Teachers and Teaching Conditions in Rural Texas


Last Updated: June 01, 2004
 

Teachers and Teaching Conditions in Rural Texas

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By Lorna Jimerson
Almost half a million children attend schools in rural Texas. Though this population is large, more than 80% of Texans live in urban and suburban areas, making it easy for rural students to be lost in educational policy discussions. This report investigates the extent to which the educational needs of rural students are being met in one crucial area of education in Texas: the quality of the teaching corps and the conditions under which they teach.

Our research reveals substantial deficits in offering rural students in Texas an excellent education and in meeting their educational needs. The study examines more than 100 relevant indicators, grouped into four categories or gauges. Gauge I looks at the characteristics of rural students and communities. Gauge II focuses on characteristics of the present educator corps. The third gauge examines selected conditions of rural Texas districts that can be modified by policy (such as staffing patterns). The last gauge centers on issues related to teacher professional development.

In general, we focus on factors that impact student learning and that can be improved, when necessary, by thoughtful policies. We present data, primarily from the School and Staffing Survey, 1999-2000, and compare it to rural areas of other states and non-rural areas within Texas. These comparisons offer a comprehensive picture of the conditions and challenges of rural Texas education.