Within each of the four states we serve, REL Appalachia partners with research alliances to focus on improving the performance of low-achieving schools and closing achievement gaps. Our work aims to help schools use research to make informed policy decisions, and to accurately implement and assess the effectiveness of specific turnaround models. In particular, we focus on student engagement, increased learning time, and professional learning communities.
More than 320 schools in the region qualified for school improvement grants (SIGs) in 2010, with over a third designated “high-poverty schools” and more than 90 located in rural communities, according to IES data. Each state has developed initiatives and an infrastructure focused on improving its low-achieving and/or high-priority schools. Combined, these low-achieving schools enroll a substantial proportion of each state’s student population. Successfully supporting those students, and the schools they attend, will have a far-reaching impact. This challenge is one of the most intractable facing educators today.