RealClearEducation | Flanders: The Neglected Challenges of Rural Education

Writing at RealClearEducation, WILL Research Director Will Flanders notes that:

[T]here is quiet crisis taking place in rural schools across America in a neglected corner far from the debates that rage over education reform. While the national focus is often on the poor performance of urban schools, rural and many small-town schools perform significantly worse than urban schools in many cases. 

A new peer-reviewed study released by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) sheds light on this problem. The study, “Apples to Apples,” is the most comprehensive analysis to date of school performance in the Badger State. Schools are put on a level playing field by adjusting for demographic factors that can influence academic outcomes. The result is an honest and equal picture of school performance across all school sectors, including state exams and the ACT.

For rural and small-town schools in Wisconsin, the news is dire.

One part of our study examines the performance differences of urban, suburban, and rural schools. When we examine school performance along these lines, we find, perhaps not surprisingly, that rural and urban schools perform worse than suburban schools. But more surprising is that rural schools performed worse than urban schools. Specifically, rural schools had proficiency rates between 2 and 4 percentage points lower than urban schools.

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