Mississippi may have shown the most improvement in this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, but in the state’s rural areas, one in four students lives in poverty, the graduation rate is below the national average, and few students enter college with Advanced Placement credit.
That’s why it ranks as the top “high-priority” state in “Why Rural Matters,” a report released Thursday by the Rural School and Community Trust, the College Board and AASA/The School Superintendents Association.
In the most recent NAEP math and reading results, students in rural districts slightly outperform those in non-rural areas, but within many of those states, there are large gaps in performance between poor and non-poor students in rural areas.
Nearly one in five students in the U.S. — about 9.3 million — attend a rural school, and many districts have high rates of poverty and student mobility. States in the West — Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Colorado and Idaho — have the highest student mobility rates in rural areas.
The authors also suggest issues such as childhood trauma, including abuse, neglect and parents’ opioid abuse, might be worse in rural areas when compared to non-rural. Meanwhile, services such as developmental screenings and nutrition programs are more limited in rural communities.