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Dropout Prevention in Rural Schools

REL Midwest and its Rural Research Alliance hosted the filming of a public television special with WFYI, “Dropout Prevention in Rural Schools.” Our moderator and panelists explored the unique challenges that rural districts face in regard to supporting students at risk of dropping out of high school. They also shared dropout prevention strategies used in a rural Indiana school district and discussed how current dropout prevention research applies in rural communities.   


The event featured a conversation with John Hill, Ed.D., executive director of the National Rural Education Association, who discussed the unique challenges that rural districts face in relation to decreasing student enrollment, staff capacity, and limited funding. Dr. Hill also highlighted rural dropout prevention trends seen across the country. Terry Sargent, Ph.D., superintendent of Jennings County Schools, described his district’s response to low graduation rates. Caitlin Howley, Ph.D., fellow at ICF International, detailed recent research that looks at promising dropout prevention efforts in rural communities. 


This event was designed to address the U.S. Department of Education’s priority area of college and career readiness. The public television special aired October 3, 2015, as part of WFYI’s American Graduate Day programming.  




Jenny Scala, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research




John Hill, Ed.D., Executive Director, National Rural Education Association

Caitlin Howley, Ph.D., Fellow, ICF International

Terry Sargent, Ph.D., Superintendent, Jennings County Schools


Related Resources


Porowski, A., & Howley, C. (2013). Dropout prevention: Challenges and opportunities in rural settings. Fairfax, VA: ICF International. Retrieved from


Wilcox, K. C., Angelis, J. I., Baker, L., & Lawson, H. A. (2014). The value of people, place and possibilities: A multiple case study of rural high school completion. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 29(9), 1–18. Retrieved from