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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

Chapter 3. Resources for public schools

The indicators in this chapter describe major fiscal, physical, curricular, and workforce conditions in rural public schools. The indicators highlight the fact that rural public schools depend more on state funding than city and suburban schools (which tend to receive a greater proportion of their funding from local sources) and that rural public schools spend more per student than public schools in cities, suburbs, and towns when adjusted for geographic cost differences (indicators 3.1 and 3.2). Rural public schools also have lower pupil-to-teacher ratios than schools in other locales (indicator 3.6). Compared to city public schools, rural public schools have lower average numbers of students per school counselor, social worker, school psychologist, and special education instructional aides (indicator 3.12).

Compared with public high school students in cities and suburbs, those in rural areas have less access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses or programs, but about the same access to dual credit courses (indicator 3.4). In rural public schools, elementary and secondary students had slightly greater access to instructional computers with Internet connectivity than students in city and suburban schools (indicator 3.5).

Public school teachers in rural areas also differ in some ways, on average, from those in other locales. Compared with public school teachers in cities, those in rural areas have more years of experience and are less racially and/or ethnically diverse (indicators 3.7 and 3.8). Public school teachers in rural areas earn less, on average, than their peers in towns, suburbs, and cities, even after adjusting for geographic cost differences (indicator 3.10). In addition, their perception of their work tends to differ: rural public school teachers generally report student behavioral problems as less frequent in their schools than teachers across the nation as a whole (indicator 3.9). Also, a larger proportion of rural teachers than teachers in other locales report being satisfied with the teaching conditions in their school, though a smaller proportion of rural teachers than suburban teachers report being satisfied with their salaries (indicator 3.9).