ERIC Number: ED401089
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
Ongoing Dilemmas of School Size: A Short Story. ERIC Digest.
Recent national reports reinforce the growing perception that small schools are good schools. This may seem a revolution or the latest fad in schooling; however, issues of size cannot be captured in universal guidelines. This digest discusses the history of school size dilemmas to demonstrate why this is so. The earliest research literature on American school and district size reveals that questions of size revolved around two sets of justifications: administrative motives related to efficiency and economies of scale, and instructional motives concerned with effectiveness of education. These two perspectives are illustrated in the early 20th-century works of Ellwood Cubberley and Joseph Kennedy. Cubberley, who championed rural consolidation on the basis of urban experience, sought to professionalize rural education and always asked, "How large a school can be created?" Kennedy examined rural life and schools and asked how small a school could be and still remain pedagogically viable. This issue of upper and lower size limits has tended to resolve itself in the search for optimal school size. But this search may be misdirected, as emerging evidence suggests that a community's relative poverty or affluence is a likely indicator of a size-relevant variability. In this line of research, school size associated with high levels of student achievement appear to be tied to the socioeconomic status of a community. In addition, rural schools and urban schools face their own unique challenges related to school size. "House plans" that simulate small size are gaining in popularity but may not realize the benefits of small size without separate leadership and independent authority. There are no simple answers. Contains 15 references. (SV)
Descriptors: Educational History, Efficiency, Elementary Secondary Education, House Plan, Poverty, Rural Schools, School District Wealth, School Effectiveness, School Size, Small Schools, Urban Schools
ERIC/CRESS, P.O. Box 1348, Charleston, WV 25325-1348 (free).
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV.