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Small Schools: Great Strides

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Publication Date: September 2000

Publisher(s): Bank Street College of Education

Author(s): Esther Mosak; Robert M. Gladden; Michelle Fine; Sherry P. King; Linda C. Powell; Nicole E. Holland; Patricia A. Wasley

Series:

Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Education (Schools)
Education (Statistics, research, and research methods and financing)
Education (Education)
Education (Curriculum)

Keywords: small schools; student performance ; elementary level

Type: Report

Coverage: Illinois

Abstract:

This study finds that reconfiguring large urban schools into smaller schools is having a positive impact on student performance, school climate, professional collegiality, and parent satisfaction. It suggests that even though size alone is not the key to all that ails urban schools, integrating small schools into a comprehensive reform strategy can help improve student outcomes.

The study looked at the performance of 143 small schools created in Chicago between 1990 and 1997. Students in these schools had higher grade point averages, lower dropout rates, and better attendance than did students in larger schools. They failed fewer courses and demonstrated increased progress toward graduation. At the elementary level, fewer students were retained in the same grades than in larger elementary schools.

It recommend that policymakers provide the funds necessary to reduce the size of the country's largest schools and take steps to reduce the bureaucratic constraints that prevent educators from creating smaller schools that are responsive to local student and family needs.