The Geography of Rural Educational Opportunity

Rural opportunity paperMAY 2022

This is a research article by Jessica Drescher, Anne Podolsky, Sean F. Reardon, Gabrielle Torrance. They use nearly 430 million standardized test scores, including test scores from more than 6,500 rural school districts, to describe educational opportunity in rural America.

Although they find modest differences in outcomes between rural and nonrural students overall, these disparities are larger for specific socioeconomic, racial-ethnic, and geographic groups. They also find that the relationship between socioeconomic status and achievement is somewhat weaker in rural areas compared to nonrural areas. Variation in third-grade achievement and learning rates is considerable among rural districts, indicating that rates of early and middle childhood educational opportunity are not evenly distributed throughout rural America.