Comparative Analysis of Rural to Urban Middle Schools' Results on the STAAR Reading Exam

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Spring 2019


The purpose of this study was to determine if a selected set of school-related variables predicted whether middle schools on opposite ends of the school size spectrum—rural and major urban—were able to meet or exceed the average passing rate on the 8th grade State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) reading exams. The Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) was the main source of these data. Large, urban, traditional middle schools were compared to rural middle schools that were located within the same educational service centers. The 80 middle schools identified for the study were randomly selected from the Northeast Region of the state—40 middle schools were selected from districts classified by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as major urban and 40 middle schools were selected from districts classified by TEA as rural. The selected variables (average teacher experience, teacher‒student ratio, average teacher salary, percent of African American student enrollment, percent of Hispanic student enrollment, percent of White student enrollment, percent of disciplinary placements, attendance rates, percent of at-risk students, and percent of students on free or reduced lunch) selected for the study were those commonly known to educators as having the potential to impact student achievement in schools. The researcher used discriminant analysis to investigate which variable or variables in middle schools predict whether they meet or exceed the state’s average passing rate on the 8th-grade STAAR reading test. Evaluation of enrollment characteristics indicated major contrasts within and between rural and urban middle schools. In comparison to urban middle schools, more rural middle schools in the study met the state’s academic achievement standards on the 8th-grade STAAR reading exam.


Ray Thompson

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