The U.S. Department of Education has released the Evaluation of the Implementation of the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) Program: Final Report, which shows that districts receiving funds from the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program reported that they used the funds to purchase technology, to provide professional development for teachers and to support instructional programs designed to help low-income students. Districts officials reported to researchers that they appreciated the flexibility they had to spend money from the RLIS program on local needs.
"Rural schools have unique needs and face unique challenges," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We're committed to moving forward with policies that consider the specific needs of rural schools and supporting them in preparing students for success in college and careers."
The Rural and Low-Income School program is included in Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The program is a part of the Rural Education Achievement Program and provides additional funds to help rural districts serving low-income students make adequate yearly progress, as required by ESEA. In the 2009-10 school year, the RLIS program distributed almost $86 million to 1,497 districts in 41 states. The average district received $57,000 from the program.
In the Department of Education's evaluation of the program, researchers from Berkeley Policy Associates and Learning Point Associates found that the districts used the RLIS money in ways that were intended to improve the quality of instruction and increase student achievement. They spent their federal money to upgrade their computers, purchase educational software and technology, to provide professional development and to buy instructional materials.
Under Blueprint for Reform of ESEA, President Obama and Secretary Duncan have pledged to continue funding the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) and other critical formula programs to aid rural districts. The Blueprint also proposes to give districts eligible for RLIS additional flexibility to use funds to help them meet their needs.
The report, Evaluation of the Implementation of the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) Program: Final Report, is available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html#rural.