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Rural Education

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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One in four students in the United States attends a rural school. These schools face unique challenges, including small talent pools, fewer economies of scale, and limited access to broadband. Additionally, federal and/or state policies are often misaligned to rural contexts, where tightly knit communities value personal relationships, local problem solving, and self-governance.
Bellwether’s work seeks to draw attention to the unique needs of rural schools, teachers, and students in order to help all rural students expand their horizons and reach their potential. As former conveners of the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, we brought together the nation’s leading education thinkers to build the knowledge base about rural schools. This group studied and developed innovative policy recommendations on myriad issues in rural education, including the ties between education and economic development, the rigor of rural high schools, dual enrollment programs, and strategies for serving migrant Hispanic students. We also provide advising and strategic planning support to nonprofits and school operators seeking to expand their impact in rural communities.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:


December 31, 2014
Lars D. Johnson, Ashley LiBetti Mitchel, Andrew J. Rotherham
Many administrators and educators in rural America believe federal education policy is not designed for rural districts, and that consideration of...
January 29, 2014
By Andy Smarick
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Student achievement results in our nation’s most remote areas look very similar to those in our inner cities — heartbreakingly low...

Blog Posts

March 1, 2017
Kelly Robson
Should schools push all students to go to college or are alternatives like career and technical education (CTE) appropriate? The debate is...
January 22, 2016
Juliet Squire
Rural education wasn’t on my radar until I started to manage the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho (ROCI), a joint initiative between...
October 13, 2015
Jennifer Schiess
A paradox is at work in rural America. On the one hand, students in rural schools demonstrate high levels of academic achievement. A higher...