Barriers To Fostering Student Success In High-Poverty, High-Minority, High-Achieving Rural Schools

William Andrew Bergeron, Frances Kochan, Ellen Reames


In this article we present the challenges facing high achieving, high poverty, and high minority rural schools in Alabama.  This is part one of a three part exploratory, qualitative, multi-case study, and it differs from most studies on the topic of overcoming the achievement gap in that the focus was on the perceptions of key stakeholders and not the programs, policies, curriculum, or leadership styles.  We identified three major recurring perceptions of the challenges facing the participant schools centered on three themes: student-centered issues, school-level challenges, and limited community support. One of the interesting aspects of this research is that a number of the issues identified as barriers to school success, particularly in rural school districts, were not identified in previous research. This article provides a window into the challenges these high-poverty, high-minority, and high-achieving rural schools in Alabama face in their quest to close the existing achievement gap to ensure their students have the tools necessary to be successful both in school and as productive adults after they graduate.


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