Gottlieb, Derek

Committee Member

McConnel, Christy

Committee Member

Ku, Heng-Yu

Committee Member

Klein, Phil


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Teacher Education, Educational Studies


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



183 pages

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Born digital


Clay, Matthew A. Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: Student Success on the High Plains of Western Kansas. Published Doctor of Education dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 2020. In 2017 the Kansas State Department of Education unveiled the new Kansans Can policy. The initiative carried the vision of “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.” From this idealistic vision, an operational definition of success was created from a listening tour that traveled throughout the state. However, condensing a plurality of people and communities’ perspectives into a single, placeless definition of success provides an opportunity to compare that definition to the ways in which success is perceived in actual rural schools by individual teachers. Utilizing a combination of participant photography and educational connoisseurship and criticism, this study considered what types of success are recognized in two rural Western Kansas communities, as well as what the definition of success and outcomes of the Kansans Can policy conceals about student success. Participants in this study included six teachers from two rural, Western Kansas districts, which consisted of two elementary and four secondary teachers. From the study, several themes emerged related to the values, actions, and beliefs represented in student success as identified by the participants, including community, persistence, engagement, workmanship, and independence. Although some of the types of success recognized by participants fall within the narrow scope of the definition in the Kansans Can policy, the policy outcomes and definitions ultimately are not able to identify many of the types of success identified by participants. Ultimately this study highlights how participants recognize success in the unique setting of their rural communities, the potential implications of policy’s inability to see these successes, and potential opportunities for policymakers to allow increased rural voice in the creation of educational policy. Keywords: rural education, student success, educational connoisseurship and criticism, Kansans Can, spatial justice

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Copyright is held by the author.