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Ohio Department of Education Announces Partnership with Harvard to Support Rural Districts

Release date: 2/7/2019

New research center will address challenges of chronic absenteeism, college readiness

The Ohio Department of Education and the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University announced the award of $10 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

The grant will create a network of rural school districts that will work together to create and test solutions to the challenges of chronic absenteeism, college readiness and college enrollment in rural education.

Like CEPR’s Proving Ground initiative, the center applies a continuous improvement approach to help school districts identify and test evidence-based solutions to district challenges. The approach allows school districts to pool data across the network to uncover potential solutions and evaluate their success.

Proving Ground’s current work with urban districts in Ohio led to reduced absenteeism in the Canton City and Maple Heights City schools. Nearly $5 million of the five-year grant will support 30 rural Ohio school districts statewide. Another 30 rural districts in New York also will participate.

“We are excited that rural schools in Ohio will have this fantastic opportunity to help build their capacity to use data analysis to drive continuous improvement,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria. “Our experience with the Proving Ground program has shown that student outcomes can be positively impacted when this model is applied. We are honored to have the opportunity to expand this work.”

Since 2015, CEPR’s Proving Ground has supported partner districts by providing data analysis, strategic advice, hands-on assistance and peer networking opportunities. Ohio was selected to participate in this grant opportunity, in part, because rural districts in Ohio serve a large percent of the state’s school-age children compared to the national average.