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IES Study of Okla. Reaffirms Challenges of Recruiting, Retaining Rural Educators

A new study from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest has reaffirmed many of the challenges related to recruiting and retaining educators in rural areas. The report, Indicators of Successful Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Oklahoma Rural School Districts (download PDF here), examines data spanning a decade in Oklahoma districts, more than 70% of which are rural.

The analysis finds that two key influences on teacher retention are compensation and teachers’ level of responsibility at their school. Numerous other factors affecting retention are catalogued in the appendices of the report, organized into categories of teacher, district, and community-based variables. Educator preparation programs that collaborate with rural districts may want to review the study’s findings for insights that might be applied to their own local challenges.

Meanwhile, other efforts are attempting to address some of the challenges of recruiting and retaining educators in rural areas. For example, the latest set of Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants featured a priority on this focus. Coppin State University (MD), North Carolina A&T State University, University of New Hampshire, and University of West Alabama were the four TQP grantees in 2016.

On Capitol Hill, two bills have been introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act and the Rural Educator Support and Training (REST) Act. These bills, supported by AACTE, seek to establish several new grant programs for students training to become educators in rural schools or schools that serve Native American students. The REST Act would also allow for increased loan forgiveness for rural educators, up to $17,500, and financial assistance for costs associated with becoming National Board certified.

For more information on the Oklahoma report and its findings, visit IES’s website.

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Zachary VanHouten

Manager of Programs and Advocacy, AACTE