Georgia Looking for Ways to Support Rural Teacher Recruitment

Last Updated: February 23, 2012

This article appeared in the February 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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The Georgia State Department of Education has asked the Board of Education for clearance to use $3.6 million of the state’s Race to the Top grant monies to award tax-exempt “signing bonuses” for teachers who choose to move to rural high-need schools. The funds would be distributed to districts that are home to the approximately 920 schools that qualify as high-need due to their percentage of students in poverty, who are members of minority groups, or both.

As described in the state’s application for its $400 million RTTT award, the program would allow districts to award bonuses of up to $50,000 to “highly effective teachers.” The bonuses would vest over a period of three years and would require evidence of teacher effectiveness that could include measures such as student test scores. The state estimates that roughly 50 schools could take advantage of the program. Under the grant guidelines, funds will be awarded to districts/schools on a competitive basis, and will take into account the district’s geographic context, current recruiting plans, and shortage areas.

According to the Georgia SDE, the state has the third largest rural student population in the nation, and its graduation rate in rural schools is the third lowest among all states for rural students. Georgia is also entering into partnerships with organizations such as Teach for America and The New Teacher Project to place teachers in rural as well as urban areas.

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Read more from the February 2012 Rural Policy Matters.