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Why Rural Matters 2009: State and Regional Challenges and Opportunities.

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This report is the fifth in a series of biennial reports analyzing the contexts and conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states and calling attention to the need for policymakers to address rural education issues in their respective states. While it is the fifth in a series, this report is not simply an updating of data from earlier editions. The authors' intent in these reports is not--as it is in many state-by-state analyses--to compare states in terms of their differing rates of progress toward an arbitrary goal. Rather, their intent is (1) to provide information and analyses that highlight the priority policy needs of rural public schools and the communities they serve, and (2) to describe the complexity of rural contexts in ways that can help policymakers better understand the challenges faced by their constituencies and formulate policies that are responsive to those challenges. In 2006-07 (the school year used in this report), 9,063,790 public school students were enrolled in rural school districts--19% of the nation's total public school enrollment. Meeting the needs of more than 9 million children is a challenge that demands and deserves the attention of a nation. It is also a challenge that demands looking at issues from multiple perspectives in order to develop informed understandings that move beyond overly simplistic notions about rural schools and the communities they serve. The authors frame the report around five gauges measuring for each state (1) the Importance of rural education, (2) the Diversity of rural students and their families, (3) the Educational Policy Context impacting rural schools, (4) the Educational Outcomes of students in rural schools in each state, and (5) the characteristics of school districts experiencing Concentrated Poverty conditions. Each gauge is comprised of five equally weighted indicators--thus 25 indicators in all, the largest number of indicators the authors have used to date. The higher the ranking on a gauge, the more important or the more urgent rural education matters are in a particular state. (Contains 12 tables, 1 figure and 10 endnotes.)

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Author:Johnson, Jerry; Strange, Marty
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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