Why Rural Matters 2007: The Realities of Rural Education Growth

Last Updated: March 04, 2009

By Jerry Johnson, Policy Research and Analysis Manager and Marty Strange, Policy Director
Why Rural Matters 2007

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Why Rural Matters 2007: The Realities of Rural Education Growth is a snapshot of rural education that provides essential information on the condition of rural education in the 50 states and uncovers new trends and challenges facing rural educators.

Why Rural Matters 2007 is the fourth in a series of biennial reports analyzing the importance of rural education in each of the 50 states and calling attention to the urgency with which policymakers in each state should address rural education issues.


Overall, enrollment in rural schools is up by 15%--a reversal of the year-over-year declines these communities have seen. While overall enrollment is on the rise the most startling data revealed in Why Rural Matters 2007 is the 55% increase in rural minority students, with some states experiencing increases of over 100%. The report also serves as a reminder that many rural schools continue to face a number of challenges, including high poverty levels, low student achievement, low teacher salaries and uneven distribution of Title I funds.

We framed this report around five gauges measuring: (1) the Importance of rural education, (2) the level of Socioeconomic Challenges known to be barriers to academic achievement faced by rural schools, (3) the level of Student Diversity among rural students, (4) the rural educational Policy Context, and (5) the educational Outcomes of rural students in each state. Each gauge is comprised of several equally weighted indicators--23 indicators in all--the largest number of indicators and gauges we have used to date.

The higher the ranking on a gauge, the more important or the more urgent rural education matters are in that state. We then combined the five gauge rankings, computing an overall ranking called the Rural Education Priority Gauge to prioritize states according to the overall status of rural education in each state.

(click on your state to see where it ranks and view the state page from the report)
Select a state.. Delaware New Jersey Maryland New Jersey Delaware Rhode Island Hawaii Alaska Hawaii Hawaii Michigan Michigan Virginia Oklahoma Kentucky Delaware New Jersey Connecticut Rhode Island Idaho Nevada Arizona Utah New Mexico Texas Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Wyoming Colorado Alabama Wisconsin Illinois Louisiana Arkansas Missouri Florida Georgia South Carolina North Carolina Tennessee West Virginia Indiana Ohio New York Pennsylvania Maine Oregon Washington Montana Minnesota Iowa California Mississippi Maryland Vermont New Hampshire Massachusetts