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Education

Education in Rural Communities

Data about education illustrate the prevalence of various education levels of adults and the educational experience of young people in a community. These data can inform our expectations about the Human Capital potential in the area.

Excerpted from: Gibbs, Robert M. 1998. College Completion and Return Migration among Rural Youth. In Robert M. Gibbs, Paul L. Swaim, and Ruy Teixeira (eds.), Rural Education and Training in the New Economy: The Myth of the Rural Skills Gap (61-80). Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

The Valley Library

The Valley Library on the campus of
Oregon State University:
Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

"Going off to college is often a decisive event in a person's life course. College opens the door to a world of expanded opportunity, of rewarding careers, and of stable, livable earnings. For rural high school graduates, more so than urban, the decision to attend college commits them to making choices about whether to leave home and, if so, whether to return. Despite the potential rewards, rural students face more obstacles getting to college and have more trouble reaping the benefits if they choose to come home. Undoubtedly this explains in part why the proportion of rural adults with college degrees grew more slowly than that among urban adults during the 1980s (a 2 percent rise versus 5 percent), even though average years of schooling were converging."

"For many rural places, the loss of young adults who attend college is the primary agent of human capital change. Indeed, for rural counties the connection between education and migration presents a dilemma: do they educate their children well, only to have them leave? Earlier chapters in this volume have uncovered many positive qualities of rural schools. Teachers are often more satisfied with their work environment than their urban counterparts, class sizes are smaller, extracurricular problems are fewer -- and students seem to perform as well in the countryside as in the city. But if high achievers from good schools are more likely to go away to college, the best efforts of jurisdictions to improve local labor quality through education policies are compromised. Contrarily, if achievement is less likely to be extended to further education, rural individuals suffer diminished prospects..."

"The challenge for rural areas is to help their youth use high school achievement as a springboard to more education and to encourage further the high-skill economy that will make graduates' decision to return an easy one."

Explore on Your Own!

Are there differences in 5th and 8th grade standardized test scores between urban and rural communities in Oregon and Siskiyou County, California? How does educational attainment in your community differ from communities close by? Why do you think this might be?

Launch the Communities Reporter Tool

Education-Related Terms

Using the tools of the Communities Reporter you can examine trends in education across the state among the following variables:

  • High School Dropout Rate:

    Formula: ([total # of drop outs]/[total # enrolled as of October 1])*100
    Source: Oregon Department of Education

  • Standardized Test Scores: The percentage of 5th and 8th graders who met or exceeded the required reading and math scores on the state standardized test.
    Source: Oregon Department of Education

  • Educational Attainment: The percentage of the population age 25+ with High School equivalency or greater education, and the percentage of the population age 25+ with 4-year degree or greater education.

    Formula: ([# people over 25 with high school equivalent + # with some college + # with associate's + # with 4-year degree + # with master's + # with professional degree+ # with doctorate]/[total population over 25])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

    Formula: ([# people over 25 with 4-year degree + # with master's + # with professional degree+ # with doctorate]/[total population over 25])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

  • Children Ready to Learn: The percentage of children entering school that meet readiness standards in six developmental dimensions (physical well-being, language use, approach to learning, cognition and general knowledge, motor development and social/emotional development), as assessed by Kindergarten teachers. 2004 data used for 2005.
    Source: Oregon Department of Education, as reported by Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Report

Sources

Gibbs, Robert M. 1998. College Completion and Return Migration among Rural Youth. In Robert M. Gibbs, Paul L. Swaim, and Ruy Teixeira (eds.), Rural Education and Training in the New Economy: The Myth of the Rural Skills Gap (61-80). Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

Authored by Lena Etuk, Social Demographer, Oregon State University Extension Service (2008)