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Rural Colorado school districts get high marks for diversity, low for spending

Colorado’s rural districts are more diverse than most in the nation, with nearly a third of students coming from minority families.

That’s the message from the latest “Why Rural Matters” report from the Rural School and Community Trust, a rural education advocacy organization. The report ranked states on metrics of student backgrounds and district practices in rural districts across the county, as well as state policies that impact rural schools. A high score means that issue should be of top priority for action; a low score means

Colorado got high marks for levels of education among rural families and unemployment rates. Over 90 percent of rural adults held a high school diploma and fewer were unemployed than in most states.

And the state had relatively low poverty levels, as well. Just over one in ten students qualified for Title I federal funds for low income students, as compared with more than one in three in neighboring New Mexico.

However, the state’s funding for its rural schools got poor marks, ranking among the worst states in the nation for how much it spends on students and pays its teachers. But the way schools spent that money received a better grade: they spent much more money on instruction than on transportation — a notoriously expensive proposition for diffuse rural areas.

For more on the research techniques and findings, the full report is available here.