Minnesota’s rural education ranked above the national median in a new national report from the Rural and Community Trust. The state scored highest in education policy and funding. Minnesota scored lowest in college readiness and fell below the national median in that area as well as educational outcomes. View Minnesota Snapshot

Why Rural Matters 2018-19: the Time is Now is the ninth in a series of 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 including early learning.

Rural Rankings

The state received an overall score of 30. Scores above 25 mean that the state is doing better than the median of the 50 states.  Scores for each of the performance indicators in the report are as follows:

Performance Indicators


Prevalence of rural schools and related measures
Student and Family Diversity                                                                   31
Education Policy and Funding
Addresses rural schools’ and students’ needs
Educational Outcomes                                                                            23
College Readiness                                                                                   19

Educational Outcomes

A closer look at the Educational Outcomes gauge shows a mixed picture of National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores on which our students perform well, but do not show growth. While Minnesota ranks 11th in rural total NAEP performance with a score of 39, and 15th in the gap in scores between students in poverty vs. not in poverty with a score of 35, Minnesota’s rural students show less growth between 4th and 8th grade in reading and math than other states.

College Readiness

The College Readiness rankings show that we are in the middle of the pack in regard to males and female juniors and seniors taking dual credit classes (26 and 25 respectively), and despite graduating 88% of our students, we are below the median with a rank of 21.  While one may well dismiss the low ranking in students taking an AP test, because rural high schools have focused on dual credit, the reported 46.3% of juniors or seniors who have taken the ACT or SAT ranks us below the median as well.

The report is based on 2016-17 school year data, so that score is puzzling and needs further analysis, given the efforts to increase ACT/SAT participation and state reimbursement for testing costs.  However, the conclusion that Minnesota’s students’ college readiness is lower than we would like is confirmed in the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis report Statewide Crisis:  Minnesota’s Achievement Gaps

Early Learning

The Early Learning Section of the report:  Rural Early Childhood Development and Education: Issues and Opportunities addresses a wide range of topics from early learning teacher recruitment to food insecurity.  It is organized by children’s ages: birth to 5, and 5-8.  It highlights data, trends, promising practices and provides a good bibliography of early learning and development research journals and resources.  It does not provide state-to-state comparisons as does the main report.


Minnesota Snapshot

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