BOISE, Idaho, Nov. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One in three American schools are rural, but little has been done to advance the understanding of how to help these schools serve their diverse populations. To help answer these questions, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced today the launch of the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho (ROCI) to advance education reform in rural and frontier America.
To date, the national education reform movement has focused primarily on the needs of low-income urban students. However, one in four American students attend school in a rural community and many students in rural schools are low-income. The ROCI will identify best practices nationally, support efforts to incubate innovations, and publish original research and findings on national trends in rural education.
"Schools in rural areas are often faced with unique challenges and opportunities. However, the amount of research on solutions that work for small and low-income rural schools is thin," said John White, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education. "Our nation needs experts in the field of education research to identify best practices and share timely and relevant models in ways that can be replicated as soon as possible. This important work may be conducted in rural Idaho but it has the potential to identify solutions for common challenges throughout rural America."
The ROCI will include a task force chaired by Dr. Paul Hill, research professor at the University of Washington and founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education. The task force will convene semi-annually in Boise and conduct research on a wide range of issues affecting rural education. Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping education organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors become more effective in their work, will also produce research on a select number of issues in rural education.
"Rural schools educate almost as many children as big city schools, but they haven't received anything like the same level of attention from policymakers, the public, or educational innovators," said Dr. Hill. "I hope ROCI puts rural education on the map."
ROCI members include:
The ROCI is funded by a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, a private family foundation based in Boise.
"We believe rural schools can be a better place for innovation because of their close relationships with and support from the community, as well as their ability to mobilize and respond quickly to needs, but we want to know for sure," said Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the Albertson Foundation. "Our foundation's board believes Idaho can be a national leader -- a model in closing the achievement gap for students who might have disadvantaged backgrounds and circumstances."
The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is committed to limitless learning for all Idahoans. Since 1997, the Foundation has invested more than $500 million to improve education in Idaho. For more information about the Foundation visit www.jkaf.org.
SOURCE Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho