Schools in 47 high-poverty school districts located mostly along the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia may have a head start on new requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, thanks to a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Begun in April 2000, the five-year Coastal Rural Systemic Initiative (CRSI) is striving to stimulate sustainable systemic improvements in science and mathematics education in school districts with a long history of low student expectations, persistent poverty, low teacher pay, and high administrator turnover. The CRSI capacity-building model is designed to address issues in rural school districts that traditionally limit the capacity for creating sustainable improvements in math and science programs. A critical action step is that each school district must sign a cooperative agreement to establish Continuous Improvement Teams (CITs) at the district and school levels. These CITs represent a fundamental system capacity-building change in how decisions are made at the school and district levels—a change that is also fundamental to creating lasting improvements in math and science education programs.

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