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Rural Graduates Earn Fewer Math Credits, Study Finds

A new study suggests that rural students face an academic disadvantage when it comes to mathematics.

Graduates of rural high schools typically earn fewer math credits than their peers at nonrural campuses, according to the study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Research in Rural Education. In addition, the data examined suggest that rural graduates tend to begin high school at a slightly lower level of math and appear to have substantially less access to Advanced Placement math courses.

The study notes that while much attention has been paid to the lower achievement and participation in math courses by certain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, it says that "another significant, but often overlooked, group is the nearly 10 million students attending schools in rural areas and small towns."

It continues: "Across high schools, students in rural areas often have experiences different from those in nonrural areas since rural schools are typically smaller in size, less likely to offer advanced coursework, and often farther from colleges or universities."

The study, co-authored by researchers Rick Anderson from Eastern Illinois University and Beng Chang from the University of Minnesota, investigated differences in math coursetaking by using data from the 2005 High School Transcript study.

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