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Rural Ed News: Lax College Preparation, and Legacy of Consolidation

Rural Georgia students less prepared for college

Georgia students from rural communities are more likely to take remedial courses in college and to score lower on the SAT than their peers from more populated areas, according to new analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Data specialist Kelly Guckian and reporter Jaime Sarrio found that 23 percent of Georgia's rural students took remedial courses in college, compared to 19.9 percent of non-rural students. That gap widened when comparing students from extremely rural districts to those in large suburban districts.

The same was true of SAT scores. Rural students scored about 50 points lower than students in non-rural districts, and the gap widened when comparing extremely rural districts to large suburban areas, according to the newspaper's analysis.

The newspaper says its findings are significant for two reasons: Students who need intensive remedial help are no longer allowed to attend schools in the University System of Georgia, and the problems affecting education in rural Georgia eventually will affect the rest of the state, including metro Atlanta. It's a story worth reading.

National research has shown rural students lag behind the rest of the country in college enrollment rates, with only 27 percent of those students going to a post-secondary institution, compared with 34 percent nationally.

Nebraska school districts fighting to survive

Nebraska has 249 school districts, about half as many as 10 years ago. Experts attribute that decline partially to a controversial piece of 2005 legislation that merged many rural school systems.

The law no longer is in effect, but many rural school districts say it's had a lasting impact that's not getting easier with ongoing financial difficulties, according to a report by KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Neb.

The two-part package focuses in part on the village of Bradshaw, which lost its school to a merger years ago.

"A few less families have moved into town than would have if the school hadn't closed," said Doug Preslicka, the village superintendent for Bradshaw, in the TV piece. "The schools are a major part of your community as far as community activities, ball games, and lots of things that go on."

The second part of the package focuses on McCool Junction Public School in McCool Junction, Neb., which has been successful in roughly doubling its enrollment to 270 students in the last 11 years, according to its superintendent. Community support has been critical in doing so.

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