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February 28, 2007
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July 12, 2006
National Center for Education Statistics, Institute for Education Sciences
Using a new classification system adopted in 2006 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), analysts can now reliably compare data by locale across a variety of surveys (including the Common Core of Data, the Schools and Staffing Survey, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP]). The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) deployed this new classification system for the first time in this study, which examines how well schools in rural areas (defined by their distance from an urbanized area--in general, 5 miles or greater) compare with schools in cities, suburbs, and towns. The findings aren't eye-popping; most are predictable:
That rural students' overall academic performance isn't higher may be surprising to those who believe that involved parents and satisfied teachers are the key to student academic achievement. The study found that rural parents are more likely to be involved in their children's schools and learning than in other locales, and that rural teachers are more satisfied with their jobs. (Involved parents are nice, but hardly necessary for students' success. As for teachers, competence and skill matter far more than how satisfied teachers are in their positions.) The report is less than scintillating, but it's a good first road test for the new classification system. Download it here.