Center for Public Education Report: Rural Schools’ Needs Not Met
‘Out of the Loop’
coursework is limited. Rural schools
on average offer half as many advanced math courses as their urban
• Although rural students are more
likely to obtain a high school diploma
than urban students, they are significantly less likely to attend college or
earn a degree.
CPE also points out significant hurdles
faced by rural districts and schools:
• Hiring and retaining qualified educa-
tors is particularly difficult, especially
in STEM positions.
• Inadequate funding is a constant challenge. Funding is typically tied to the
size of the student population, creating severe operational challenges for
districts with smaller student pools.
Additionally, transportation costs can
be extensive in counties where students need to be bused long distances.
• Internet access and virtual learning are
Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for
Public Education (CPE), finds that poverty,
isolation, and inequities are exacerbated
for rural students by the lack of attention
to the unique needs of this considerable
While not equally distributed across
the country, approximately one-half of
school districts, one-third of schools, and
one-fifth of all students in the United
States are in rural areas, the CPE analysis
notes. Inadequate funding, lower literacy
rates, and less access to advanced courses
such as AP and STEM classes impact rural
students’ achievement, creating significant
barriers to their success.
“The unfortunate reality is that there
are academic and digital disparities in rural
districts, and students’ access to robust
opportunities therefore can vary widely,”
said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J.
Gentzel. “Policymakers have a real op-
portunity to help level the playing field
for rural students; however, it’s going to
require thoughtful solutions that are tai-
lored to the unique conditions of specific
In its study of rural students, CPE
• Child poverty runs higher in rural
counties. Approximately 64 percent of
rural counties experience high child
poverty rates, compared to 47 percent
of urban counties. Further, rural
children are more likely to experience
extreme and generational poverty.
• Access to rigorous and advanced