ERIC Number: ED135507
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1976-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Economy, Efficiency, and Equality: The Myths of Rural School and District Consolidation.
Sher, Jonathan P.; Tompkins, Rachel B.
While the policy of rural school and district consolidation is not totally devoid of worth, its strengths were greatly exaggerated, its weaknesses simply ignored, and its overall merits as a strategy for educational reform grievously oversold. Despite the massive investments made on its behalf, consolidation has not dramatically alleviated the educational problems endemic to rural areas. In Vermont, the nation's most rural state, small high schools seem to be performing as well as their larger counterparts on the one available output measure, percentage of graduates. However, Coleman, Jencks, et al. maintain that consolidation is unlikely to affect either academic achievement or lifetime earnings, that it serves mainly to direct attention away from income redistribution and other improvement efforts. There is not a single study among 14 recent consolidation studies controlling for IQ and socioeconomic effects, which records a consistant, positive correlation between size and achievement. Consolidation opponents have failed to argue diseconomy and have, rather, argued quality of life, etc. in defense of small schools. Asserted over and over again the economy argument was initially believed and then ultimately supported by researchers who were its advocates; since performance outcomes are hard to measure and harder yet to agree upon, the advocates ignored such outcomes as ability to relate well, and focused upon the more measurable outcomes (buildings, equipment, etc.). (JC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.