Indiana

Rural Education Improvement and Support

State Plan

Scope

This project is an outgrowth of the Year 6 Excellent Educators project, in which rural education was one of the embedded initiatives. The Great Lakes Comprehensive Center (GLCC) helped organize and facilitate a series of four meetings of the Indiana Rural School Superintendents’ Task Force (IRSTF). IRSTF identified three challenges to address in the 2018-19 school year: educator recruitment and retention, reporting and compliance, and funding equity. In Year 7, GLCC will support IDOE’s implementation of the recommendations of the IRSTF report. In partnership with the GTL Center, GLCC will assist IDOE in developing cross-state rural collaboration, focused on grow-your-own (GYO) programs as a strategy to address educator recruitment and retention. This project will support IDOE with implementation of aspects of their ESSA plan related to rural districts. Through this work, IDOE aims to see the average number of teacher vacancies in rural districts decrease and to provide support to rural schools, which drawing on strategies from peers nationwide, can offer a richer and more attractive array of options to students and staff (e.g., benefits, enrichment courses). The ultimate goal is to have students from rural schools have higher achievement rates; experience stable schools with little teacher turnover; and enjoy access to enrichment classes, advanced coursework, and career-technical education options.

Challenge

Because of their small size, geographic isolation, and other complicating factors, rural schools and educators face specific challenges that complicate and lessen the efficacy of state and federal policies and initiatives. Rural districts account for more than half of the districts in Indiana (55%) and serve 24% of the total student population. According to data provided by IDOE for Strategies for Rural Education (2018), rural districts had to each replace an average of 11 teachers. In rural settings with smaller schools, this number represents a high proportion of teaching staff. Additionally, smaller staff sizes require that teachers and administrators act in multiple roles that, in larger districts, are distributed among various people. Because of the structure of property taxes, rural districts often have less money to fund schools and salaries. Although all schools face challenges with staffing, time, and funding, these challenges often are exacerbated in rural settings and are not resolved by solutions that target urban or suburban settings.

Milestones

Milestone 1. A cross-state meeting focused on rural education challenges. (11/30/2018)

Milestone 2. Identification of expert-based recommendation for GYO program that fits the rural context. (12/30/2018)

Milestone 3. A community of practice (CoP) for rural districts and schools that are participating in a GYO initiative established. (2/28/2019)

Milestone 4. The development of a series of four documents that summarize practices or programs and topics to guide decision making about GYO educators and recruitment, retention, mentoring, and induction programs and best practices. (5/31/2019)

Milestone 5. Three meetings (January, June, and August) for rural districts interested in a GYO program organized and held. (8/31/2019)

Expected Capacity Building Outcomes

Primary: Improved knowledge and skills
Secondary: Improved intra- and interorganizational relationships

Expected Outcomes

  • IDOE will have improved knowledge and skills to lead rural districts in implementing GYO, recruitment, retention, mentoring, and induction programs
  • IDOE will have improved interorganizational relationships that will enable more effective leadership and guidance to rural districts experiencing teacher shortages and low student achievement
  • IDOE will lead a rural GYO CoP

Expected Outputs

  • A cross-state meeting focused on rural education
  • Expert-based recommendation for a GYO program that fits the rural context
  • CoP for rural districts and schools participating in a GYO initiative
  • Four documents that summarize practices and programs and topics to guide decision making about GYO educators and recruitment, retention, mentoring and induction programs and best practices
  • Three meetings for rural districts interested in GYO programs