Rural Education

School districts are defined by the National Center for Education Statistics as Urban, Suburban, Town, or Rural based on that district’s proximity to principal cities, urban areas, and urban clusters as defined by the Census Bureau. At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, 66 of Alabama’s 133 school districts were classified as Rural.

Rural school districts face unique issues, such as teacher recruitment and retention, and limited access to programs, such as Advanced Placement. According to the Why Rural Matters 2011-2012 report published by The Rural School and Community Trust, 52% of students in Alabama’s rural schools qualify for free or reduced-price meals.


  • National Center for Education Statistics: Rural Education in America – Here you will find data about all aspects of Rural Education: graduation rate, student achievement, teacher salary, discipline, use of technology, etc.
  • The Rural School and Community Trust – The Rural School and Community Trust regularly publishes policy briefs and research articles dealing with Rural Education, and every year they publish a “Why Rural Matters” report that analyzes the state of rural school districts across the country and calls to attention the unique needs of rural schools.
  • National Research Center on Rural Education Support – The National Research Center on Rural Education Support (NRCRES) receives funding from the Institute for Educational Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education, and they are based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This site contains many research articles on all topics of Rural Education.
  • Journal of Research in Rural Education – The Journal of Research in Rural Education (JRRE) is based in the Center on Rural Education and Communities, located within Penn State University’s College of Education. It is a peer-reviewed, open access e-journal that publishes research covering all facets of Rural Education and related policy.