RANDOLPH — The Randolph Central School District recently joined 50 other rural schools as a part of the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks (NCRERN), an initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University.

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, the district will have the opportunity to apply the Proving Ground model of evidence-based improvement to address chronic absenteeism, college readiness and college enrollment.

“Students who are chronically absent are at-risk for falling behind and ultimately dropping out,” said Randolph Superintendent Kaine Kelly. “As part of our work with the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks, our district hopes not only to learn from other rural districts but also to share with them ideas for promising evidenced-based practices that will help students feel welcome, successful and supported.”

NCRERN will produce tools for identifying students most at risk for absenteeism and being unprepared for college as well as change management resources designed to guide rural schools in addressing chronic absenteeism, college readiness, and college enrollment.

Throughout the five years, the Center’s member districts will collaborate on shared challenges, learning from each other to guide future work on school improvement.

“The network brings together our expertise in strategic management and analytics and our partners’ expertise in supporting rural students,” said Bi Vuong, Proving Ground director and NCRERN interim director. “We are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with districts committed to learning with us and sharing their expertise with each other.”

Applicants were chosen based on alignment between the district’s strategic goals and the work of the Center, capacity to utilize data for decision making, commitment to continuous improvement practices and geographic distribution.

Nearby Gowanda Central School District was also selected to join the rural education center.

“The districts selected to be part of the National Center for Rural Education Research Network deserve congratulations,” said Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES district superintendent. “Their selection represents a uniquely valuable opportunity for them to bring the power of evidence and the Proving Ground improvement model to bear on some of the most pressing issues facing rural districts including chronic absenteeism and college readiness and enrollment. I look forward to learning alongside our districts as they work to improve student outcomes together.”