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Kathy Randolph

TXST grant to help social-emotional learning curriculum in rural school districts

Friday, May 10, 2024

In partnership with the Mineola Independent School District, Kathy Randolph, Ed.D., BCBA- D., an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University, has received a grant to help enhance rural students' social-emotional learning and well-being.

The five-year $187,000 sub-award will support Project Second Step and is part of a larger, $4.3 million grant awarded to Mineola ISD by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Project Second Step is a 5-year effort that aims to increase rural student academic and behavioral outcomes in five high-need school districts. Randolph will support the development of a multi-tiered educator coaching program that leverages rural strengths and takes rural context into account to maximize the effectiveness of the Second Step curriculum, a 20-lesson social-emotional learning program.

More than 12 million students attend rural schools in the U.S. Although overall National Assessment of Educational Progress performance is on par with the national average, rural schools in impoverished areas score significantly lower than their more adequately resourced rural, suburban and urban peers. Rural schools face a number of challenges limiting student success, including economic hardship and poverty, ongoing and pervasive personnel shortages, resource disparities and lack of training to address increases in the diverse needs of rural learners. Compared to their non-rural peers, students in rural schools are more likely to be exposed to childhood neglect, abuse and trauma and to live in poverty. Rural students are also more likely to be diagnosed with a disability than their suburban and urban counterparts but are significantly less likely to have access to appropriate instruction, intervention and services. Both rural students and their teachers lack access to resources and opportunities.

The project aims to address these issues by creating a professional development model based on educator need to foster the use of the Second Step curriculum in high-need rural districts that struggle with limited staffing and geographic isolation. Once the curriculum is in place, researchers will study what additional implementation supports and resources are needed to more effectively integrate SEL programs in rural schools. They will also work to develop an improved coaching model and additional resources based on this learning and subsequently evaluate the coaching model for effectiveness.

The project is expected to result in an innovative multi-tiered coaching model for SEL implementation that is effective for high need rural schools, building upon the current implementation coaching models.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666