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Huang, Gary G.; Weng, Stanley; Zhang, Fengyu; & Cohen, Michael P. (1997). Outmigration among Rural High School Graduates: The Effect of Academic and Vocational Programs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19(4), 360-372.


Although rural communities have pressing needs for educated youth, rural schools are criticized for training students with urban-oriented labor skills that facilitate rural-to-urban migration. Some analysts see such schooling contributing to the rural community's decline. Educators and policymakers concerned about rural areas need to know what kind of school programs help retain educated youth in rural areas. Research on the comparative effectiveness of different curriculum programs in retaining youth in the community can inform the program development for rural schools. This report presents a study that addressed the issue with data from a national longitudinal study, the High School and Beyond (HS&B) of the National Center for Education Statistics. With two-level hierarchical logit modeling that decomposed the variance into school- and individuallevels components, we examined the post-school outmigration pattern in connection with students' coursework (at the individual level) and curriculum program enrollment (at the school level). We focused on the effects on outmigration of the academic program and the vocational program measured at the two levels, adjusting for the effects of the local labor market condition and student sociodemographic background and test scores. We also introduced interaction terms to determine the specific effects of curriculum on rural school average outmigration. The results revealed that, controlling for the effects of local labor market and student background and academic achievement, outmigration was positively related to schools' emphasis on academic programs and students' high credits in the academic curriculum. To clarify the possible confounding relationship between outmigration and college attendance, we further analyzed data of youth that had not gone to college four years after high school. Essentially, the same pattern was found among this subsample of noncollege-goers. Implications for curriculum development were suggested based on the results and other perspectives regarding curriculum reform.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis


Huang, Gary G.
Weng, Stanley
Zhang, Fengyu
Cohen, Michael P.