ERIC Number: EJ864643
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Abstractor: As Provided
School Size: Why "Smaller" May Not Be the Answer
Stevenson, Kenneth R.
ERS Spectrum, v27 n2 p1-10 Spr 2009
School districts, and even states, striving to identify optimal school size are confounded more often than not by the conflicting research findings and theoretical arguments presented throughout the literature. Some writers adamantly declare that smaller schools are a "must" if educational opportunity is to be optimized. Others argue that school size itself has little impact on student performance, suggesting that other variables "masked" in school size are the real factors affecting student success. Yet others imply that smaller schools may make a difference in student performance, but the excessive cost to move in that direction is not warranted. They postulate that similar, if not better, results may be produced at less expense through enhanced technology, better instructional materials, and further professionalizing the teaching corps. Finally, some researchers studying school size indicate that, if school size does affect learning, its influence may vary greatly, depending upon the clientele served. The truth is, however, that the real effects of school size, if any, are not yet fully known--and may never be. While the topic has been studied extensively, the findings have been mixed, and often contradictory. Part of the reason for such varied results rests with differences in research methodologies. However, there are also some other common sense explanations as to why school size research findings diverge, sometimes significantly. This article is an inventory of factors that affect school size research findings, along with suggested implications for districts and states making decisions about how many students their schools should house.
Descriptors: School Size, Small Schools, Educational Environment, Academic Achievement, Educational Quality, Socioeconomic Influences, Family Environment, Parent Influence, Poverty, Costs, Evaluation Methods, Student Evaluation, Instructional Program Divisions
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A