Building Capacity for Continuous Improvement of Math and Science Education in Rural Schools

Roy E. Blanton, Hobart L. Harmon


Schools in 47 high-poverty school districts located mostly along the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia may have a head start on new requirements of the No  Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, thanks to a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Begun in April 2000, the five-year Coastal Rural Systemic Initiative (CRSI) is striving to stimulate sustainable systemic improvements in science and mathematics education in school districts with a long history of low student expectations, persistent poverty, low teacher pay, and high administrator turnover. The CRSI capacity-building model is designed to address issues in rural school districts that traditionally limit the capacity for creating sustainable improvements in math and science programs. A critical action step is that each school district must sign a cooperative agreement to establish Continuous Improvement Teams (CITs) at the district and school levels. These CITs represent a fundamental system capacity-building change in how decisions are made at the school and district levels—a change that is also fundamental to creating lasting improvements in math and science education programs.


Harmon, H.L. (2001). Education issues in rural schools of America. In: Steven Henderson (Ed.), Understanding achievement in science and mathematics in rural school settings. (Conference Proceedings). Lexington, KY: Kentucky Science and Technology Council.

Harmon, H., Henderson, S., & Royster, W. (2002). Reforming math and science in rural schools. Principal Leadership, 2(5), 28-32.

Harmon, H. L., & Branham, D. H. (1999). Creating standards for rural schools: A matter of values. The High School Magazine, 7(4), 14-19.

Harmon, H., & Blanton, R. (1997). Strategies for improving math and science achievement in rural Appalachia. In: The Many Faces of Rural Education. Proceedings of the Annual National Rural Education Convention (89th, Tucson, AZ, September 24-27). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 413 141).

Lambert, L. (2003). Leadership capacity for lasting school improvement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Lambert, L. (1998). Building leadership capacity in schools. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Lewis, A. C. (2003). Accountability on the backs of rural children. Phi Delta Kappan,84(9), 643-644.

Love, N. (2001). Using data/getting results: A practical guide for school improvement in mathematics and science. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.

National Science Foundation. (2001). Drivers for systemic reform. Available:

Schmoker, M. (1999). Results: The key to continuous school improvement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Publication of the National Rural Education Association -

Report problems or questions about to the website to