New Report Highlights Changes to Rural Education

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Like many other segments of society, small towns in the United States are changing.

Today, roughly one out of every five residents in rural America identifies as Latino. Between 2000 and 2009 alone, rural schools saw a 150 percent increase in enrollment of Latino students, according to a recent report from the Center for Public Education (CPE).

“As rural areas become increasingly diverse, it becomes more important to examine how this trend may change student needs,” according to report author Megan Lavalley, a CPE research analyst.

For example, Latino students often require additional support from an English as a second language instructor, a position that is more difficult to fill in rural areas. And like all rural students, their access to advanced courses is more likely to be limited, potentially influencing college attendance rates.

Poverty could also be a factor in their lives, writes Lavalley, whose report takes a deep dive into the challenges faced by rural students of all races and ethnicities. More research and policy discussions are needed to better serve young people in rural communities, she noted.

“The importance of rural education is not to be minimized: as reported here, one in five students, one in three schools, and one in two districts are located in a rural community,” Lavalley notes in the report’s conclusion. “These issues are now more relevant than ever.”

Read the full report and learn more about NACAC’s research-to-practice brief on serving rural students.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org. 

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