Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jasmine R. Renner

Committee Members

Louise L. MacKay, James H. Lampley, Jack Rhoton


The purpose of this quantitative study was to compare the achievement of rural students on the 8th grade mathematics Virginia Standards of Learning assessments to urban students in Virginia. The variables of school size and socioeconomic status, as expressed by percentage of free or reduced lunch populations was also considered. The population consisted of 294 middle schools in Virginia. Data were gathered from the 2003-2004 school year. Several t-tests for independent samples and analysis of variance were used to identify the relationship between variables.

The study showed no significant differences in 8th grade mathematics SOL scores between rural and urban schools. When suburban schools were included in the study, higher math scores were seen in suburban schools. The study showed a significant difference in 8th grade mathematics SOL scores in schools with student populations larger than 750 students when compared to schools with student populations less than 750. Schools with a percentage of free or reduced price lunch students higher than the state average (33%) showed significantly lower 8th grade mathematics SOL scores than schools with a percentage of free or reduced price lunch students less than 33%, regardless of school location.

The results of this study indicate that Virginia educators should consider the need for policies and procedures which reflect the unique characteristics and challenges that face rural schools. School improvement practices in Virginia's public school systems will continue to focus on higher standards and greater accountability. As schools move toward meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, rural schools will continue to face challenges of funding, geographic isolation, and a lack of qualified teachers. The results of this study also indicate similarities in rural and urban schools in Virginia, in terms of student achievement and socioeconomic status. School leaders need to focus on meeting the needs of students, whether those students are in rural, urban, or suburban schools.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.