Public Schools at the Crossroads: Addressing the Dropout Challenge in Rural America

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Webcast Details

Aired on: August 11th, 2015

3:30–4:30 p.m. (ET)

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Our Guest(s) This Week

Hobart Harmon

One of the nation’s leading experts on public education in rural America, Dr. Hobart Harmon is codirector of the Rural Math Excel Partnership, an investing in innovation (i3) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DoE), and operated by the Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc. Dr. Harmon has been involved in some of the most significant improvement initiatives in rural education, including the National Science Foundation’s Rural Systemic Initiatives, and the U.S. DoE’s 15-state rural dropout prevention technical assistance initiative. Dr. Harmon also advised the Alliance for Excellent Education in producing a report that brought attention to the dropout problem in rural America.

This Week's Topic

Many communities in rural America are in major transition as leaders confront the realities of significant social, cultural, and economic shifts. Today, public schools are at a crossroads as they try to offer a modern education in the face of dwindling resources, changing school populations, and increasing accountability demands. With more than 12 million students enrolled in public schools in rural America, addressing the dropout challenge is vital to the future of students, their families, and rural communities. How do public schools and community leaders form meaningful partnerships to implement solutions to the dropout challenge — particularly when changing times raise the issue to crisis proportions?

“Public Schools at the Crossroads: Addressing the Dropout Challenge in Rural America” will focus on:

  • Where the rural dropout problem is most prominent in the U.S., and why there are high concentrations of dropouts in certain rural areas;
  • What risk factors fuel dropping out of school in rural areas; and
  • How partnerships can help confront challenges for implementing promising dropout practices in rural areas.


National Dropout Prevention Center/Network

Association of Educational Service Agencies

National Rural Education Association

The Rural School and Community Trust

Atlas of Rural and Small Town America

Alliance for Excellent Education. (2010). Current challenges and opportunities in preparing rural high school students for success in college and careers: What federal policymakers need to know. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from  pdf

Carr, P. J., & Kefalas, M. J. (2009). Hollowing out the middle: The rural brain drain and what it means for America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Chappell, S. L., O’Connor, P., Withington, C., & Stegelin, D. A. (2015, April). A meta-analysis of dropout prevention outcomes and strategies (A Technical Report in Collaboration with The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University). Clemson, SC: National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson University.

Epstein, J. L. (2011). School, family, and community partnerships: preparing educators and improving schools (2nd ed.) Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Ferguson, C. (2008). The school-family connection: Looking at the larger picture. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Howley, C., & Porpwski, A. (2013, September 30). Reducing the rural dropout rate. The Daily Yonder.

Jordan, J. L., Kostandini, G., & Mykerezi, E. (2012). Rural and urban high school dropout rates: Are they different? Journal of Research in Rural Education, 27(12), 1-21.

McCaul. E. (1989). Rural public school dropouts: Findings from high school and beyond. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 6(1), 19-23  pdf

McGranahan, D. (2015 – July). Understanding the geography of growth in rural child poverty. Amber Waves. – .Vb_Nv86QcmY. (2015).

McGranahan, D. A. (2004). The persistence of county high school dropout rates in the rural South, 1970-2000. Review of Regional Studies, 34(3), 288-302.

Rumberger, R. W. (2011). Dropping out: Why students drop out of high school and what can be done about it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Smink, J., & Reimer, M. (2009). Rural school dropout issues: Implications for dropout prevention, strategies and programs. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.

Stephens, E. R. (1999). Expanding the vision: New roles for educational service agencies in rural school district improvement. Charleston, WV: AEL, Inc., The Rural Center.

Tombari, M., Andrews, A., Gallinati, T, & Seeley, K. (2009, October). School dropouts in rural Colorado school districts. Pueblo, CO: National Center for Student Engagement.

Wilcox, K. C., Angelis, J. I., Baker, L., & Lawson, H. A. (2014). The value of people, place and possibilities: A multiple case study of rural high school completion. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 29(9), 1-18.

Wuthnow, R. (2013). Small-town America: Finding community, shaping the future. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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