Achievement Gaps in Rural Schools: What the Research Says

Achievement Gaps in Rural Schools:
What the Research Says
Penny B. Howell
The University of Louisville
Used the following keywords to identify
research articles:
Rural Education
Achievement Gap(s)
Students with Disabilities
Very little research is published on rural
school education with regard to
achievement(Walsh, 2005).
 This is acknowledged within the research
with a call for a more systematic
examination/exploration of how to close
achievement gaps in rural schools among
all groups(Walsh, 2005).
General Findings
68% of all rural school(nationwide) report
significant gaps within their student
populations(Zhang, 2008)
 The largest gaps exist among students
with disabilities(Zhang, 2008).
 These gaps are recognized as the hardest
gap to close(Zhang, 2008).
How to close the gaps
The number one factor that contributes to
closing the achievement gaps is TEACHER
QUALITY(Zhang, 2008; Missouri K-16
Task Force, 2002; Jaekyung, 2001; Marshall,
2009; Meehan, Cowley, Schumacher,
Hauser, Croom, 2003).
Findings (Meehan et. al. 2003)
Six areas of consideration:
1. Use of classroom time
2. Presence or use of instructional
3. Climate and tone of classroom
4. Expectations and Feedback
5. Quality of Instruction
6. Level of Instruction
Use of classroom time
Schools with minimal gaps had classrooms
that used time more efficiently and
effectively(Meehan, et. al. 2003; Zhang,
Less time on administrative routines
More time on instruction(24.5 more hours per year)
More student-led activities(58 more hours per year)
Effective management techniques (instructional time, pacing of
Instructional Resources
Textbooks and the use of a variety of
materials were discovered more in
minimum-gap schools.
Classroom climate/tone
The climate in the minimum-gap school
classrooms was more cheerful and
inviting, open and risk-free, and had less
distracting external noises/interruptions.
 The teachers in minimum-gap school
classrooms showed a sense of humor
more than their counterparts in large-gap
Expectations and Feedback
Teachers communicated high
expectations to their students, conducted
formal and/or informal assessments of
their students and also provided
immediate and corrective feedback to
Quality of Instruction
Teachers utilize the principles of effective
instruction(organizing information orderly,
effective transitions between topics,
restating essential principles, advanced
organizers and helping students recall
prior knowledge).
Level of Instruction
Consistently relating content to students’
 Giving students responsibility for their
Student engagement
Student centered instruction
Welcoming environment(academically,
intellectually and physically safe)
High expectations
Formal/informal assessments
Immediate and corrective feedback
Connecting school and community(making
content relevant to students)
One last thought….
“Gap-closing schools invested in teacher
collaboration, setting aside time during
the weekly school schedule for teachers
to meet…to discuss data-related
strategies.” (Walsh, 2005)

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