The VASS, Inc. model of shared responsibility for rural schools is the result of almost 5 years of work with school divisions in Virginia. Starting in January 2013 with a $2.73 million Investing in Innovation (i3) “development” grant from the U.S. Department of Education and about $.45 million in private sector matching funds, VASS and 6 Virginia Southside rural school divisions began development of the model. Now we are working with 2 demonstration sites (Accomack and Page school divisions) to use the model to benefit their students and rural communities.
In the model, parents/family members, math teachers and the local community perform key student support functions to help students understand the relevance of success in math to their future success. Family Math Night activities and community STEM and health careers events engage students in activities that help them see the importance of math. Videos of technicians in STEM-H occupations explain for students and their parents why math is important in the workplace. Use of other videos and online resources give both teachers and parents access to resources that help them perform their roles of responsibility. It is the collective support effort of teachers, parents/family members, and the community that the model seeks to achieve for student success in foundational math courses like Algebra and Geometry.
Why? Because more students in schools across rural America must succeed in foundational math courses if they are to earn credentials required for careers in STEM and health-related occupations. And much evidence indicates a majority of these occupations that offer a living wage in rural regions will be technician-level occupations (e.g., advanced manufacturing technician, medical technician).
Learn more about our demonstration sites under the “Current Sites” tab. You can learn more about the model and the Rural Math Excel Partnership (RMEP) project that created it by viewing the welcome video. You also can find additional information about the project in the December 2016 RMEP Newsletter at http://tinyurl.com/hxyttkn, including special comments by Dr. Allen Pratt, the executive director of the National Rural Education Association, about why we need innovation projects like RMEP.