Andy Smarick, a researcher at the R Street Institute, a free-market oriented think tank, said he used to rely heavily on test scores, but realized that tests leave out critical information, such as whether or not students are prepared to be good citizens.
“Not all that can be counted counts. Not all that counts can be counted,” said Smarick, a former president of the Maryland State Board of Education.
Smarick, who co-edited a book about rural education called “No Longer Forgotten,” said geographic location also influences what kind of access students have to opportunity.
Smarick said rural areas are similar to urban areas in experiencing higher concentrations of poverty, but there’s also “a view that outsiders want to come in and take over.”
Rural students are more likely to graduate from high school, but less likely to go to college than students from urban areas.
“In a rural community it’s not an idle worry that if everyone goes off to college, they won’t come back and the community will die,” Smarick said.