Urban Florida students have higher participation rates in college-level courses in high school, but they’re less likely to earn credit in those classes than their rural classmates, according to a survey of a handful of Florida schools.
StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and NPR, looked at 10 Florida high schools, half of which were in urban counties and half in rural. They grouped rural and urban schools receiving similar grades for state performance (“A” through “F”). They then looked at students’ participation and performance in college-level courses.
They found urban schools had better participation rates but rural schools had better performance. The difference in the average performance rate varied from five to 36 percentage points.
Why did those rural schools outperform urban ones? The story offered two potential explanations: 1. Rural students only take one or two college-level classes at a time, and 2. Rural students have smaller class sizes.
Interestingly, rural high school officials say they can’t offer as many college-level courses as urban high schools, according to the story. Those kinds of classes include Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment.
For those interested in knowing how the access in their Florida county compares with the rest of the state, the story also included an interactive map with that data.
These findings made me wonder about whether a broader, national study on this issue would yield the same results, especially because rural students lag the national average for college enrollment rates. Only 27 percent of rural students enroll in college compared with 34 percent nationally.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.