An extended body of research has documented the outmigration of the "best and brightest" youth from rural areas. Some of this scholarship has suggested that rural schools and educators may be complicit in this process as they devote extra attention and resources to the highest achieving students-those most likely to leave their rural communities after high school. Using data from a national multimethod study, we find mixed support for this hypothesis. To the contrary, our data suggest that the highest-achieving rural students are among those with the greatest community attachment, and that student perceptions of local economic conditions are far more influential in shaping postsecondary residential aspirations than the advice of educators, or the poverty level of the school.
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