Rural Community Input to School District Strategic Planning: An Action Research Model Using Focus Groups

Brent L. Winand, Carla Edlefson


A rural superintendent used action research principles in conducting a series of focus groups with community members, students, and staff. The focus group data informed strategic planning. At the end of a carefully designed process, district administrators found more agreement among residents than they had expected. Community members were grateful for the opportunity to participate, and the district’s strategic plan contained important goals that would not have been recognized without community input. Administrators believed conducting the focus groups themselves brought more benefit than if they had hired a consultant, because of the interaction with community members. The result was a model that could be used by other rural superintendents.


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