Report Shines Light on Rural Students

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Nearly one in five US students — a total of 9.3 million — attend rural schools. But far too often, the needs of these students are overlooked in national discussions.

The leaders at the Rural School and Community Trust hope to change that. The group released its annual Why Rural Matters report today to shed light on the scope and status of rural education.

“While some rural schools thrive, others and their communities continue to face devastating obstacles in the education and well-being of children,” Robert Mahaffey, executive director of the Rural School and Community Trust, said in a press release.

Report highlights includes:

  • Roughly one in six rural students live below the poverty line.
  • In 12 states, at least half of public schools are rural. Those states are: Montana, South Dakota, Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, Alaska, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Mississippi. At least one-third of schools are rural in 14 other states.
  • Rural students outscored non-rural students on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in a majority of states with available data. Rural achievement is very low in some states, however, relative to non-rural districts; it’s lowest in Hawaii and highest in Rhode Island.
  • Only 9.5 percent of the nation’s rural students passed Advanced Placement courses in 2018-19, compared with 19 percent of all US high school students, 18.8 percent of urban students, and 24.1 percent of suburban students.

Read the full report and learn more about NACAC’s Rural and Small Town Special Interest Group.

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

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