Special Education

Report: Rural Pupils More Likely to Be in Special Education

By Christina A. Samuels — May 24, 2005 3 min read

Children in rural America are 60 percent more likely than their nonrural peers to be placed in special education programs in kindergarten, according to an analysis of 22,000 pupils that was sponsored by a research center at Mississippi State University.

There are also wide disparities in school readiness when rural children are evaluated by race, according to the report from the university’s National Center for Rural Early Childhood Learning Initiatives. About 8 percent of rural black children were proficient at identifying the beginning sounds of words, compared with 22 percent of nonrural black children. About 26 percent of rural white children had the letter-sound skill, compared with 40 percent of nonrural white children.

The study, “Preliminary Rural Analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort,” is available from the National Center for Rural Early Childhood Learning Initiatives at Mississippi State University.

Early-education programs based in centers also appeared to be less available to rural children, compared with children in more densely populated areas. According to the analysis, 35 percent of rural white children and 14 percent of rural black children attended an early-education program in the year before kindergarten, compared with 37 percent of nonrural black children and 54 percent of nonrural whites.

The findings are just part of a series of reports to be released by the Mississippi State research program, said Cathy Grace, the director of the national center. The reports are intended to address a dearth of research into the lives of rural children, she said.

“Our hope is that we can get people to start to talk first and then move into action,” Ms. Grace said. The findings are scheduled to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the Fairfax, Va.-based Society of Prevention Research. Future analyses will focus on such topics as professional development of early-childhood teachers, parental mental health, and mental-health services for families.

Early-Childhood Data

The analysis, which examines children who entered kindergarten in the 1998-99 school year, draws on the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics under the U.S. Department of Education. The longitudinal study has compiled details on those children for a wide range of family, school, community, and individual characteristics.

The National Center for Rural Early Childhood Learning Initiatives asked Child Trends, a Washington-based research organization, to compile the data for the analysis. For the analysis, the category “rural” was based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which includes places of fewer than 2,500 people outside urban areas, as well the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study’s definition that includes small towns of 25,000 or fewer residents.

Several positive aspects of rural life for young students appear in the analysis. Rural children are more likely than nonrural pupils to be in kindergarten classes of 15 or fewer children. They also are more likely to live in safe neighborhoods, and those with noncustodial or nonresident parents are more likely to stay in contact with them.

The analysis does not discuss causes for the disparities between rural and nonrural children. Ms. Grace suggested that rural children, who are more likely than nonrural children to be poor, may have parents who are working minimum-wage jobs and more than one job.

“They may have different people coming in and being the care providers,” she said. “The stability is not there.”

Such factors may play a part in rural children’s academic disadvantage when they start school, compared with their nonrural peers.

Bob Mooneyham, the executive director of the National Rural Education Association, an organization of teachers, administrators, and researchers that is based in Norman, Okla., said the report’s findings are not surprising.

“I wouldn’t take issue with that number at all,” Mr. Mooneyham said last week, referring to the figure that rural children are 60 percent more likely to be placed in special education when they start school. “It’s a poverty issue,” he said, “and it points to the need for the states and the federal government to start paying attention to the needs of rural children.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education What the Research Says Most Students With Disabilities Still Attend Remotely. Teachers Say They're Falling Behind
A new survey finds that students with disabilities are struggling in virtual classes, even with added support from teachers.
3 min read
Image shows a young femal student working on a computer from phone, interfacing with an adult female.
Getty
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Special Education Whitepaper
A Comprehensive Guide to the IEP Process
Download this guide to learn strategies for bringing together all stakeholders to plan an IEP that addresses the whole child; using relia...
Content provided by n2y
Special Education What Biden's Pick for Ed. Secretary Discussed With Disability Rights Advocates
Advocates for students with disabilities want Biden to address discipline and the effects of COVID-19 on special education.
2 min read
Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, as Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, look on.
Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 23, 2020, as Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, look on.
Carolyn Kaster/AP
Special Education Schools Struggled to Serve Students With Disabilities, English-Learners During Shutdowns
The needs of students with IEPs and English-language learners were not often met after the pandemic struck, says a federal report.
3 min read
Young boy wearing a mask shown sheltering at home looking out a window with a stuffed animal.
Getty