ERIC Number: ED361164
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992
Reference Count: N/A
On Local Control: Is Bigger Better?
Walberg, Herbert J.
The United States ranks first in the world among major industrialized nations in school costs and ranks nearly last in student achievement. Three massive changes in state educational policies during the last half century may account for this low educational productivity. From 1940 to 1990: (1) the number of U.S. school districts decreased 87 percent (from 117,108 to 15,367), while average district enrollment increased over 10 times from 217 students to 2,637; (2) the number of public schools decreased 69 percent (from approximately 200,000 to 62,037), while average enrollment increased over 4 times from 127 students to 653; and (3) the percentage of school revenues from state funding increased from 30 to 48 percent, now exceeding local revenues. Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and federal reports were analyzed for 37 states and the District of Columbia. Average state scores for grade 8 mathematics proficiency were significantly and negatively related to average school size, average district size, and percentage of educational funding (excluding federal funds) paid by the state. This finding is supported by a literature review covering research on economies and "diseconomies" of scale, the relationship of organizational size to efficiency and productivity, the growth of state educational bureaucracies, the influence of school size on educational outcomes, and the effects of "remote" educational funding on local control and accountability. (SV)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress