ERIC Number: ED441656
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-May
Reference Count: N/A
Rural Schools: Diverse Needs Call for Flexible Policies. Policy Brief.
Arnold, Michael L.
The development of effective policies to improve rural schools is impeded by the lack of a consistent definition of "rural" and a paucity of good rural education research. The argument for consolidating small rural schools into larger ones is based on the assumptions that larger school systems can achieve economies of scale that reduce per-pupil costs and that larger systems can offer better and more specialized instructional programs that improve opportunities for students. There is little evidence supporting either assumption. Research examining the relationship between high school size and student learning found that schools can be too big and too small, with the optimum size between 600 and 900 students. Recommendations to policymakers concerning rural schools include: (1) consolidation is not beneficial in most instances, but should be a local decision when considered; (2) multi-dimensional approaches are needed; (3) one-size-fits-all policies are not suited to rural schools since they are diverse and their needs differ from those of urban and suburban schools; (4) rural schools should seek assistance and technical advice; (5) policymakers should involve local stakeholders in the policy-setting process and give local communities the flexibility to carry out policies in ways that best suit their needs; and (6) state policymakers should learn more about rural schools in their state through comprehensive surveys of rural schools and periodic reviews of strategies and issues pertinent to rural schools. (Contains 13 references.) (TD)
Descriptors: Consolidated Schools, Educational Change, Educational Policy, Educational Research, Elementary Secondary Education, Policy Formation, Position Papers, Rural Schools, Rural Urban Differences, School District Autonomy, School Size
Mid-continent Research For Education and Learning, 2550 South Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014. Tel: 303-337-0990; Fax: 303-337-3005. For full text: http://www.mcrel.org/products/policy-briefs/rural.asp.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, Aurora, CO.