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National Rural Education Association

Rural Research Agenda

Check out our press release below to learn about our most current agenda!

NAtional Rural Education Association Releases Five-Year Research Agenda

The National Rural Education Association (NREA) is pleased to release the National Rural Education Association Research Agenda 2022–2027. The agenda charts a five-year research path for rural education with the goal of shedding light on innovative rural practices, addressing unique rural challenges, and continuing to build on the strengths of rural people and places. Prepared by a subcommittee for NREA's Research and Higher Education Committee, the agenda was guided by research data collected from a broad representation of rural education stakeholders. On the research agenda, Allen Pratt, Executive Director of NREA states, “This research agenda provides a powerful tool to help ensure rural strengths are recognized and inequities are understood and addressed.”

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The central goal of the agenda is to present major priorities for current and future rural education research in order to support the efforts of rural leaders and educators as well as advise the policy makers, community leaders and activists, nonprofit organizations, and funding organizations who contribute to the vitality of rural schools and communities. Pam Buffington, one of the NREA subcommittee members who prepared the agenda and Director of Rural STEM Initiatives at Education Development Center, expressed excitement about the advocacy that the agenda has the potential to generate. “Rural places are incubators for many innovative practices. We are hopeful that this research agenda will bring attention to the impactful educational practices that are occurring in rural schools and communities.”

The 2022–2027 Rural Research Agenda centers spatial and educational equity with five additional interconnected themes—policy and funding; teacher/leader recruitment, retention, and preparation; college and career trajectory; community partnerships and relationships, and health and wellness—circling the core category. Erin McHenry-Sorber, Associate Professor of Higher Education at West Virginia University and member of the NREA subcommittee, notes, “The practitioners and scholars who contributed to this agenda understand the ways students within rural communities have disparate educational opportunities and the ways geography and place influence the opportunities afforded to rural students and schools across communities.”

Speaking to the importance of this, Sara L. Hartman, another member of the NREA subcommittee and an Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Ohio University says, “Approximately 20% of children in the United States are growing up in rural places, children who deserve equitable access to opportunities and resources. This agenda recognizes the diversity of rural places and serves as a call to action to provide equitable educational support for rural students, schools, and communities.”

More information about the research process used to develop the agenda is provided in a forthcoming article in The Rural Educator. Questions pertaining to the research process can also be directed to the research subcommittee members listed below.

Research Subcommittee Members

Catharine Biddle is an associate professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Maine.

Pamela J. Buffington, Ph.D., is the Director of Rural Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in the US Division of Education Development Center.

Sara L. Hartman is an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Ohio University.

Erin McHenry-Sorber is an associate professor of higher education administration in the School of Education at West Virginia University.

J. Kessa Roberts is an assistant professor of instructional leadership in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University.

Sarah Schmitt-Wilson is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Education at Montana State University.