Envisioning the Rural Practicum: A Means to Positively Affect Recruitment and Retention in Rural Schools


Recruitment and retention of teachers in rural areas continue to dominate educational narratives across the country. School districts, state agencies, and university schools of education have instituted strategies including financial incentives, alternative standards and licensure criteria, and grow-your-own programs that target underemployed locals and paraprofessionals for accelerated licensure. While each strategy may enjoy situational success, none is a panacea for all circumstances. However, there is growing interest in the development of university and school district partnerships in creating innovative solutions to rural recruitment and retention issues. This study investigates the efficacy of a partnership between several small rural districts and a state university partnering to create and test a contextualized clinical practice model. The Montana State University rural practicum placed 13 preservice teachers in a week-long, immersive clinical practice in rural, remote schools in Montana, for them to authentically experience the rural context and for researchers to determine if such an experience might positively affect recruitment and retention efforts. The study used a community-based participatory research method to ensure equal participation of both university and rural school partners in co-creating the experience and in collecting and analyzing data. Results suggest that the rural practicum experience positively affected preservice teacher perceptions of rural teaching and rural communities. Rural school leaders and university personnel also agreed that the model held promise for recruiting and retaining teachers in rural areas.




Versland, T., Will, K., Lux, N., & Hicks, J. (2020). Envisioning the Rural Practicum: A Means to Positively Affect Recruitment and Retention in Rural Schools. Theory & Practice in Rural Education, 10(1), 103–118. doi: 10.3776/tpre.2020.v10n1p103-118
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