) at the University of New Hampshire. The MSP project uses a highly-contextualized, inquiry-based learning model to engage rural adolescents in mapping community-based sustainable practices, using a GIS interactive database, and to share their results with other communities. The associated research examines the relation of adolescents' perceptions of their community to scientific knowledge and motivation for learning science. Successful project outcomes are dependent upon developing mutually beneficial partnerships with rural majority and rural indigenous community-based youth organizations. The focus will be on the process for developing genuine collaborative partnerships with communities that have historically been vulnerable to unfair treatment within customary research methods. Our processes emphasize social capital and trust and the need for establishing university/community relationships that are about "learning the meaning from" rather than "studying, interpreting and judging." Fundamental aspects of the presentation include: facilitating trust-building among community-based partners; developing ethical research guidelines; process-oriented creation of contextualized curricula; co-generating research questions and procedures to ensure an ethical and authentic research experience; sharing ownership and use of data; and reinforcing the health and vitality of participating communities.

Melissa Nantais & Jerry Zielinski

Supporting Rural Implementation of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS): A Statewide Network

Rural districts can benefit from and improve student outcomes by implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). In order to enhance the successful implementation of MTSS, rural issues must be taken into consideration and contextual strengths need to be embedded within the professional development content, systemic capacity building, and coaching and leadership supports necessary to implement sustainable MTSS evidence-based practices with fidelity. Michigan's Integrated Behavior and Learning Supports Initiative (MiBLSi) is in a unique position to provide rural districts in the state with access to and knowledge of Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) as well as the professional development, support, and resources necessary for these practices to be implemented with fidelity. This poster will describe the process being developed to provide a network of supports to rural districts across the state as they implement MTSS and will include examples of resources being developed to support this work. The focus is on supporting Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) to consider the unique contextual variables related to establishing and supporting the coaching and leadership support, training capacity, and developing systems necessary for rural districts to implement effective, evidence-based practices within an MTSS framework with an emphasis on fidelity and sustainability.

Joseph R. Nichols Jr. & Alexander Cuenca

Rural Communities and Rural Youth's Learning About Politics

Although students in rural schools are growing in number and becoming more diverse, the education of rural students often fails to garner public attention. In particular, the political development of rural youth is rarely discussed in research literature or national political conversations. As such, we know little about how rural adolescents learn about politics. With this poster, we will address the ways in which rural youth in one school in Georgia and one school in Illinois developed their political epistemologies. Our findings indicate that these rural students articulated their political epistemologies via their community's location in the world. Students in Georgia regarded themselves as isolated from and invisible to non-rural society. The isolationism and invisibility felt by these students meant that their political epistemologies developed through processes that left them feeling like they were not part of the political conversation. Despite living in areas and attending schools classified as rural, the Illinois students did not identify themselves as such. Instead, these students developed their political epistemologies more regionally; therefore, they felt little fidelity for the communities in which they lived. Accordingly, our findings indicate that the location of rural schools significantly impacts the political development of rural youth.

Elizabeth Smith

Lessons from Lake View: Judicial Involvement in School Funding in Rural Arkansas

Following integration, low-income schools across the country faced great obstacles in ensuring their educational offerings were equal to that of higher-income districts. Due to the discrepancies in state funding, schools throughout the country utilized adversarial legalism to invoke judicial involvement. In Arkansas, the judiciary was instrumental in redesigning school funding between 1994 and 2007, beginning with a suit brought by the Lake View School District. Lake View, a district in the rural Arkansas Delta region, claimed that the school funding system was inequitable and inadequate. This poster examines the political influences that affected Lake View implementation and the effect of the decisions on rural schools. Specifically, I consider the roles of the judiciary, state legislature, and executive branch (the governor and Arkansas Department of Education) in implementing mandates from Lake View District no. 25 v. Huckabee. I find that while the legislature created laws to implement judicial decisions, the executive branch at times acted to prevent policy implementation. After 15 years of adjudication, school funding in Arkansas was declared constitutional and rural schools obtained greater funding parity with the larger, more suburban districts throughout the state.

Michael Teahon & Jamie Isom

Nebraska Educators' Perceptions on the Implementation of a Balanced Assessment System

Nebraska educators have experienced a transition from a locally developed assessment system to a statewide test in reading, mathematics and science. Parallel studies were completed to explore the perceptions of Nebraska educators about the transition and its influence on implementing a balanced assessment system. A total of 449 educators from 92 schools participated in the studies, including 115 administrators and 334 teachers. Quantitative data collected through a web-based survey of perceptions about assessments in general, Nebraska's two assessment systems, and the prevalence of a balanced assessment system were collected. Qualitative data from open-ended survey questions and interviews were then collected in a second phase for the purpose of assisting in the explanation and interpretation of the findings. The results indicate that both teachers and administrators recognize the importance of a balanced assessment system but have yet to effectively define it within their districts. Districts must still determine the role of assessment in improving instruction, evaluating student progress, improving student learning, driving school improvement, and demonstrating accountability for the public. Nebraska must incorporate the advantages of STARS in development of assessment, student preparation, and curriculum alignment with the strengths of NeSA in evaluating student progress and in public accountability.

Lois Todd-Meyer

A Holistic Approach to Reading Intervention for Older Adolescents

Teachers in rural schools are adjusting to increasing implementation of high-stakes standardized tests. Many schools, in efforts to raise reading test scores of high school students, are using commercially produced, highly scripted reading intervention methods that target specific skills, such as fluency or decoding. This poster presents ongoing research that focuses on the efficacy of a more holistic approach to reading intervention for older adolescents. Research indicates that a comprehensive approach that targets certain skills and teaches students to use reading strategies can increase test scores. However, if the goal is to help prepare students for the reading literacy skills they need to experience success in post-secondary education, simply raising test scores does not fulfill this goal. Researchers acknowledge that many variables, such as the values and background of the students and their teachers, along with the context of their interactions, are also associated with improved motivation and interest in text for older readers (Edmonds et al., 2009). Focusing on each student as an individual learner and establishing a mutually respectful, trusting relationship are critical components of effective literacy intervention (Moore & Cunningham, 2006; Moje et al., 2000; Greenleaf & Hinchman, 2009).