The sparse representation from schools in the South and Midwest, and complete absence of states with large rural populations—such as Montana, Mississippi, and Arkansas—reflects the growing national concern over the digital divide between geographically and economically varied communities.
Students attending schools in cities and suburbs have access to more advanced math courses than those in rural schools, according to a 2009 report by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.
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With nearly a quarter of U.S. students attending rural schools, the lack of access to STEM courses in high school can impact the rest of their academic and work lives.
"The lack of access to advanced mathematics courses facing students from rural areas and small towns limits their opportunities to major in mathematics-related fields in college, and subsequently embark on STEM careers," the report says.
Filling the demand for digitally literate workers, and reaching the president's goal of 1 million STEM graduates, will require students from all backgrounds—rural, urban, low-income, and high-income—to get hooked on science and technology.
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