ERIC Number: ED347675
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Apr-22
What Do We Know about School Size? What Should We Know?
Fowler, William J., Jr.
For over 3 decades, American public secondary schools have become progressively larger. High school seniors once typically attended a school of 400 or fewer students; the majority of today's seniors graduate from a school with over 500 students. Although a 1964 Kansas study showed that small schools are superior to larger ones, James Conant's 1967 study extolling the virtues of comprehensive or larger schools (over 750 students) supported the notion of school consolidation and larger school size Recent research has found smaller elementary schools beneficial to student achievement, but school size research at the secondary level has been virtually overlooked. This review examines the effects of secondary-school size upon student outcomes. After outlining the current numbers and sizes of high schools, the paper examines outcomes such as student attitudes, achievement, voluntary participation, and the enduring effects of education. The paper also examines school-size effects upon curriculum, but omits the rural school consolidation, optimum school size, and optimum per-pupil expenditure literature. Conant advocates will be disappointed by the findings. Monk and Haller found that curricular adequacy was reached at a small high school level (that is, a graduating class of 100). Large secondary schools with a graduating class above 750 appear to have deleterious effects on student attitudes, achievement, and voluntary participation. (39 references) (MLH)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 20-24, 1992).