The Rural Advantage
Rural school districts are as diverse as the communities they serve and the students they educate. Their unique histories, cultures, and landscapes result in community-based schools that defy categorization. Still, there are common themes:
- Rural schools are community hubs and bring people together.
- Rural schools encourage student participation and ownership.
- Rural schools serve as centers for the arts.
- Rural schools are catalysts for the Farm to School movement.
Lorna Jimerson's research-based “The Hobbit Effect” highlighted the real benefits of rural schools. Jimerson’s important work (2006) summarized a wide range of findings supporting the efficacy of smaller schools. For example, Jimerson reports that when socio-economic factors are taken into account, children in smaller schools are academically more successful, have higher graduation rates, take more advanced courses, and participate in extra-curricular activities to a higher degree. Overall, Jimerson's extensive review of research found ten "research-based reasons” why small schools work:
- There is greater participation in extra-curricular activities, and that is linked to academic success.
- Small schools are safer.
- Kids feel they belong.
- Small class size allows more individualized instruction.
- Good teaching methods are easier to implement.
- Teachers feel better about their work.
- Mixed-ability classes avoid condemning some students to low expectations.
- Multiage classrooms promote personalized learning and encourage positive social interactions.
- Smaller districts mean less bureaucracy.
- More grades in one school alleviate many problems of transitions to new schools.
Why does your small school work? What is your rural advantage? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story!
Read all of The Hobbit Effect: Why Small Works in Public Schools. This report is located on the Rural School and Community Trust's website.