Factors affecting minority education and rural economic development.

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Reising, Robert W., Douglas W. Schell, and Richard Vance. “Factors affecting minority education and rural economic development.” The Clearing House 65.5 (May/June 1992): 298-301.


Reising and his coauthors investigated the connections among rural  Southern minority education and economic development, using  student samples from Robeson County high schools as test cases.  The authors' concern is that in the rural South, communities are challenged to recruit businesses for economic development without a  strong public school education for their labor source; but they cannot fund their schools adequately without the taxes provided by  a strong economic base. 

The researchers tested students for presence of  three characteristics of entrepreneurs: self-efficacy, need for achievement, and degree of acculturation into the dominant  society. Their sample consisted of 106 students from two Robeson  County high schools. Sixty-one students were Native American;  thirty-three, African American. The control group of 32  twelfth-grade students had verbal SAT scores in four "bands" stretching between 200 and 800. Thirty-two female students were  either pregnant or already mothers. Thirty-two students had been identified by school counselors as high-risk. Ten students were  freshmen or sophomores at Pembroke State University. 

All students completed a 40-item self-efficacy test, a 250-item multiple choice cultural literacy test, and a writing sample which was scored using a locally developed, six point “holistic-scoring” rubric. Student scores were low on need for achievement, with an average of 2.4 out of 6.  Forty-four percent of Native Americans scored 2 or below. In the smaller high school, need for achievement was significantly higher. The average self-efficacy score was 14.6, putting the sample in the average range (9-16). Of concern was the fact that 33% of students scored 17 or higher and 14% score 8 or lower.
These figures indicate that twice the national average had high scores and less than half the national average had low scores. A high score (17 or above) indicates that the person sees life more as a game of chance and does not believe personal skills have any impact. Sixty-three percent of students scoring 2 or less on need for achievement believed they will earn a salary of $30,000 or higher (1991 dollars). Only 7% of those on their way to, or in, college planned to stay in Robeson County. Sixty-three percent of the student mothers and high-risk students either planned to stay in Robeson County or weren't sure.

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