The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) recently released a report on the challenges and issues facing rural schools. This was a follow up to a 2004 study by NASBE and asked: what has changed in ten years, and what are new challenges facing state level policy makers?

The  report identified key issues facing rural education:

  • High percentage of children living in poverty, especially minority children
  • Insufficient funding
  • Educator retention and support
  • Limited and uneven access to technologies such as broadband
  • Isolation of small communities and schools

Despite these challenges the report observes, “rural schools continue to outperform their urban peers in achievement, graduation and other outcomes.” (p. 9)

The report urges rural education to capitalize on assets already present in rural communities rather than seeking to identify deficits and correct them. “Residents in rural areas have stronger, longer term relationships. In many rural areas, a sense of loyalty and attachment to communities underpins educational interventions that can benefit students.”  (p. 12-13)

States can assist rural schools in leveraging their assets by focusing on four areas of policy development:

  • Technology Access and Training
  • Partnerships and Collaborations
  • Flexible Funding
  • Capacity Building

Read the full report.