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Federal Improvement for Rural Schools

The Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) is a federal grant program that provides financial assistance to schools in rural areas. It differs from other grants in that REAP applicants do not compete against one another. Instead, the program grants funds to all applicants who meet certain criteria. The overall goal of REAP is to help rural students increase their test scores, which helps rural schools meet their state’s “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) score, which is a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act. REAP funding also helps support rural teacher retention by offering financial incentives to teaching staff. It provides funding for classroom resources as well as additional programming and opportunities for rural youth. Lastly, REAP offers teachers valuable professional development, which supports more dynamic learning opportunities for students.

Those pursuing an online Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy will learn more about federal and state programs, such as REAP, that are essential for increasing school improvement in rural areas. REAP provides rural schools with the following types of assistance.

Increased Technology Resources for Students

Rural schools often do not have access to the same technology resources as urban schools. Technology has quickly become essential in the classroom, and it provides many benefits to both teachers and students. For rural students to compete in higher education and (later) in the workplace, they must learn how to use technology. REAP provides funding for rural schools to purchase updated computers and software that helps students learn the necessary skills for state testing. REAP also support teachers by providing training on how to use the new technology. Thus, the funding of technology directly supports school improvement.

Incentives to Increase Teacher Retention

Rural schools often struggle with attracting and retaining teachers. The geographic and social isolation residents experience in rural areas is a leading cause of this problem. Additionally, the average salary for rural teachers is lower than that earned by urban teachers, which makes rural teaching jobs less attractive to quality candidates. REAP provides rural schools the ability to offer financial incentives to teachers willing to commit to rural teaching jobs. Under the Rural Education Achievement Program, teachers may receive signing bonuses or raises for staying in the job.

Supporting Professional Development

Teachers benefit from professional development throughout the school year. Professional development can take the form of teacher in-service days, regional or national teaching conferences or subject-area workshops. Professional development benefits students by giving teachers the skills necessary to be effective and engaging in the classroom. It also provides teachers with new strategies for classroom management, behavioral issues and accommodating students with special needs. Importantly, because rural teachers experience a fair degree of isolation, professional development also functions as a social connection to other educators.

The Rural Education Achievement Program is an important resource for helping rural schools meet state standards of excellence. REAP provides technology resources to rural students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience computer-based learning. It also provides professional development and financial incentives to teachers, which allows schools to better attract and retain quality candidates.

Those considering an online master’s degree in education can expect coursework and experiential learning that develops professional educators. Learning about the programs available to rural schools is one way teachers can increase their awareness of funding resources that contribute to school improvement and supporting schools in meeting state AYP standards.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program.


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