ERIC Number: ED462733
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Nov
Are Small Schools Better? School Size Considerations for Safety & Learning. Policy Brief.
New studies from the 1990s have strengthened an already notable consensus on school size: smaller is better. This policy brief outlines research findings on why size makes a difference, how small is small enough, effective approaches to downsizing, and key barriers. No agreement exists at present on optimal school size, but research suggests a maximum of 300-400 students for elementary schools and 400-800 for secondary schools. Researchers focusing on the interaction between poverty and enrollment size offer a rule of thumb: the poorer the school, the smaller its size should be. Major benefits derived from small schools include: students learn well and often better; violence and behavior problems diminish, and attendance is higher and dropouts fewer. Poor and minority students benefit the most. Positive changes that smallness invites include the forming of strong personal bonds, parent and community involvement, simplicity and focus, improved instructional quality, improved teacher working conditions and job satisfaction, and built-in accountability. Barriers to downsizing include iconic notions of school; lack of time, resources, and technical assistance; system impediments; and cost concerns. State and district policies can support downsizing by providing incentives for creating small schools and removing disincentives that may exist in law or policy. (RT)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Attendance Patterns, Educational Environment, Elementary Secondary Education, Poverty, School Safety, School Size
WestEd, 730 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107-1242 ($1). Tel: 877-493-7833 (Toll Free); Web site: http://www.WestEd.org.
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: WestEd, San Francisco, CA.