The scholastic achievements of students in a sample of schools participating in
the rural dimension of a programme addressing educational disadvantage were
examined and compared to those in the urban dimension. Rural students
performed significantly better than urban students in both English reading and
mathematics. This could not be explained by the lower concentration of poverty in rural areas, or by the smaller size of many of the rural schools. Further analysis indicated that relationships between socioeconomic characteristics and achievement were weaker in rural areas than in urban areas, suggesting that rural students are less susceptible to the effects of poverty. Data from parent, student, and teacher questionnaires revealed that rural students received higher levels of home support and participated in fewer unstructured extra-curricular activities than their urban counterparts.