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Consortium of Rural Educators Teaching American History

The consortium districts are in a high-poverty, southeastern Tennessee area where teachers have no access to American history professional development and where nearly 30 percent of high school seniors score below proficiency on the state history exam. During the initial 3 years, teachers will participate at different levels, with all 170 teachers taking part in two professional development sessions and one summer institute each year. In addition, 30 high implementation (HI) teachers will take graduate classes that lead to degrees; HI teachers will present at conferences and participate in summer study trips. The HI teachers will be assigned to 30 partner teachers, whom they will mentor. The 10 participating preservice educators will take classes alongside veteran teachers and will complete their internships with HI teachers. In Years 4 and 5, the HI and partner teachers will work with project staff to lead follow-up activities. Teachers and, by extension, their students will understand that history is not a fixed concept. Participants will be encouraged to use a data-informed, teaching-reteaching model that employs formative and summative assessments; this model will be supported by training in such strategies as historiography, use of primary source documents, review of student performance data and integration of digital materials. Project-generated best practices in teaching strategies, evaluation tools, lessons and materials will be shared in two ways: (1) presentations at the Tennessee Council for Social Studies conference and at national conferences such as the Organization of American Historians, and (2) posting materials on three Web sites to make them available to local, state and national audiences.