NCEF Resource List: School Size/Small Schools
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Information on the issue of optimum school facility size, and class and classroom size, compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.

References to Books and Other Media

New Schools, Overcrowding Relief, and Achievement Gains in Los Angeles – Strong Returns from a $19.5 Billion Investment Adobe PDF
Welsh, William; Coglan, Erin; Fuller, Bruce; Dauter, Luke
(School of Education, Stanford University, Aug 2012)
By tracking thousands of students who moved from overcrowded to new facilities over the 2002-2008 period, Berkeley researchers discovered gains equivalent on average to about 35 additional days of instruction each year for elementary-school pupils. Gains are most robust (65 days) for elementary students who escaped severe overcrowding by moving to a new school. Researchers found inconsistent and weaker gains for high school students. p12

Sustained Positive Effects on Graduation Rates Produced by New York City’s Small Public High Schools of Choice
Bloom, Howard S. and Unterman, Rebecca
(MDRC, 2012)
Between fall 2002 and fall 2008, the New York City school district closed 23 large failing high schools (with graduation rates below 45 percent), opened 216 new small high schools (with different missions, structures, and student selection criteria), and implemented a centralized high school admissions process that assigns over 90 percent of the roughly 80,000 incoming ninth-graders each year based on their school preferences. In June 2010, MDRC released a report on the effectiveness of these small schools of choice. That report demonstrated that SSCs are markedly improving academic progress and graduation prospects, particularly for disadvantaged students. This policy brief extends the analysis by a year, adding information on high school graduation rates for the 2006 cohort and providing a fifth year of follow-up for the 2005 cohort.

Class Sizes Are Increasing, but Does It Really Matter?
Henry, Tamara
(Columbia University Teachers College, New York, NY , Aug 26, 2010)
Examines to what extent class size really matters. Conventional wisdom says smaller classes equal better education, but decades of research show the relationship between class size and student outcomes is murky. The Center on Reinventing Public Education says the effects of class-size reduction are pretty marginal, except in early grades for disadvantaged students. With coming teacher layoffs, the report claims that it probably makes sense to focus not so much on class sizes but on making sure that the teachers you keep are really effective. 7p.

Transforming the High School Experience: How New York City's New Small Schools Are Boosting Student Achievement and Graduation Rates. Adobe PDF
Bloom, Howard; Thompson, Saskia; Unterman, Rebecca; Herlihy, Corinne; Payne, Collin
(MDRC, New York, NY , Jun 2010)
Presents encouraging findings from a study of New York City's 123 small schools of choice (SSCs), providing evidence that, in roughly six years, a large system of small public high schools can be created and can markedly improve graduation prospects for many disadvantaged students. Since 2002, New York City has closed more than 20 underperforming public high schools, opened more than 200 new secondary schools. SSCs were intended to be viable alternatives to the neighborhood high schools that were closing. SSCs are small facilities that emphasize strong, sustained relationships between students and faculty. Each SSC also received start-up funding as well as assistance and policy protections from the district and other key players to facilitate leadership development, hiring, and implementation. 189p.

Small Schools: Big Reforms?
(Education Week, Bethesda, MD, 2010)
Profiles New York City's re-organization of several of its large, underperforming high schools, creating small theme-oriented academies with higher graduation rates. However, several students from closed schools transferred into other large high schools, shifting the overcrowding and lowering graduation rates at those schools. Litigation to stop the closing of schools is also covered.

Maxed Out: New York City School Overcrowding Crisis.
(Campaign for Fiscal Equality, New York, NY , May 2009)
Examines data from every school in New York City to provide an overview of the most urgently overcrowded schools and school districts, and proposes a policy framework for the Department of Education (DOE) to tackle the crisis. The report found 515 school buildings with a total enrollment of 501,632 students (approximately 48% of the 1,042,078 students enrolled in the city's public schools that year) were either overcrowded or had associated temporary structures during the 2006/07 school year based on the city's own data available in its Enrollment-Capacity-Utilization Report for the same school year. Recommendations for relief of the situation are included and extensive tables illustrate the text. 270p.

School Overcrowding: Limiting Hispanic Potential.
(United Neighborhood Organization, Chicago, IL , Apr 2009)
Reports that 69 percent of overcrowded Chicago elementary schools have enrollments that are more than 50 percent Hispanic. Also reported is that whereas Hispanic students make up 43.5 percent of public elementary school enrollment, their presence at charter schools is only 35.1 percent. 23p.

Reducing the Negative Effects of Large Schools. Adobe PDF
Duke, Daniel L.; Trautvetter, Sara
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC , 2009)
This report presents an overview of recent efforts to promote small schools by first reviewing the rationale for small schools based on recent studies linking school size and various educational outcomes, followed by arguments supporting larger schools. Succeeding sections explore the following four ways to reduce the negative effects of school size: build smaller schools; utilize satellite facilities; reallocate space in existing schools; and redesign and renovate existing schools. Focusing on the third and fourth options, the report identifies a variety of ways in which large schools are being downsized. A brief description of one such project is provided, followed by a discussion of design issues related to the subdivision of large schools into smaller units. 16p.

Joint Schools, School Facilities and Superintendents: An Alternative Approach to Address Community Public Education.
(Rockbridge County, Virginia , Dec 2008)
Reviews the recent consolidation of schools in Virginia's City of Williamsburg and James City County, as well as the sharing of a high school between the state's Lexington and Rockbridge Counties since 1992. Details of enrollment, financial, and legal arrangements are addressed, and a discussion of potential benefits of a local, system-wide consolidation is included. 6p.

Small Schools: Tackling the Dropout Crisis while Saving Taxpayer Dollars.
(Think New Mexico, Santa Fe , Summer 2008)
Details the school dropout crisis in New Mexico, the growth in size of their schools, and evidence illustrating higher achievement and student safety in small schools. Solutions proposed include limiting the size of schools and developing small "schools within schools" for existing large facilities. The concept of economies of scale in large schools is disputed, as are arguments against small schools. Includes 101 references. 32p.

Managing Maryland's Growth: Smart Growth, Community Planning and Public School Construction. Adobe PDF
(Maryland Dept. of Planning, Baltimore , Jul 2008)
Provides guidance to Maryland school districts in planning schools that support smart growth. Topics covered include walkability, bicycle access, environmental protection, high performance buildings, schools as community centers, school and site size, co-location and shared use, and energy efficiency in school transportation. Case studies accompany each topic and a model approach for school planning, location, and construction is included. 42 references complete the document. 78p.
Report NO: 2008-001

School Closing Procedure, Relating to the Public Schools of North Carolina. Adobe PDF
(Public Schools of North Carolina, School Planning Section, Raleigh , Feb 2008)
Provides a step-by-step guide to be used when school closing is contemplated, and upon which local board policy may be based. The procedure is presented in a sequential manner; however, its sections may be used separately or together as local conditions require. It is primarily intended to identify the various kinds of information to be considered, as well as the particular processes to be undertaken by the local board of education prior to closing a school. 7p.

The Little School System That Could.
Duke, Daniel
(State University Press of New York, Albany , 2008)
Examines the Manassas Park, Virginia, City Schools' 10-year turnaround from a low- performing district to one in which every school was accredited by 2005. The turnaround is largely credited to superintendent Tom DeBolt, who was hired in 1995. The author considers the district's turnaround from four organizational perspectives and addresses the critical role of professional and political leadership in overcoming the challenges of low morale, scarce resources, changing demographics, and dysfunctional school-community relations. The book offers lessons for any school system facing the challenges of low performance, underfunding, political turmoil, and a culture of low expectations, with special attention to school size and the impact of improved facilities. 182p.

Strategic Designs: Lessons from Leading Edge Small Urban High Schools. Adobe PDF
Shields, Rebis; Miles, Karen
(Education Resource Strategies, Watertown, MA , 2008)
Illustrates how nine high performing, small urban high schools across the U.S. are thinking about and organizing their resources strategically to best meet their students' most pressing needs. The report provides a look at how leaders in these schools carefully and purposefully think about how they use every staff member, each moment of the school day, and every dollar to support student learning. The report also illustrates how principals carefully select teaching staff to meet high standards and fit specific school design needs, how students spend 20% more time (on average) in school each day and 233 more days over four years on core academic compared to their peers in traditional high schools, and how teachers devote five times more hours to collaborating and professional development than local districts require. 108p.

Baltimore City's High School Reform Initiative: Schools, Students, and Outcomes. Adobe PDF
Smerdon, Becky
(The Urban Institute, Washington, DC , Dec 2007)
Presents findings from a study of Baltimore's five-year high school reform, which included breaking large schools into smaller, more autonomous units. Using administrative data, the researchers found that test scores and attendance rates were higher for students in Baltimore's innovation high schools than in the city's comprehensive or newly formed neighborhood high schools. Students in innovation and neighborhood schools also showed more stability in their enrollment than their counterparts in comprehensive schools. These findings remained after controlling for students' backgrounds and previous achievements even though students at innovation schools were more academically advantaged than their peers in other schools prior to entering high school. 31p.

Rethinking High School: Inaugural Graduations at New York City's New High Schools.
(WestEd, San Francisco, CA , 2007)
Examines 14 of New York City's new, smaller high schools that graduated their first class in June, 2006. Data indicate that attendance is high, ninth grade promotion rates are high, and a majority of students are graduating. A significant number of those graduates are applying to and being accepted by postsecondary institutions, over half of whom will be the first in their family to attend college. The report provides a snapshot of the promise and impact of these small high schools in the lives of adolescent learners from some of New York's most underserved communities. Includes ten references. 23p.

Architecture for Achievement: Building Patterns for Small School Learning.
Bergsagel, Victoria; Best, Tim; Cushman, Kathleen; McConachie, Lorne; Sauer, Wendy; Stephen, David
(Eagle Chatter Press, Mercer Island, WA , 2007)
Proposes a "pattern language" with which planners can explore architectural details that can enhance their school s design. The designs focus on smaller, more personalized learning communities that can boost student achievement. A wide range of indoor and outdoor design features are presented, organized as guiding principles for student success. These are personalized, learning-focused, collaborative, community connected, and adaptable. 156p.

Smaller, Safer, Saner Successful Schools. Adobe PDF
Nathan, Joe; Thao, Sheena
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC and Center for School Change, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. , 2007)
Provides a summary of research on small schools and shared facilities showing that, on average, smaller schools provide a safer and more challenging school environment that leads to higher academic achievement and graduation rates, fewer disciplinary problems, and greater satisfaction for families, students, and teachers. Also includes 22 case studies of public schools in 11 states, representing urban, suburban, and rural communities; district-run and charter public schools; and co-housing of almost 50 schools and social service agencies. These studies document the ability of smaller schools to improve academic achievement and behavior in safe, nurturing, and stimulating environments. The studies further suggest that sharing facilities with other organizations can enable schools to offer broader learning opportunities for students, provide higher quality services to students and their families, and present a way to efficiently use tax dollars. 68p.

What are Small Schools, Small Learning Communities, and Learning Communities of Practice?
Lippman, Peter
(American Institute of Architects, Committee on Architecture for Education, Washington, DC , Oct 2006)
Characterizes small schools, differentiates the notions about small schools from the concept of small learning communities (SLC), proposes the term "learning communities of practice (LCP)" as the larger autonomous places that can support the educational needs of 400 students. 3p.

Leading the Conversion Process. Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Converting to Small Learning Communities.
Fouts, Jeffrey; Baker, Duane; Brown, Carol; and Riley, Shirley
(Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation by Fouts & Associates, LLC. , Sep 2006)
Since 2001, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the development of small learning communities in America’s high schools with the ultimate goal of graduating students “college or work ready.” SLCs are often called houses, schools-within-a-school, or academies and have varying degrees of autonomy in the areas of budgets, hiring, and curriculum. This report reviews lessons learned from the process of converting large comprehensive high schools into small learning communities. It provides recommendations on leadership, implementation, and programs for schools considering this work. 22p.

Is Bigger Better? A Comparison of Rural School Districts. Adobe PDF
Yan, Wenfan
(Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Harrisburg, PA. , Sep 2006)
School district size is important to policymakers and educators who need to determine the most effective way to structure school organization. For more than 40 years, a growing body of research has focused on the relationship between school size and school effectiveness (Monk & Plecki, 1999). Early studies did not address the effect of school size on student performance but focused more on school expenditures (Brazer, 1959; Hirsch, 1959; Michelson, 1972). Later studies switched the focus to the relationship between school size and student achievement (Summers & Wolfe, 1977; Walberg & Fowler, 1987; White & Tweeten, 1973). This study addressed the limitations of previous literature by comparing different school district types in rural Pennsylvania to determine whether or not the structure of school districts has an impact on fiscal management, administrative capacity, and student achievement. Overall, the research did not find any evidence to support the notion that bigger districts are better districts, in terms of cost, administration or academic achievement, in rural Pennsylvania. [Author's abstract] 16p.

The Hobbit Effect: Why Small Works in Public Schools. Adobe PDF
Jimerson, Lorna
(Rural School and Community Trust, Arlington, VA , Aug 2006)
Identifies ten research-based attributes of small schools that are proven to have a positive impact on learning. The report explores the evidence of each element's impact and why it confers advantages on children. Among the attributes identified are: greater participation in extra-curricular activities, increased school safety, smaller class size, and wider grade-span configurations. The report finds that small schools intrinsically foster close relationships that not only help children feel connected to the school community and reduce alienation, but also lead to increased student learning. The close relationships inherent in small schools also have a positive impact on educators, as teachers in small schools tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, have less absenteeism, and take more responsibility for ensuring that their students are successful in school. 23p.

School Size and Student Outcomes in Kentucky's Public Schools. Adobe PDF
(Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, Frankfort , Jun 08, 2006)
Assesses the effect of size of school enrollment on state test scores, attendance, dropout, and retention rates. Scores on state assessments were typically as high or higher at large schools than those at smaller schools. Scores for middle and high school students were generally higher for those enrolled at larger schools. Scores for elementary school students attending relatively large schools were generally as high or higher than for those attending smaller schools. The differences in performance may be the result of advantages larger schools can provide such as a wider range of classes. Teachers and administrators of larger schools may also have found ways to address the negative aspects of attending a larger school, such as creating the smaller learning communities. High-performing students may seek out large schools in order to take advantage of the wider ranges of classes. Schools with high scores could also attract more students, so that performance affects size. 78p.

Small Schools on a Larger Scale: The First Three Years of the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative.
Kahne, Joseph; Sporte, Susan; de la Torre, Marisa; Easton, John
(Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago , Jun 2006)
Analyzes how small schools compare to the rest of Chicago public schools, taking into account individual- and school-level characteristics. Survey data measuring the experiences of students and teachers in these schools and school district records were used to analyze a variety of educational outcomes. It appeared that small schools are fostering more personal and supportive contexts for both teachers and students. These differences may be connected to lower dropout rates and absences that we found in the small schools, but they do not appear to be spurring increased instructional reform activity, differing instructional practices, or improved student achievement test scores. Instructional reform efforts, instructional practice, and academic test scores all appear the same at small schools as at other CPS schools serving comparable students, which is determined to be a sizable shortcoming of the reform effort. 63p.

Superintendent's Recommended Criteria for Consolidation and Rightsizing.
(District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, DC , Apr 25, 2006)
Lists the District of Columbia's criteria for school consolidation, given that enrollment declines have created considerable excess school space. Criteria for evaluating schools are according to educational value, as centers of community, neighborhood demographics, facility condition, and operational efficiency are detailed. 15p.

School Size and Its Relationship to Student Outcomes and School Climate. Adobe PDF
Stevenson, Kenneth
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC , Apr 2006)
Reviews eight school size studies performed by doctoral students and graduate faculty at the University of South Carolina. These studies examine the relationship of South Carolina school size to academic achievement and to costs per student at all grade span groupings, including elementary, middle, and high school. The studies are categorized by grade span covered, and their methodology and findings summarized. Results of the studies are varied and sometimes contradictory, and additional issues arise such as poverty, differing results in grade spans, cost versus outcomes, middle and elementary school climate factors, and variance of the South Carolina findings from those in other states. Smaller middle schools appeared to produce better student outcomes, and where larger elementary and high schools appear to perform better, there is evidence that results vary dramatically depending on the children served. Includes 23 references. 8p.

The Impact of Smaller Learning Communities as a Single-Site Initiative: a Case Study.
Baldwin, Christina
(Doctoral Dissertation, East Carolina University, Greenville , Mar 2006)
Describes one eastern North Carolina high school's initiative to implement Smaller Learning Communities as a strategy for strategic change. The study revealed that the implementation of SLC's elevated expectations within the school and community. The SLC's provided support for all stakeholders through structured systems that increased leadership capacity, self-efficacy, and personal and professional growth. As SLC's were created, learning communities formed that acted as catalysts of change within the school and district. The greatest gains in student achievement were experienced by students specifically in SLC structures. Students benefited most when SLC structures and strategies were implemented. Teachers' level of collegial support was greatest for those involved in SLC structures. Parents and community members viewed the SLC implementation as providing a specialized experience for the high school students and viewed the restructuring in a positive light. It was found that SLC implementation was very time-intensive for teachers and administrators, with SLC administration and teachers feeling isolated. Interestingly, they were deeply committed even though implementation was time-intensive. 281p.
Report NO: 3205620


Breaking the Fall: Cushioning the Impact of Rural Declining Enrollment.
Jimerson, Lorna
(Rural School and Community Trust, Arlington, VA , Feb 2006)
Highlights the role that state educational policies have in either magnifying the challenges of declining enrollment, or conversely, mitigating them. The report contains 20 policy recommendations, primarily focused on state funding formulas, but also on state support for facility projects, technology, and cooperative arrangements, as well as strictly local control over consolidation, without state incentives or interference. The recommended state and local policies can buy time and give communities and economies time to rebound and/or adjust to population and revenue loss. 17p.

Don't Supersize Me: The Relationship of Planned Construction Cost to Planned School Enrollment in the U.S.
Howley, Craig B.
(Ohio University, Athens , Oct 2005)
Presents findings of a study indicating that smaller high schools (<600 students) cost no more per student to build than large schools (>600 students), and that they actually cost less per square foot than large high schools. Based on the research, nine recommendations for planning schools of appropriate size are offered, along with four recommendations for additional research. Includes 21 references. 23p.

Academic Reform Strategy Guidelines.
(California Dept. of Education, Sacramento , Aug 31, 2005)
Presents California's requirements for school districts seeking increased state funding designated for smaller school projects. These rules itemize the required format of the application, the state review process, the elements that the project must address in the proposal, and the evaluation criteria. A list of additional print and online resources is included. 8p.

Sharing Space: Rethinking the Implementation of Small High School Reform in New York City. Adobe PDF
(Council of the City of New York , Aug 2005)
Evaluates how a sample of nine host school facilities housing 34 small schools are performing with regard to safety and the use of space. It addresses whether or not the current New York City Dept. of Education policies of housing new small schools in shared facilities with large, traditional high schools should be continued and, if not, what options should be implemented in order to ensure safe, effective schools in the reform environment. The DOE knowingly placed small schools in some of the city's most dangerous school facilities already housing "Impact Schools." Findings include that six of the nine complexes evaluated had crime rates ranging from 5% to 105% higher than average crime rates of other facilities of similar size, that the practice of housing new small schools with large struggling schools replicated problems of the large school, that tensions between large and small schools sharing facility space were fostered by disparities, such as larger class sizes and higher proportions of ELL and special needs students in large schools compared to their neighboring small schools, and that host facilities failed to meet seven of the eight components considered essential for sharing space with small schools. Details on methodology, including interviews, data analysis and school visits are included, as are 58 references. 40p.

An Analysis of Construction of Small Schools vs. Larger Schools. Adobe PDF
Brown, Scott; Johnson, Paul; Doughty, Dale; Cecil, Dan; Keck, Lyndon
(State Board of Education, Augusta, Maine , Jul 2005)
Presents results of studies in Maine indicating that a consolidated school can serve the same student population and offer the same curriculum with less square footage and thus at a reduced cost than two or more smaller schools. Operating and personnel costs are also lower in the consolidated school option, with savings approaching $3,500 per student over 40 years in Maine. As a school's enrollment decreases, the square footage and subsequent cost per student increases. Interpretation of the data by the Maine Department of Education is included. 19p.

Scaling Up the Big Picture. Summary of Findings. Adobe PDF
(Institute for Education and Social Policy, Jun 2005)
The research project describes a Providence-based non-profit organization called the Big Picture Company (BP), and its efforts to replicate its small high school design in multiple communities throughout the United States (with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). It refers implicitly also to BP's ambition (and that of the Gates Foundation) to have influence beyond these schools -- to change American high schooling in fundamental ways. The researchers wanted to know what challenges BP would encounter as it took on these tasks, and to infer from its experience what other school designers might encounter. They also wanted to document the strategies that BP might employ to manage these challenges, and to assess their relative strength. They laid out the challenges and strategies in essays, situating both with the context of other scaling-up efforts within and beyond the field of education. In the first two essays, the authors name what they take to be the seven challenges of scaling up new school designs, and illustrate five of them with data gathered from studying both the BP experience and the literature of scaling up educational and other innovations. The third essay explores the 6th challenge, the challenge of obtaining and managing resources sufficient to scale. The fourth and final essay, explores the seventh challenge -- negotiating the politics of local adoption. 171p.

Research Review: Class Size and Student Achievement.
(Center for Public Education, Apr 2005)
This analyzes the research findings of 19 recent studies on class size and academic achievement. Some researchers have not found a connection between smaller classes and higher student achievement, but most of the research shows that when class size reduction programs are well-designed and implemented in the primary grades (K-3), student achievement rises as class size drops.

Rural School Consolidation Report. Adobe PDF
Bard, Joe; Gardener, Clark; Wieland; Regi
(National Rural Education Association, University of Oklahoma, Norman , Apr 2005)
Reviews the history of and literature on rural school consolidation, defines consolidation, and addresses current research and issues related to consolidation with respect to school size, economies of scale, and student achievement. Includes 89 references. 21p.

Effects of School Size: A Review of the Literature with Recommendations. Adobe PDF
Slate, John; Jones, Craig
(University of South Carolina at Aiken , Apr 2005)
Summarizes the literature on the effects of school size to describe what is currently known about its relationship to economic efficiency, curricular diversity, academic achievement, and related variables. Two curvilinear relationships are identified: one for economic efficiency and one for educational outcomes. In both cases, increasing size initially brings positive effects but these trends are reversed as size continues to increase. The point of diminishing returns for educational outcomes occurs with fewer students than is the case for economic efficiency. Optimal school size can be defined by a range in which economic efficiency and educational outcomes both show positive relationships to larger school size. Recommendations are made to guide future research and to help educational decision-makers. Includes 89 references. 24p.

Facilities Design Considerations for Small Schools That Share a Building.
(Knowledgeworks Foundation, Cincinnati, OH , Mar 2005)
Proposes design solutions to promote the success of small schools that share buildings: dedicated space; separate entrances,lobbies, graphics, color schemes, and furnishings; flexibility; a user-driven design process; and school-community partnerships. Scheduling and other management strategies are also covered. Includes 12 references. 7p.

School Size Research: Reference List. Adobe PDF
(Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. , Feb 2005)
Compilation of research conducted between 1992 and 2003 on the subject of school size. Includes an abstract and link to the research. 9p.

Big Buildings, Small Schools: Using a Small Schools Strategy for High School Reform
(Jobs for the Future and The Education Alliance at Brown University, 2005)
This book focuses on how large, under-performing urban high schools can become learning environments characterized by academic rigor, curricular relevance, and mutually supportive relationships. This book explores how these communities are using small school development as a central strategy for improving large high schools and overhauling the way school districts do business.

Financing Excellence in the District of Columbia Public Schools.
(Council of the Great City Schools, Washington, DC , 2005)
Reports on excess capacity in the District of Columbia Public Schools, with the District having 459 students per building, compared to 682 in 45 other urban school systems studied. That difference contributed to higher costs, with $1,083 per student for maintenance and facilities costs in 2004-05, compared with $603 per student in the other urban districts; $525 per student for energy and utility costs, compared with $191 in the other systems; and $714 per student for school administrative personnel, compared with $582 in the other cities. Only 32 percent of the District's per-pupil spending went toward classroom instruction, compared with an average of 42.7 percent in the other systems, the study found. The report recommends that D.C. school officials "resize" the number of buildings and employees in the system and invest the savings in after-school tutoring and other programs designed to boost dismal student achievement. Without suggesting how much space should be eliminated, the study said the system could save $500,000 to $1.5 million a year for every building it closes. 173p.

From Large School Buildings to Small School Campuses: Orchestrating the Shift. Adobe PDF
(New Visions for Public Schools, New York, NY , 2005)
Describes the redesign of 21 mostly low-performing large New York City schools into smaller learning communities sharing space with each other and with the large schools they were formed out of. The background legislation that enabled the changes and the adaptive reuse of large buildings are described, and the footprint of the small schools is detailed and illustrated with individual floor plans reflecting building configuration and the instructional program and special uses of various classrooms. Also described is the participatory master planning process that involved teachers and students. 34p.

Quality Teaching in At-Risk Schools, Key Issue: Improving the Working Environment of Teachers. Adobe PDF
(Learning Point Associates, Naperville, IL , 2005)
Presents ten strategies for improving the work environment of teachers in at-risk schools. Facilities issues are covered in strategy five, which concerns small learning communities and small class sizes. Each strategy is accompanied by an annotated list of resources. 51p.

Small Schools Best Practices for Sharing Facilities.
(Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Chicago, IL , 2005)
Small schools are located in a variety of different environments. The majority of small schools must share a physical building with other schools and must negotiate the use of the shared space. This outlines some tips for creating more successful shared facility situations for small schools, including: ensure autonomy between schools; develop strong working relations between school leadership; communicate a commitment from the higher administration; ensure regular communication between principals; define a conflict resolution process; establish a neutral facilities coordinator; and create a shared facilities memorandum of understanding. 4p.

Rethinking High School: An Introduction to New York City's Experience.
Heubner, Tracy
(Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA , 2005)
Shares preliminary information about how the New York City Department of Education and its partners are working to create smaller, more personalized learning environments for the city's secondary students. In addition to describing the population served by the district's small schools and providing some initial data on how these students are faring in their new schools, the report also includes a broad-brush profile of one of the schools, Marble Hill School for International Studies, located in the Bronx. In the 2003-04 school year, student attendance rates at the city's small schools averaged 90.5%, compared to 83% citywide. In 2004, 92.2% of ninth graders in small schools advanced to tenth grade, compared to the citywide average of 68.3%. 15p.

Dollars and Sense II: Lessons from Good, Cost-Effective Small Schools. Adobe PDF
Lawrence, B; Abramson, P.; Bergsagel, V.; Bingler, S.; Diamond, B.; Greene, T.; Hill, B.; Howley, C.; Stephen, D.; Washor, E.
(KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Cincinnati, OH , 2005)
Argues for small schools in three ways. First, analysis of more than three thousand construction projects shows that smaller schools are no more expensive to build than much larger schools. Second, analysis of the budgets of 25 good small schools throughout the United States demonstrates that on average they spend less per student on educational program, maintenance and operations than the per-pupil expenditure in their districts, yet they achieve results that are equal to or better than schools in the same area. Third, these schools offer innovative and effective educational programs, facilities, and strategies for cost effectiveness that can serve as models to people interested in cost-effective good small schools. Appendices contain contact information, budgets, test scores, a strategies grid, a list of criteria for school selection, and 30 references. The accompanying website supplements the written report, and contains many documents from the schools and links to additional resources. 66p.

Small by Design: Critiquing the Urban Salvation of "Small Schools" Adobe PDF
Howley, Craig B.
(Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Educational Planning, Oct 09, 2004)
Critiquing arguments from the "small school" movement in cities such as New York and Chicago, this paper provides a basis for making sense of the apparent divergence in policies governing schooling structures in rural and urban places. Its interpretation examines the way the urban small schools movement works to valorize (and hence draw support from) the prevailing political consensus, which favors charter schools and standards-based reform. Small rural schools, by contrast, tend to represent traditional arrangements, both in political and pedagogical terms; and reformers tend to see such schools as "backward" and corrupt. These judgments, based primarily on political and ideological grounds, attend little to the empirical findings about school size, which tend to show that small schools confer advantages in all locales to all but the highest-SES students. 19p.

Secondary School Size: A Systematic Review.
(University of London, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, EPPI-Centre , Oct 2004)
Investigates the impact of school size on a range of student, teacher and school outcomes by an examination of existing studies. The findings suggest that there is no overall relationship between secondary school size and outcomes. However, at the level of the individual outcomes, the findings emerge that suggest a reasonable confidence that examination attainment is maximized and absence is minimized at a certain point in the range of secondary school size. Further, costs per student decline as schools get larger. However, they also suggest that teacher and student perceptions of school climate decline and some kinds of violent behavior may increase. This review would seem to refute some of the more prevalent myths regarding the advantages and disadvantages of smaller and larger schools. For example, that student achievement is universally higher in smaller schools and that student behavior is universally worse in larger schools have been shown to be inconsistent with the current evidence. The relationship appears to be much more complex than such simple arguments suggest. 200p.

Competition or Consolidation? The School District Consolidation Debate Revisited.
Murray, Vicki; Groen, Ross
(Goldwater Institute, Phoenix, AZ , Jan 12, 2004)
Advocates competition over consolidation as a means to achieve school efficiency in Arizona, with school choice and expansion of charter school opportunities recommended. The costs and experiences of Arizona and other states with consolidation as well as the impact of consolidation on student achievement are discussed. 46p.
Report NO: 189

School Size and Returns to Education: Evidence from the Consolidation Movement, 1930-1970. Adobe PDF
Berry, Christopher
(Hoover Institute, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA , 2004)
Assesses the effect of school consolidation on education, revealing that savings realized by consolidating schools did not necessarily yield educational benefits, as graduates of smaller schools appear to have fared better as wage earners. Larger districts made up of smaller schools do, however, show management and educational achievement advantages. A review of the literature, explanation of the study methodology, and 25 references are included. 31p.

Rethinking High School: Five Profiles of Innovative Models for Student Success. Adobe PDF
Huebner, Tracy; Corbett, Grace
(WestEd, San Francisco, CA , 2004)
Profiles five smaller high schools where innovative programs are resulting in improved academic achievement. The six key findings from this study are that the schools serve ethnically and socially diverse students, are highly sought after, offer rigorous and engaging curricula, maintain supportive learning environments, have higher than average attendance rates, and have higher test scores, graduation rates, and college admission rates. 49p.

Participation by Design: A Shared Learning Environment.
Kurgan, Laura; Rizzo-Tolk, Roesemarie
(New Visions for Public Schools, New York, NY , 2004)
Reviews the process that converted two high school classrooms into a graphic arts studio to be shared by the three small schools housed within the building. The process brought together students, teachers, designers, administrators, and other professionals representing the three schools. They worked together to program and design a flexible space that retained territorial preferences for the three schools. 24p.

A Decade of Consolidation: Where are the Savings? Adobe PDF
Reeves, Cynthia
(Challenge West Virginia, Charleston , Jan 2004)
Between 1990 and 2000, total enrollment in West Virginia decreased 11%, 202 schools were closed, and education spending increased by 16%. Per pupil expenditures increased more in West Virginia than in any other state, but student achievement remained stagnant during this period. Transportation and administrative costs rose in spite of the declining numbers of students. This report includes analysis of primary state policies that have led to consolidation including: 1) construction and renovations requirements that mandate minimum enrollments; 2) school funding formulas that discourage efficiency and flexibility; 3) transportation allowance that has no upper limit other than cost per mile traveled. Includes 8 references. 31p.

Branded Environments. Defining the Restructured High School Campus. Adobe PDF
Rubin, Adam; Gunton, Brad
(New Visions for Public Schools, New York, NY , 2004)
Using New York City's former South Bronx High School as an example, this document discusses techniques for distinguishing by graphics the small schools that share a large building. These include exterior banners and signage that feature distinctive typefaces, colors, and symbols. 34p.

Back to the Agora: Workable Solutions for Small Urban School Facilities. Adobe PDF
Lawrence, Barbara Kent
(AEL, ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV , Sep 2003)
Suggests adapting the model of the ancient Greek "agora" to create successful small schools and describes several that have done so while reducing costs. These innovative urban small schools are the modern equivalent of the agora, where students and adults interact with the community, share resources, and learn from each other. Strategies used by communities to keep schools small and local include sharing facilities with other schools, reconfiguring large high schools, sharing with an education partner, sharing with a noneducation partner, sharing with the community, leasing space in the community, using the small facility in new ways, leasing the whole facility, and capitalizing on the facility. (Contains 18 references.) 2p.

Long and Winding Road. Adobe PDF
Lewis, Jim
(Challenge West Virginia, Charleston , Sep 2003)
Describes the extensive busing of West Virginia school students, resulting in high per- pupil transportation expenses, and long bus rides for many students. School consolidation is blamed for the situation, with students and families complaining about the detriment to extracurricular activities, as well as family and community life. The improvement of existing community-based school facilities are proposed as a solution. 18p.

Quality of Education. Educational Facilities Task Force Report on Class Size Amendment.
(AIA Florida (American Institute of Architects), Educational Facilities Task Force, Tallahassee, FL , Jul 2003)
In 2002, Florida voters passed a Class Size Amendment to the state constitution that limits the number of public-school students assigned to each teacher. Many school districts indicated that amid unprecedented budgetary shortfalls they could comply with the new law only by increasing their use of portable facilities and prototype designs. Recognizing the potential harm these temporary solutions could have on school design and the learning environment, an AIA Florida task force developed alternative solutions. This report outlines the pertinent issues and proposes ways to implement the law without compromising standards of education, and suggests ways to provide solutions and ensure implementation in a design-sensitive and cost-effective manner. 12p.

School Size as a Factor in Elementary School Achievement. Adobe PDF
Alspaugh, John W.; Gao, Rui
(University of Missouri, Columbia. , Apr 28, 2003)
The relationship between elementary school enrollment and fifth-grade achievement was explored using data from a large urban Missouri school district. The district's 39 elementary schools received uniform allocations of resources from the district and used the same instructional materials but varied considerably in K-5 enrollment, socioeconomic status (SES), and student achievement. Statistically significant differences were found among the mean levels of achievement of students in the five school enrollment groups. Smaller schools tended to be in the older inner-city part of the district, while larger schools were found in the newer suburban parts of the district. There was a general decline in achievement as school enrollments increased, for both the inner-city and suburban schools. [Authors' abstract] 25p.

School Size: A Review of the Literature. Adobe PDF
Overbay, Amy
(Research Watch. Evaluation and Research Department. Wake County Schools. , Feb 12, 2003)
Many discussions of school size tend to concentrate on secondary sources, such as other literature reviews. Although this review does examine some secondary sources, it focuses on empirical research. Recent research suggests that smaller schools may be linked to improved attendance and participation in school activities. Some studies claim that smaller schools may also be associated with higher achievement, although other studies indicate that school size does not have a significant impact on student performance and cite other variables such as district and school affluence as more reliable predictors of achievement. In fact, some studies suggest that students in more affluent districts may benefit from larger schools. Given the lack of consensus in the field over these issues, as well as practical issues related to rapid growth, limited funds, and the cost-effectiveness of smaller schools, many administrators and policy makers may prefer to pursue alternative reforms. It may be possible to achieve the desired student outcomes by reorganizing school populations, or by creating smaller learning communities within existing facilities. [Author's abstract] 14p.

Schools Sharing Buildings: A Toolkit. Principles and Practices from the Chicago Public Schools. Adobe PDF
(Chicago Public Schools, IL , 2003)
Much like office buildings that house several companies, a school building can house several autonomous schools, each with their own administration, faculty and budgets. This toolkit describes examples of schools sharing buildings in Chicago, and gives practical advice for how to do this successfully. Recommendations include: establish a commitment to shared equitable space; build and maintain stong working relationships; support school identity and autonomy with visual cues; plan for the future with a memorandum of understanding; develop a conflict resolution process; capitalize on the benefits of building sharing. 23p.

Claiming Space for Small Schools. A Report on the New Century Schools: The Bronx, New York 2002-2003. Adobe PDF
Kurgan, Laura
(Office of the Superintendent of Bronx High Schools; School of Architecture at Princeton University. , 2003)
A team from Princeton University's School of Architects followed a group of innovative educators in the Bronx High Schools as they rethought the architecture of small schools. Seeking to imagine the creation of educational spaces where students and teachers can truly learn through collaboration and challenge the traditional ways of thinking about size and scale, this report responds to the diversity of the Bronx, and offers ideas as to how to reclaim space administrative and obsolete spaces for use as classrooms. This toolkit's proposed strategy for the successful incubation and growth of new small schools begins with architecture, but also suggests the formation of design teams to take non-architectural interventions such as graphic design, furniture organization and educational planning just as seriously. 80p.

Architecture for Education: New School Designs from the Chicago Competition. Adobe PDF
Robbins, Mark; Moelis, Cindy S.; Clarke, Pamela H.; Hendrickson, Jamie; Nowaczewski, Jeanne L.; Haar, Shar
(Art Publishers , 2003)
This volume documents the work that resulted from the Chicago Public Schools Design Competition, explaining research and policies underlying the competition's criteria. The volume has three parts. Book 1, "The Chicago Experience," written by the competition's organizers, describes the competition's process and explains how it allowed community members, educational experts, and architects to collaborate in the design of schools that will foster the education of students, support quality teaching, and increase community involvement. It also chronicles the changing trends in public school architecture in Chicago. Book 2, "New School Designs," offers plans and ideas for schools designed for the 21st century. The competition's two winning designs and those of the finalists are extensively documented in drawings and renderings. Book 3, "Policies and Principles," explores policies that provided the impetus for the Chicago competition. It discusses the advantages of smaller learning environments; the benefits to students, teachers, and communities of universal design; application of sustainable design to the creation of public schools; and the importance of cost feasibility when building on a public budget. The section ends with a complete list of the winning, finalist, and notable architectural firms involved in the competition and a list of professional resources for creating new schools. 136p.

High Schools on a Human Scale. How Small Schools Can Transform American Education.
Toch, Thomas
(Beacon Press, 2003)
This is an account of the promise and challenges of smaller more personalized schools. Each chapter describes a different small school and how it works, including the Julia Richman Education Complex, the Urban Academy, High Tech High, the Met, and the Minnesota New Country School. 144p.

Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes? Adobe PDF
Schneider, Mark
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC , Nov 2002)
This review explores which facility attributes affect academic outcomes the most and in what manner and degree. The research is examined in six categories: indoor air quality, ventilation, and thermal comfort; lighting; acoustics; building age and quality; school size; and class size. The review concludes that school facilities affect learning. Spatial configurations, noise, heat, cold, light, and air quality obviously bear on students' and teachers' ability to perform. Needed are clean air, good light, and a quiet, comfortable, and safe learning environment. The review asserts that this can be and generally has been achieved within the limits of existing knowledge, technology, and materials; it simply requires adequate funding and competent design, construction, and maintenance. 24p.

From Large to Small: Strategies for Personalizing the High School. Adobe PDF
Steinberg, Adria; Allen, Lili
(Jobs for the Future, Boston, MA. , Oct 2002)
The conversion of large urban high schools into small, focused learning centers is gaining currency as an education reform strategy. This publication provides guidelines, along with guiding questions, for those considering such a conversion. The first section explores the structural, organizational, and political challenges involved in converting large high schools into identifiable, autonomous learning communities. It begins with a discussion of the advantages of "small." It continues with an examination of the experiences of some large schools that have broken into small learning communities but have failed to produce the desired results. From these efforts have emerged eight strategies, which the guide presents in detail. The second section of the guide explores the challenges that emerge once a school has reorganized into small units. It looks at how these units stay focused on the combination of effective learning principles and practices that "small" makes possible. It presents examples of routines and best practices from successful small schools, alternative schools, and youth-development programs. Finally, the guide presents a tool, "the five Cs," for blending youth development approaches with contextual and authentic learning to create effective learning environments. 27p.

The Future of School Facilities: Getting Ahead of the Curve.
DeArmond, Michael; Taggart, Sara; Hill, Paul
(Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington, Seattle , May 2002)
This paper asserts that instead of assuming that the future of learning has to take place in buildings we happen to have now, districts can let innovations in instruction and learning drive how they provide, design, and use school buildings. With this goal in mind, this paper looks at five trends in education and what they imply about the kinds of buildings and spaces districts will need for tomorrow’s schools. The five trends are: (1) pressure on schools to perform for all students, not just those who learn best in traditional settings; (2) demands for the personalization of learning, so that every child has a chance to learn and families have choices; (3) new technologies that will change how teachers teach and students learn; (4) periodic shortages of teachers (and school leaders) linked to swings in the economy; and (5) shifts in student population and residency patterns that will affect not only the demand for schools, but also the demands on schools. Suggested strategies include developing smaller schools, sharing buildings between multiple schools, adapting facilities for both commercial and educational uses, and partnerships with companies and organizations outside the education sector. The paper also includes an extensive case study on the high school built by the public-private partnership of the Niagara Falls City School District and Honeywell, Inc. The case study includes specifics on the financing deal, the flow of funds, tax strategies, and risk management. 29p.

If This Is Democracy, Then I Missed the Bus. Adobe PDF
Spence, Beth
(Challenge West Virginia, Charleston , May 2002)
Relates the experiences of small school advocates who felt blocked from the school planning process after West Virginia awarded its counties planning grants in 1998. The author cites a post-planning survey that found flaws in the planning process, with parents and students typically shut out of the process. A climate of exclusion, secrecy, and conflict of interest is cited, and case studies from five counties are included. 13p.

Making the Case for Small Schools. Adobe PDF
(Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA , 2002)
This brochure provides information about the current state of high schools and highlights key research on the benefits of small schools for all students. 6p.

Schools That Fit: Aligning Architecture and Education. Adobe PDF
(Cuningham Group, Minneapolis, MN , 2002)
This booklet presents one architectural firm's understanding and application of the latest educational research in real-world settings. It asserts that architects can make significant contributions to education by designing schools that uniquely facilitate improvements in organizational structure, learning methods, or both. It presents lessons learned about designing schools and about the process and the planning that are required to align facilities with programs, and architecture with education. The booklet provides examples of environments shaped by attention to communities' individual needs, including small schools, project-based learning, and community schools. Following an introduction, the discussion is broken into the following chapters: (1) "Schools That Fit;" (2) "Toward Better Schools;" (3) "Schools That Fit Communities;" (4) "Schools That Fit Education Leaders;" (5) "Schools That Fit Teachers;" (6) "Schools That Fit Learners;" and (7) "Schools That Fit Children." 64p.

Small by Design: Resizing America's High Schools. [Audio CD]
(North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, Naperville, IL , 2002)
An essay “Big Plans for Small Schools” serves as a companion piece to a two audio-CD set on small schools, providing a general overview of the movement. The essay outlines the current opportunity to rethink the mega high school and use the dollars earmarked for school facilities to redesign or construct smaller schools. Interviews with experts include Tom Vander Ark, Gates Foundation; Craig Howley, ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools; Mike Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop, and others. 27p.
TO ORDER: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200, Naperville, IL 60563, Tel: 800-356-2735.

Small Works in Arkansas: How Poverty and the Size of Schools and School Districts Affect School Performance in Arkansas. Summary of Recent Research. Adobe PDF
(Rural School and Community Trust, Washington, DC , 2002)
This study examined how Arkansas students' achievement is related to poverty, school and district size, and the interaction between these factors. Achievement test scores from grades four through nine in all Arkansas schools were supplied by the Arkansas Department of Education. Poverty levels were determined by percentage of students receiving subsidized meals. Findings indicate that the higher the poverty level in a community, the more damage larger schools and school districts inflicted on student achievement. In more affluent communities, the impact of school and district size was quite small, but the poorer the community, the stronger the influence. The achievement gap between children from more affluent and those from less affluent communities was narrower in smaller schools and smaller districts, and wider in larger schools and larger districts. Smaller schools were most effective against poverty when they were located in smaller districts; they were less effective when located in larger districts. Poverty dampened student achievement most in larger schools located in larger districts. The relationship between school size, poverty, and student achievement was as much as three times greater in schools with the largest percentages of African-American students. Recommendations include retaining existing smaller schools, building new small schools, and breaking up larger schools and districts. 14p.

Dollars and Sense: the Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools. Adobe PDF
Bingler, Steven; Diamond, Barbara M.; Hill, Bobbie; Hoffman, Jerry L.; Howley, Craig B.; Lawrence, Barbara Kent; Mitchell, Stacy; Rudolph, David; Wash
(KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Cincinatti, OH; The Rural School and Community Trust, Washington, DC; Concordia, LLC, New Orleans, LA , 2002)
This publication summarizes research on the educational and social benefits of small schools and the negative effects of large schools on students, teachers, and members of the community, as well as the "diseconomies of scale" inherent in large schools. It asserts that research shows that measuring the cost of education by graduates rather than by all students who go through the system suggests that small schools are a wise investment. Using data drawn from 489 schools submitted to design competitions in 1990-2001, the publication concludes that small schools can be built cost effectively and that many districts are doing so. 31p.

Big Trouble: Solving Education Problems Means Rethinking Super-Size Schools and Districts. Focus on Utah. Adobe PDF
Cox, David
(Sutherland Institute, Salt Lake City, UT. , 2002)
Big school districts promised to hold down costs by centralizing functions under one roof and delivering a greater selection of academic offerings and activities, thus improving education. But they have not delivered. Up to a certain size, consolidation can save costs, but above that size, districts experience "diseconomies of scale," including misallocation of funds toward bureaucracy rather than instruction. On average, large districts' standardized test scores fall in the lower end of their expected ranges, while smaller districts' scores fall in the upper end of their ranges. Large schools are concentrated in large districts, and big schools experience the same problems as big districts. Parents are not happy with big districts--their complaints over test scores, curriculum, taxes, or anything else always come back to the issue of control. In a big district, the bureaucracy makes the important decisions, and parents feel alienated. Some districts have tried to create sub-schools that share a common school building or to create sub-districts or local councils, but they fail to address the issue of control. Limiting the size of districts and schools and creating smaller districts will improve academics and efficiency and encourage public participation by bringing issues back to the local level. This will spur innovation, flexibility, and commitment by parents and teachers. 14p.

Sizing Things Up: What Parents, Teachers and Students Think About Large and Small High Schools. Adobe PDF
Johnson, Jean; Duffett, Ann; Farkas, Steven; Collins, Kathleen
(Public Agenda, New York, NY , 2002)
Examines the attitudes of teachers, parents and students on whether size matters in education. Parents whose children attend small high schools were more likely to praise academics and say struggling students get help, while parents whose children were in large schools reported more students falling through the cracks. Teachers say that large schools are more likely to be overcrowded but also provide more academic options. Students report many problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse, carry across large and small schools. But school size is not a major concern for any of the groups, and teachers say small class sizes are more important. 60p.
TO ORDER: Public Agenda, 6 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016; Tel: 212-686-6610, Fax: 212-889-3461

New Schools for Older Neighborhoods: Strategies for Building Our Communities' Most Important Assets. Adobe PDF
Kauth, Ann
(National Association of Realtors, Washington, DC , Jan 2002)
The case studies in this booklet highlight how five communities, in big cities and small towns, overcame the obstacles inherent in creating good new schools in existing neighborhoods. There is mounting evidence that small schools provide a better quality education than large ones. Among the obstacles faced in establishing new schools in old areas are: (1) school building standards, codes, and regulations; (2) difficulty in acquiring land; (3) districts have lost the skill to build schools; and (4) building “greenfield” schools is more familiar. The Oyster School in Washington, D.C., is an example of a school modernized through parent efforts when the school system was not able to find the funds for improvement of the facility. Sharing the existing space with an apartment building, at the cost of some space, resulted in a renovated school. In Pomona, California, a school was built at the site of a mall and vacant supermarket. A magnet-type school was built in Dallas, Texas, on the last piece of undeveloped land near a multifamily apartment complex. Two public academies were established in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, to attract children whose parents work in town and ensure that both the academies were filled to capacity. Rebuilding on the site of an old school was the solution for Manitowoc, Wisconsin, as it worked to meet the needs of a neighborhood. Some other examples of noteworthy approaches to new schools for old communities are briefly outlined. 20p.

Lowering the Overhead by Raising the Roof: and Other Rural Trust Strategies to Reduce the Costs of your Small School.
Lawrence, Barbara Kent
(The Rural School and Community Trust, Washington, DC. , 2002)
This publication helps communities reduce the costs of maintaining, building, and renovating good, small schools. It includes specific strategies that rural communities have used to reduce the costs of their small schools. It begins by suggesting factors to consider before starting to plan a school facilities project, such as understanding the resistance to small schools that many administrators and legislators may have, and also understanding the importance of examining and questioning state policies. It continues by providing a total of 13 strategies for reducing costs including the importance of good maintenance and siting and using renovation instead of resorting to new construction. The book ends with an extensive list of resources for further information on the strategies.
TO ORDER: The Rural School and Community Trust, 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 703, Washington, DC, 20006. Tel: 202-955-7177.

Schools Within Schools. ERIC Digest. Adobe PDF
McAndrews, Tobin; Anderson, Wendell
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, Eugene, OR. , 2002)
Schools within schools are autonomous subunits carved from large public schools to create a sense of community and cohesiveness among students and staff. This digest discusses the advantages, drawbacks, varieties, and sources of funding for schools within schools. Designers of these schools seek the advantages of both large and small schools by placing students into small learning communities while using the resources of the larger existing facilities. Advantages include higher test scores relative to larger schools; enhancement of students' self-perceptions, both socially and academically; higher attendance and lower dropout rates; fewer discipline problems; and greater cost effectiveness. Possible drawbacks include emphasizing the sense of belonging over academic rigor, loss of teacher seniority if they are transferred between schools, and possible reduction in funding for equipment. School-within-school types are vertical-house plans, ninth-grade house plans, at-risk schools, career and academics clusters, special curriculum models, newcomer schools, parent-participation plans, advisory systems, and charter schools. Administrators must assess the need for and the purpose of their plan before committing resources for school restructuring. Some funding organizations are the Annenberg Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education's Smaller Learning Communities program. 4p

New Small Learning Communities: Findings From Recent Literature Adobe PDF
Cotton, Kathleen
(Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, OR, Dec 2001)
Beginning with definitions of the various types of small schools and smaller learning communities, this paper presents research findings about the results well-run small schools produce, discusses the requirements for success as identified by researchers and practitioners, cites barriers to implementing effective small schools, directs readers to some Web resources, and provides an annotated bibliography. 73p

Breaking Up Large High Schools: Five Common (and Understandable) Errors of Execution. Adobe PDF
Gregory, Tom
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV. , Dec 2001)
In the past 30 years, research has suggested the need for much smaller high schools. In response, some administrators have attempted to subdivide big high schools into smaller entities. This digest reviews recent research on the movement to break up large schools and discusses five types of error common to such attempts--errors of autonomy, size, continuity, time, and control. Large high schools have frequently been broken up into schools within a school (SWAS) serving 200-500 students. This strategy attempts to personalize the familiar comprehensive high school, but characteristics built into the design of most breakup efforts make it impossible for the SWAS to develop a small-school culture. Five common errors bar many schools from crossing the big/small cultural divide: (1) longstanding big-school traditions and overarching functions undermine SWAS efforts to build their own identities; (2) SWAS are planned to be large enough to have individual principals, but this size ensures that the faculty will be too big to socially construct the vision of the new, small school; (3) specialized programs and experiences segregate younger students from older ones and create more transitions for student to accomplish; (4) traditional schedules prevent a personalized, spontaneous response to an unexpected learning opportunity; and (5) the big building that houses multiple SWAS continues the old control issues of the big school. 4p.

Are Small Schools Better? School Size Considerations for Safety & Learning. Policy Brief. Adobe PDF
McRobbie, Joan
(WestEd, San Francisco, CA , Nov 2001)
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. [Author's abstract] 6p.

Smaller, Safer, Saner: Successful Schools.
Nathan, Joe; Febey, Karen
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, D.C.; Minnesota University, Center for School Change, Humphrey Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota. , Aug 2001)
Provides brief case studies of 22 public school buildings in 12 states, representing urban, suburban, and rural communities, including both district-run and charter public schools. The studies demonstrate these schools' ability to improve academic achievement and behavior in safe, nurturing, and stimulating environments. Case study analysis reveals that on average, smaller schools can provide a safer and more challenging school environment that creates higher academic achievement and graduation rates, fewer disciplinary problems, and greater satisfaction for families, students, and teachers. The studies also suggest that sharing facilities with other organizations can enable schools to offer broader learning opportunities for students, provide higher quality services to students and their families, and present a way to efficiently use tax dollars. 64p.

The Great Size Debate. IssueTrak: A CEFPI Brief on Educational Facility Issues. Adobe PDF
Robertson, Sue
(Council of Educational Facilities Planners International, Scottsdale, AZ , Aug 2001)
This report reviews research that compares large schools to small schools in such areas as academic performance, class size benefits, operational problems, and student social development. A list of small school benefits for students, families, teachers, and the institution is included. The research indicates that as more schools- within-schools begin to function autonomously, they may yield desired student benefits at the most reasonable investment in capital and operations. While smaller classrooms appear to improve academic performance, some research also indicates that smaller class sizes can reduce teenage pregnancy rates and the need for disciplinary action. However, greater numbers of smaller classrooms are creating shortages of qualified teachers who can implement successful classroom learning. Efforts to provide smaller classrooms are also forcing school districts to quickly devise capital programs to address greater classroom numbers. Most of the research reviewed concludes that smaller class and school sizes are beneficial, with the greatest positive impact occurring for students from poorer families. Evidence supports the school-within-a-school approach and significant class size reductions in the primary grades. (Contains 14 references.) 4p

The Size of the School Population is Important.
Earthman, Glenn
(Falls Church City School Division, Falls Church, VA , Jul 25, 2001)
Analyzes research on the relationship between school size and student achievement, sociological advantages of smaller campuses, curriculum offering and school size, class size, and equity, while also detailing school organization and grade configuration plans. Includes 26 references. 26p.

Creating a New Vision of the Urban High School. Carnegie Challenge, 2001. Adobe PDF
Baldwin, Joyce
(Carnegie Corporation of New York, NY , 2001)
This paper focuses on how urban high schools may be not only revitalized but also transformed into institutions that are designed to help students at the crossroads of their academic careers. It discusses the rationale for change, historic highlights of this effort, and a new vision for American high schools. Some of the promising approaches to change include: transforming large impersonal schools into small schools; using whole-school design; reaching out to parents and other community members to increase their involvement in education; and partnering with businesses and universities. The paper highlights the Carnegie Corporation's Schools for a New Society initiative, which has awarded planning grants to 10 community-school district partnerships working on urban high school reform. The paper also focuses on principles outlined by the New Century High Schools for New York City Consortium, a $30 million commitment to high school reform in New York City announced in December 2000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the Carnegie Corporation. 14p.
TO ORDER: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 437 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Tel: 212-371-3200

Does School District Consolidation Cut Costs? Adobe PDF
Duncombe, William; Yinger, John
(Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and PUblic Affairs, Center for Policy Research , Jan 2001)
Evaluates the cost impacts of consolidation in rural school districts in New York over the 1985 to 1997 period. Holding student performance constant, school district consolidation substantially lowered operating costs, particularly when small districts were combined. The operating cost savings ranges from 22 percent for two 300-pupil districts to 8 percent for two 1,500-pupil districts. In contrast, consolidation lowers capital costs only for relatively small districts, and capital costs increase substantially when two 1,500-pupil districts come together. Overall, consolidation is likely to lower the costs of two 300-pupil districts by over 20 percent, to lower the costs of two 900-pupil districts by 7 to 9 percent, and to have little, if any, impact on the costs of two 1,500-pupil districts. State aid to cover the adjustment costs of consolidation appears to be warranted, but only in relatively small districts. Includes 44 references 56p.

Research on Smaller Schools: What Education Leaders Need To Know To Make Better Decisions. The Informed Educator Series.
Howley, Craig
(Educational Research Service, Arlington, VA. , 2001)
This overview examines recent research and thinking about school size and bases discussion on two key assumptions: good schools can differ widely in size, and there is no such thing as "optimal" school size. Rather, the "right" size for a school depends on local conditions and contexts. School size means more than total student enrollment. Grade span and grade level must be taken into account, and enrollment-per-grade is a more useful measure of size. In 1997-98, school enrollment in the United States ranged from 4 students in a Nebraska K-6 school to 5,160 students in a Florida 9-12 high school. Precise definitions of "large" and "small" do not exist, and the range of "informed judgments" about upper limits is substantial. Other context factors related to the effects of school size are socioeconomic status, rural versus urban locale, and state policies. Research is summarized concerning the influence of school size on student achievement, equity of achievement across socioeconomic levels, extracurricular participation, school climate, and dropout rates. This research indicates that school size alone can have a positive or negative influence on achievement levels, but that small schools are more effective in impoverished communities and make achievement dramatically more equitable. Secondary interpretations of the literature suggest that many schools are too large to serve students well, and smaller schools are widely needed, particularly in impoverished communities. Advice is offered to administrators in the form of principles to guide decision making about school size, policy mechanisms that support small schools, recommended local action, and the challenges and benefits of house plans and schools-within-schools. (Contains 61 references and 5 suggested readings.) 14p.
TO ORDER: ERS Member Services Information Center, 2000 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. Tel: 800-791-9308

The Ultimate Education Reform? Make Schools Smaller
Ayers, William; Bracey, Gerald; Smith, Greg
(University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Education, Center for Education Research, Analysis, and Innovation, Milwaukee, WI , Dec 14, 2000)
Article advocating the return to smaller schools after a forty year trend toward school consolidation. The authors claim that a small school can raise student achievement, especially for minority and low-income students, reduce incidents of violence; reduce graffiti on school buildings; increase attendance and graduation rates; elevate teacher satisfaction; operate cost-effectively and increase parent and community involvement.

School Reform and the No-Man's-Land of High School Size. Adobe PDF
Gregory, Tom
(University of Washington, Small Schools Project at the Center for Reinventing Public Education, Seattle, WA , Dec 2000)
Since 1970, essentially all research favors the creation of small high schools. Four forces that have contributed to the growing obsolescence of large, comprehensive high schools are the onset of the information age, the emergence of an adolescent culture, the students' rights movement, and changing attitudes about the proper functioning of organizations. Two reform responses have emerged: breaking up existing big high schools into small schools within schools (SWASs) and creating new, small high schools. The two alternatives represent very different models of schooling with very different cultures. Successful examples of the SWAS approach are rare. Five types of error committed in designing them are errors of size, continuity, autonomy, time, and control. As a result, they rarely get much smaller than 400 students, the minimum size at which the familiar top-down hierarchy that accompanies big buildings still works. However, a smaller size is necessary to enable significant changes in teaching and learning. This is evidenced by the success of the new, small high schools, which diminishes when they get much larger than 200 students. Thus, there is a no-man's-land of school size between 200 and 400 students in which neither the factory model nor new forms of schooling work. School districts should foster ongoing conversations among like-minded teachers, parents, and students to develop new visions of the high school. As enrollments grow, they can trigger the piecemeal construction of small buildings that allow each group to realize its vision. 20p.

Research About School Size and School Performance in Impoverished Communities. Adobe PDF
Howley, Craig; Strange, Marty; Bickel, Robert
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Dec 2000)
Many panels and experts have endorsed small schools as educationally effective, often adding the parenthetical remark that smaller size is especially beneficial for impoverished students. A recent series of studies, the "Matthew Project," substantially strengthens the research base on school size and school performance in impoverished communities, adding evidence to bolster these claims. This Digest reviews recent thinking about small school size, describes the aim of the Matthew Project studies, and summarizes findings. Discussion concludes with a brief section on implications. 2p

Making Current Trends in School Design Feasible.
(North Carolina State Dept. of Public Instruction, Div. of School Support. Raleigh, NC , Nov 2000)
This North Carolina report describes new and innovative approaches to school facilities as they relate to their communities by exploring the trends towards smaller schools, walkable schools, sustainability and green building practices, recycling older small community schools, and joint use arrangements. The pros and cons of small schools are examined. The report finds solutions by applying strategies in smart growth planning. Concluding sections contain links and references where stakeholders can obtain in-depth material on these subjects. (Contains 60 references.) 57p.

Small Schools: Why They Provide the Best Education for Low-income Children. Adobe PDF
Spence, Beth
(Challenge West Virginia, Charleston , Oct 2000)
Summarizes research conducted in West Virginia that shows how large schools benefit affluent students but cause problems for low-income students, and that the magnitude of negative effects on low-income students is more than twice that of the positive effect on affluent students. The author uses this evidence to dispute the value of school consolidation in the largely rural state and impoverished state. Similar findings from Georgia, Ohio, Texas, and Montana are cited. 10p.

The Relationship Between School Size and Academic Achievement in Georgia's Public High Schools.
Gentry, Kathy Joy
(Dissertation, University of Georgia , Aug 2000)
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between school size and academic achievement in Georgia's public high schools. Since research indicated that many factors influence academic achievement, this study controlled for two possible influences on academic achievement: ethnicity of students (through sampling), and percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch (through analysis of covariance). Based on the test of significant differences among the group classifications it was not necessary to control for the percentage of teachers with advanced certification in this sample. This study of Georgia's public high schools found that in the three academic areas analyzed, students in the larger schools scored higher on achievement measures than students in the smaller schools (less that 850 students). Although the results of this study were in favor of the larger schools when cognitive learning was analyzed, affective and behavioral dimensions of learning were not investigated. It is recommended that further investigations consider school size as it relates to the behavioral and affective dimensions of learning before making the overall declaration that "bigger schools are better."

Long School Bus Rides: Stealing the Joy of Childhood. Adobe PDF
Spence, Beth
(Challenge West Virginia, Charleston , Mar 2000)
Decries the long school bus rides endured by children in several West Virginia school districts where many schools have been consolidated. Examples of some children's extreme ride times are described, as are the expense of busing, loss of extra-curricular activities, threats to children's health and safety, and the myth of greater class offerings at the consolidated schools. 10p.

A Study on the Relationship between Students' Achievement, School Size and Gender.
La Sage, Ed.; Ye, Renmin
( Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Educational Research Association, Dallas, TX , Jan 27, 2000)
The relationship between school size and students' achievement in reading and mathematics by school level and gender was studied in order to illuminate issues of school size and equity and alternatives such as school-within-a-school plans. Data on 251,049 students from kindergarten through 12th grade were collected from 291 elementary, middle, and high schools in an urban Texas district. Correlations between academic achievement and school size were determined. For minority students, the effects of school size were mixed, with positive correlations for some groups at some levels that were not sustained at other levels. Findings do show that female students are negatively affected by school size in reading and mathematics at elementary, middle, and high school levels, while negative impact on males is only seen at the high school level. Previous research and the findings of this study suggest that smaller school sizes and smaller class sizes help educators understand and work with their students. 17p.

Small Schools
(The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD, 2000)
School consolidation was once one of the United States' most widespread reform movements--between 1940 and 1990, the number of schools dropped nearly 70 percent, and average enrollment rose fivefold. Some urban high schools swelled to more than 3,000 students. But a growing body of evidence shows that small schools work better than large schools for students, teachers, and parents. As a result, improving the quality of education by creating small schools has become an increasingly popular solution to the failure of jumbo schools in cities such as Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

Small High Schools That Flourish: Rural Context, Case Studies, and Resources. Adobe PDF
Howley, Craig B., Ed.; Harmon, Hobart L., Ed.
(AEL, Inc., Charleston, WV, 2000)
It is now widely recognized that small schools are more productive and effective than larger schools. Yet, public officials and professional educators in many rural areas continue to believe that small schools are inefficient and ineffective, a way of thinking reflected in closed schools, angry residents, and long bus rides for students. About a quarter of U.S. high schools remain small (with fewer than 400 students in grades 9-12). Part research report and part handbook for action, this book discusses the general status of small rural high schools, takes a closer look at four small high schools that are flourishing despite being located in communities of very modest means, and offers guidance to administrators and policymakers who would like to keep their small high schools but must grapple with numerous problems. 207p.

Creating New Schools: How Small Schools Are Changing American Education.
Clinchy, Evans, Ed.
(Teachers College Press, Williston, VT , 2000)
This book describes the creation of new, small, (strictly) public, and relatively autonomous schools that can be chosen by parents, students, and teachers located in Boston and New York City. These schools can be seen as the forerunners of an entirely new and much more democratic American public school system which attempts to achieve genuine educational diversity, innovation, and reform. This stands in sharp contrast to national, authoritarian, standards-based agendas. However, the creation of these schools is requiring massive changes in how local districts are organized and operated. 235p.
TO ORDER: Teachers College Press, P.O. Box 20, Williston, VT 05495-0020 Tel: 800-575-6566

Making Big Schools Feel Small.
George, Paul; Lounsbury, John
(National Middle School Association, Westerville, OH , 2000)
Describes how to offer students the benefits of smallness within increasingly larger schools by ensuring long-term teacher-student relationships. Three major ways of achieving such relationships are detailed: 1) multiage grouping; 2) looping; and 3) schools-within-a-school. Research on middle school organizational patterns is summarized. Also presented are the findings of a national survey on long-term teacher-student relationships that gathered the opinions of 105 educators, 586 parents, and 1,100 students from 33 schools. Guidelines for practitioners interested in implementing long-term teacher-student relationships to make big schools seem small conclude the book. Includes 53 references. 127p.

When It Comes to Schooling...Small Works: School Size, Poverty, and Student Achievement. Adobe PDF
Howley, Craig B.; Bickel, Robert
(Rural School and Community Trust, Randolph, VT, Jan 2000)
This report summarizes a series of studies on school size, poverty, and student achievement. These studies analyzed 29 sets of test scores from various grades in Georgia, Ohio, Montana, and Texas to examine the relationship between school-level performance on tests, school size, and community poverty level. The studies found that as schools become larger, the negative effects of poverty on student achievement increase. The less affluent the community served, the smaller a school should be to maximize the school's performance. The well-documented correlation between poverty and low achievement is as much as 10 times stronger in larger schools than in smaller ones in all 4 states. These benefits of smaller schools seem to be particularly important at the middle grade level where children are approaching the age when they are most at risk of dropping out of school. While children of all races are as likely to be affected by the relationship between school size, poverty, and achievement, minority children are often enrolled in schools that are too big to achieve top performance given the poverty levels in their communities. Nine tables and graphs present findings from the studies. Three Web sites on small schools are listed. 24p.

Small Schools. Issue Brief. Adobe PDF
McComb, Jan
(Oregon State Legislature, Legislative Policy, Research, and Committee Services, Salem. , 2000)
This brief discusses the benefits of small schools and whether schools can be too small. For years, it was thought that larger schools could offer more comprehensive instructional programs of greater quality at lower costs than smaller schools. However, recent research indicates that larger may not be better, and that smaller schools may in fact be more productive and effective. Benefits include better attendance, lower dropout rates, better student attitudes, increased academic accomplishment, fewer discipline problems, increased adult connections, less cost per student, increased extracurricular activities, increased parental support, and better safety. However, can schools be too small? Studies have demonstrated that, ideally, high schools should have between 600 and 900 students. Research also supports earlier findings that school size is especially important for the most disadvantaged students. (Contains 12 references.) 7p.

Effects of Student Population Density on Academic Achievement in Georgia Elementary Schools. Adobe PDF
Swift, Diane O'Rourke
(Dissertation, University of Georgia, Athens , 2000)
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between school density and achievement test scores. Based on comparing test scores and student population density, it was concluded that elementary schools having an architectural square footage of less than 100 square feet per student tend to have significantly lower science, social studies, and composite ITBS scores than schools having more than 100 architectural square feet per student. Schools ranging from 100.27 to 134.1 architectural square feet per student had significantly higher ITBS science, social studies, and composite scores at the third-grade level. 71p.
Report NO: UMI AAI9994129

Small Schools: Great Strides; A Study of New Small Schools in Chicago. Adobe PDF
Wasley, Partricia et al
(Bank Street College of Education, New York, NY, 2000)
According to a new study released by Bank Street College of Education, reconfiguring large urban schools into smaller schools is having a positive impact on student performance, school climate, professional collegiality, and parent satisfaction. Relying on the largest database assembled to date on small schools, this suggests that even though smallness by itself is not the cure to all that ails urban schools, policymakers can have a significant impact on a variety of important education issues if they integrate small schools into a comprehensive reform strategy. 87p.

The School-within-a-School Model.
Dewees, Sarah
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV , Dec 1999)
To capture some of the benefits of small-scale schooling, educators are looking for ways to downsize, including dividing large schools into subunits or "schools within a school." This approach establishes within the school a smaller educational unit with a separate educational program and its own staff, students, and budget. This digest introduces the school-within-a-school concept, summarizes existing research, and reviews advantages and disadvantages. The various models used to downsize large schools differ on many factors, but the school-within-a-school model has the greatest levels of autonomy and distinctiveness. Because this model most closely replicates a small school, it is most likely to produce the positive effects of a small-scale educational organization. The literature suggests that implementation of the school-within-a-school model has met with varying success in different settings. The most critical factor is commitment to full implementation, allowing for complete administrative separation of the subschool and the creation of a separate identity. While research results are limited, this model has the potential to contribute to increased student well-being, sense of community, student achievement, and educational attainment. The model is especially promising for disadvantaged students, who are more likely to attend large schools. It is a cost-effective approach to school reform, but the challenge lies in successful implementation. (Contains 30 references.) 4p.

School Size and Class Size in Texas Public Schools. Policy Research Report Number 12. Adobe PDF
( Texas Education Agency,Div. of Policy Planning and Evaluation, Austin , 1999)
In response to an enrollment increase of 666,961 students over the past 10 years, Texas public schools have increased in both number and size. The number of Texas high schools with over 2,000 students increased by 35 percent from 1987-88 to 1997-98, and these very large schools now make up 14 percent of all regular instructional high schools. Furthermore, the number of elementary and middle schools with 900 or more students increased by 30 and 53 percent, respectively, during that period. This report presents an overview of findings from school size research conducted nationally over the past two decades. Moreover, school size trends in Texas are described, and the relationship between school size and student academic performance in Texas is analyzed. 33p.

Great Schools Issue Paper: School Size.
( Wisconsin Education Association Council, Great Schools Initiative, 1999)
Recent research on the effect of school size on student achievement indicates that a small school strategy may be a powerful school improvement model. Describes benefits of smaller schools.

Year-Round Education Program Guide.
(California Dept. of Education, Div. of School Facilities Planning, Sacramento , 1999)
This report examines single- and multi-track educational programs as found in California's public school system, explores the pros and cons of using year-round education programs, and how to implement these programs. Final sections describe the education codes pertinent to year-round education, including codes for establishing a year-round program, year-round scheduling, intersession funding, year-round grant program, air- conditioning allocations, and year-round facilities. 29p.

Current Literature on Small Schools Adobe PDF
Raywid, Mary Anne
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools , Jan 1999)
This Digest presents a brief overview of research literature on the effectiveness of small schools. It then describes current topics researchers have begun to explore, including discussion of associated policy issues, individual successes and failures, and essential elements and other implementation considerations. The Digest also overviews a substantial amount of school reform literature that interweaves smallness with other school proposals—sometimes simply presupposing it. p

Small Schools by Design.
(The Chicago Panel, Chicago, IL, May 1998)
The Chicago Panel Initiative status report on small schools. Defines, and gives examples of a school-within-a-school, multiplex, scatterplex, and charter schools.

Does it Matter Where Our Children Learn? Adobe PDF
Duke, Daniel L.
(National Academy of Science, National Research Council, Washington, DC , Feb 18, 1998)
Modern demands in education include student safety, the integration of technology, and rising expectations for performance. The quality of learning facilities is one of several complex components that affect these issues, but more quantitative analysis is needed. School condition has some effect on test scores but also entails a moral obligation for students' safety; more research is needed to compare building conditions with achievement. The size of schools is a complex variable, and although some studies have offered ideal school populations, others have shown that both small and large schools have distinct benefits. Contemporary attitudes toward functional adequacy encompass school design, classroom design, and nonclassroom space (such as auditoriums), but these new trends are largely unsubstantiated with studies. Recent examination of air quality, temperature, lighting, and noise has shown that all affect achievement, but combined studies in these areas are lacking. Organization, architecture, and "pride of place" can prevent negative social interactions, but no studies seem to address the question of being "too secure." Modern literature proposes several benefits of school location, but fails to compare these benefits against one another. The effect of an environment's aesthetics is difficult to research because it affects each student differently; however, that often seems to be the most "real" variable. This white paper discusses such issues, examines the research and information available, and proposes a "systematic inquiry" across several fields in order to further substantiate proposed solutions to current educational demands. 36p.

The Effects of Size of Student Body on School Costs and Performance in New York City High Schools. Adobe PDF
Stiefel, Leanna; et al.
(New York University, Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York, NY , 1998)
Small size is often cited by reformers and parents as the key ingredient necessary to create an effective learning environment. In New York City, the new public secondary schools have consistently smaller numbers of students than most existing high schools. The literature is unambiguous that smaller schools show better outputs than schools of other sizes, but is less clear about the relationship of school size and costs. This report analyzes the relationship between size of student body and school costs and performance in New York City public high schools, using Board of Education school-level data (1995-96) on budgeted expenditures, student characteristics, and performance. Of 201 secondary schools and programs in the Board's database, 133 were included in the analysis; excluded entries did not serve all grades 9-12, served very specialized populations, or lacked information on necessary variables. The schools were categorized as small (less than 600 students), smaller medium (600-1,200), larger medium (1,200-2,000), and large (over 2,000). Results indicate that the size of the student body was an important factor in relation to costs and outputs. Although small academic schools had somewhat higher costs per student, their much higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates produced among the lowest costs per graduate in the New York City system. Contains 36 references, 8 data tables and figures, and a glossary. 28p.

Long Rides, Tough Hides: Enduring Long School Bus Rides. Adobe PDF
Zars, Belle
(The Rural School and Community Trust, Arlington, VA , Jan 1998)
Presents anecdotes from Montana, the Navajo Reservation, West Virginia, and Colorado that describe long school bus rides and the hardships that accompany them. Research on busing is reviewed and found to be scarce and insubstantial. Two of the most recent researchers have found that busing could be considered exploitation of children's time, and that students with large average times on buses report lower grades, poorer levels of fitness, fewer social activities, and poor study habits. Knowing more about the effects of busing might lead to better choices about closing, maintaining, or opening new schools in rural areas. 7p.

Early Implementation of the Class Size Reduction Initiative. [California] Adobe PDF
Illig, David C.
(California Research Bureau, Sacramento , Apr 1997)
A survey of school districts was conducted to determine the initial progress and problems associated with the 1997 Class Size Reduction (CSR) Initiative. Data reveal that most school districts had enough space for smaller classes for at least two grade levels; and small school districts were much less likely to report space constraints. Several policy issues are examined that could impede CSR's future progress, including the ability of smaller classes to actually improve student performance, fading interest from parents and teachers, CSR funding eroding available funding for other programs, space constraints preventing equal implementation within school districts, and teacher supply increasing rapidly enough to prevent bottlenecks. 25p.
Report NO: CRB-97-008

School Size.
Irmsher, Karen
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, Eugene, OR , 1997)
The decades following the 1960s saw an increase in the size of American schools and classrooms. However, recent research indicates that large schools do not work for minority and low-income students, tend to hurt attendance and student participation, and are not necessarily cost efficient. This digest summarizes the results of various studies that examined whether large schools have produced greater academic success at a lower cost; the ways in which small schools benefit students, parents, and teachers; and the need for establishing a collective school identity in conjunction with downsizing. Education experts recommend an enrollment of anywhere from 300 to 900 students and that schools-within-schools are a first step toward restructuring. (Contains 9 references).

Affective and Social Benefits of Small-Scale Schooling. ERIC Digest. Adobe PDF
Cotton, Kathleen
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV , Dec 1996)
This digest summarizes research in the affective and social realms that overwhelmingly affirms the superiority of small schools. Findings on the affective and social effects of school size are extensive and highly consistent, while the research base on outcomes of schools-within-a-school arrangements is smaller and less conclusive. While many small schools are also rural, it is the smallness of schools, regardless of setting, that is beneficial to students. Research on feelings and attitudes indicates the superiority of small schools in the following areas: student attitudes toward school in general and particular subjects, personal and academic self-concepts of students, student sense of belonging, social bonding between teachers and students, teacher and administrator attitudes toward work and each other, and cooperation among colleagues. Research on social behavior shows that compared to large schools, small schools have higher student rates of extracurricular participation, higher attendance rates, lower dropout rates, and fewer behavior and discipline problems. Small schools' superior performance may be related to the need for everyone's involvement, better interpersonal relationships, and easier management of individualized and cooperative practices. Economically disadvantaged and minority students benefit most from small schools, but are frequently concentrated in large schools in large districts. Schools-within-a-school plans have potential for producing results like those of small schools provided they are distinct administrative entities within the buildings that house them. 4p.

High School Size: Which Works Best, and For Whom? Adobe PDF
Lee, Valerie E.; Smith, Julia B.
(Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY , Apr 08, 1996)
This paper examines how students' reading and mathematics achievement gains over the high school years are influenced by the size of the high school they attend. Analyses of three waves of data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 used hierarchical linear modeling methods to examine three questions: (1) which size high school is most effective for students' learning; (2) which size is most equitable; and (3) whether the effects of school size are consistent across high schools defined by their social compositions. Results indicate that the ideal high school, defined in terms of effectiveness (learning), enrolls 600-900 students. Students learn less in schools smaller than this, but students in very large high schools (over 2,100 students) learn considerably less. Learning is more equitable, however, in very small high schools, with equity defined by the relationship between learning and student socioeconomic status (SES). Important for educational policy is the finding that the influence of school size on learning is different in schools that vary by student SES and in schools with differing proportions of minorities. Enrollment size has a stronger effect on learning in schools with lower-SES students, and also in schools with high concentrations of minority students. Implications for educational policy are discussed. Contains 38 references and 11 figures and data tables. 51p.

Taking Stock: The Movement to Create Mini-Schools, Schools-within-schools, and Separate Small Schools. Adobe PDF
Raywi, Mary Anne
(ERIC Clearinghouse of Urban Education, New York, NY , Apr 1996)
Many educators see school downsizing efforts as the linchpin of school restructuring. Several forms that school downsizing efforts are taking are explored, along with a discussion of the reasons for which small schools are being established. The types of subschools that are being launched (houses, mini-schools, schools-within-schools) are described. The largely exploratory study is derived from an extensive review of the literature and documentation, evaluation, and policy studies of 22 schools-within-schools and small schools conducted over the past 15 years. Experiences in three cities, New York (New York), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), and Chicago (Illinois), are highlighted. The evidence suggests that there are multiple reasons for downsizing, notably the enhancement of commitment and performance and the development of teachers and students. A number of subunits, subschools, and small schools have been quite successful in achieving better attendance, more positive attitudes, and greater achievement. Schools that have been designed and operated as distinctive and autonomous entities have had a better chance of success. While downsizing is clearly no magic bullet, it can increase student participation, reduce dropouts, improve achievement, and enhance teacher efficacy. (Contains 2 figures and 136 references.)

School Size, School Climate, and Student Performance
Cotton, Kathleen
(Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, OR, 1996)
The author reviewed the research evidence on school size, and repeatedly found small schools to be superior to large schools on most measures and equal to them on the rest. She claims that this holds true for both elementary and secondary students of all ability levels and in all kinds of settings.

Ongoing Dilemmas of School Size: A Short Story.
Howley, Craig
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV , 1996)
While recent national reports reinforce the growing perception that small schools are good schools, issues of size cannot be captured in universal guidelines. This digest discusses the history of school size dilemmas. 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.

Downsizing Schools in Big Cities. Adobe PDF
Raywid, Mary Anne
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, New York, NY , 1996)
This digest briefly reviews the current movement to downsize urban schools to help educators decide whether and why to pursue such a move, and to indicate which models appear most promising. Research evidence is strong that small schools benefit the entire school community. Small schools are particularly beneficial for disadvantaged youth, who profit from the extra attention and sense of belonging promoted in a small school. Putting several small schools into an existing large-school building can rejuvenate the building and enhance educational possibilities. The founding principles of small urban schools are: (1) cohesion; (2) autonomy; (3) focus or theme; and (4) a constituency assembled on the basis of shared interests. There are many difficulties in implementing small urban schools, but many more are being planned. They combine features currently being recommended by educational researchers as important in transforming schools. (Contains 10 references.)

Big Schools, Small Schools: What's Best for Students?
Witcher, Ann E., Ed.; Kennedy, Robert L., Ed.
(Phi Delta Kappa, Center on Evaluation, Development, and Research, Bloomington, IN , 1996)
Researchers and educators have examined the educational consequences of large and small schools. The major concerns documented in the literature on school size reflect four primary areas--curriculum, climate, achievement, and restructuring. This volume incorporates recent research on the effects of school size. Chapter 1 contains four research articles on curriculum, which show that smaller schools may be at only a minimal disadvantage when comparing academic program offerings. Chapter 2 presents findings of five studies on the relationship between school size and school climate. The studies investigated self-esteem, participation in school activities, dropout rates, and discipline concerns. Six articles in chapter 3 examine the link between school size and achievement. Findings indicate a moderate position between the following two viewpoints: (1) Large schools are better because they offer more curricular choices, materials, and facilities; and (2) small schools are better because they offer a more personalized learning environment. Chapter 4 presents findings from four studies of effective strategies to restructure large schools into small schools. An overview accompanies each chapter. Conclusions are that while smaller schools have an advantage over large schools in school climate, larger schools tend to offer a wider array of curricular offerings. To overcome these shortcomings, small schools can enlarge their offerings through technology and large schools can reorganize as schools-within-schools. Size has not yet been found to be a statistically significant factor of student achievement. (Contains 31 annotated references.) 232p.

Small Schools: The Numbers Tell a Story. Adobe PDF
Klonsky, Michael
(Illinois University, Chicago College of Education, Small School Workshop, Chicago, IL , 1995)
A compelling body of research shows that when students are part of smaller and more intimate learning communities, they are more successful. The latest research demonstrates that small schools, particularly schools of choice, have a measurably positive impact on inner-city students, especially those from minority and low-income families. The tradeoff for the wider selection of courses offered in large schools has been the sacrifice of coherence, intimacy, security, student choice, and teacher autonomy that a small school can offer. In small schools, the level of participation in all activities tends to be higher, and fewer students are marginalized. Research also suggests that restructuring schools can work and that reorganizing schools into smaller units has important benefits for minority and disadvantaged students. Dropout rates appear to decrease as schools get smaller, and the sense of community is enhanced. The experiences of those who have attempted to create smaller schools in the Chicago, Illinois public school system indicate that successful implementation ultimately depends on the adequate accommodation of old and new school structures and on transformation rather than the simple addition of innovative practices. A list of recommended readings is provided to supplement information. (Contains 40 references.) 24p.

The Subschools/Small Schools Movement--Taking Stock. Adobe PDF
Raywid, Mary Anne
(Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools, Madison, WI , 1995)
Today, the division of large schools into subschools or subunits is often recommended as the answer to a number of problems in education. This paper examines the several forms of school-downsizing efforts and the somewhat diverse purposes for which they are being established. The data come from a review of literature and an evaluation of 22 schools-within-schools and small schools. The paper describes the downsizing activities in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago and identifies four distinct types, each with varying degrees of separateness and autonomy--a house plan, a mini-school, a school-within-a-school, and a small school. The impacts of downsized structures on students and schools are described. Contains 142 references. 63p.

"Is There Life in Town after the Death of the High School?" or High Schools and the Population of Midwest Towns. Adobe PDF
Dreier, William H.; Goudy, Willis
(Paper presented at the Annual Rural and Small Schools Conference, Manhattan, KS, Oct 24, 1994)
An overview of the history of rural school consolidation in north central Iowa reveals that by 1994, 9 of the 10 high schools in towns of less than 500 in 1940 had closed, and 3 of the 5 high schools in towns with populations of 500-999 had closed. However, all three towns with populations over 1,000 in 1940 had high schools in 1993-94. This down-sizing trend is evident in all areas of Iowa in that the number of towns with a high school decreased to 727 in 1950, to 419 in 1970, and to 359 in 1990. This study examined whether a greater percentage of incorporated towns in Iowa with a high school had a population increase, compared to towns without a high school during the same decades. During 1930-50, rural areas lost population, but the state gained and the number of places with high schools did not change. During 1950-70, population trends were the same, but a greater number of places lost their high schools to consolidation. During 1970-90, the state lost population, and the number of communities without a high school continued to increase. Data analysis revealed that half the communities with a high school gained a significant amount (5 percent or more) of population over 2 or more decades, and within the same time frame, three-fourths of communities without a high school were losing population. This study concludes that a community without a high school loses population faster when compared to all the towns losing population during the same time period. 12p.

The Academic Effectiveness of Small-Scale Schooling.
Howley, Craig
(ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV , 1994)
Research generally points to a negative relationship between school or district size and student achievement. When all else is held equal (particularly community or individual socioeconomic status), comparisons of schools and districts based on differences in enrollment generally favor smaller units. A recent study found that small elementary schools benefitted disadvantaged students most (by weakening the negative influence of background characteristics). A study of higher-order thinking skills found no significant differences in the performance of students in small rural high schools and those in larger high schools in more urbanized areas. Small school size is also associated with lower high school dropout rates. In spite of the apparent benefits of small school size for adolescents, policymakers still employ a powerful rationale to justify the continued creation of larger high schools. The charge is made that small high schools cannot provide a curriculum with adequate breadth and depth to meet students' diverse needs. Yet evidence suggests that a total enrollment of 400 students is actually sufficient to allow a high school to provide an adequate curriculum. In addition, research on grade-span configuration shows that eighth-grade students achieve best in an elementary K-8 setting. If restructuring truly is an aim of school reform, then the scale of schooling is a major structural issue. Making the institution of schooling more responsive to students may require a shift in metaphor from school as organization, where bureaucratic thinking inhibits true learning, to school as community, where learning is "nurtured" or "cultivated."

Small Schools and Savings: Affordable New Construction, Renovation and Remodeling. Adobe PDF
Dolinsky, D.; Frankl, J. S.
(The Public Education Association, New York, NY, Dec 1992)
"Small Schools and Savings" rebuts the presumption that capital costs of school planning and construction render small schools uncompetitively expensive. Specific options are outlined that can help small schools be cost effective. The false logic of borrowing economies-of-scale arguments from the factory model and applying them to building schools is contradicted through an investigation that shows countervailing economies in a flexible, adaptive approach to school planning, siting, and organization. Specific potential savings opportunities that are advocated center on (1) the use of smaller sites; (2) renovation of an existing abandoned or underused building; (3) collaboration with other public agencies to incorporate smaller schools in multiuse facilities; and (4) integration with private or public sector construction or renovation projects or negotiation to include a school in construction or renovation of low-rise housing. It is unnecessary and inconsistent with new insights about urban education to continue building new, too-large buildings dedicated to schools. Two appendixes consider school size and achievement and findings from a Chicago (Illinois) study, and a third contains a 72-item bibliography. 62p.

New Schools for New York: Plans and Precedents for Small Schools.
(Princeton Architectural Press, New York, NY , 1992)
This study illustrates with specific designs how the city might meet two critical educational objectives in its first program of new school construction in many years. The study designs show how New York might build schools small enough to meet criteria for effective learning environments and how these small schools might be closely integrated with their communities. Following an introduction by Rosalie Genevro, two essays discuss the aims and implementation of this study: "Advocacy and Architecture" by Jeanne Silver Frankl and "The New Small Schools for New York Design Study" by Rosalie Genevro. The six neighborhood architectural and educational programs developed through the study are then profiled and amply illustrated. A final essay, "Building and Learning," by Anne E. Riselbach, expands the analysis of the development of school design in New York City. Drawings and texts are the result of exploration by 50 teams of architects, credited with their drawings. Contains 138 references 200p.

Source Book on School and District Size, Cost, and Quality. Adobe PDF
(Minnesota University, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, North Central Regional Educational Lab., Oak Brook, IL , 1992)
This source book brings together research about improving the ways that learning, teaching, and schooling are organized, and how school and school district size may affect such efforts. Six scholars were commissioned to address the questions of how to define quality in education; how school and district size are related to educational costs and quality; and what recommendations to offer to educators, school board members, and legislators. The papers are: (1) "Small Is Too Big: Achieving a Critical Anti-Mass in the High School" (Tom Gregory) (developing innovative small high schools oriented toward individual learning and democratic processes); (2) "Modern Conceptions of Educational Quality and State Policy Regarding Small Schooling Units" (David H. Monk) (the need for state policymakers to be more receptive to alternative forms of reorganization); (3) "Remapping the Terrain: School Size, Cost, and Quality" (Paul Nachtigal) (viewing the issues of educational size, cost, and quality from the perspective of maintaining healthy, viable communities); (4) "Size, Cost, and Quality of Schools and School Districts: A Question of Context" (Al Ramirez) (optimum size of educational institutions as an elastic concept related to institutional mission and setting and available resources); (5) "Small Is Beautiful" (Bethany Rogers) (evidence that a caring intimate environment lays the foundation for learning); and (6) "On Local Control: Is Bigger Better?" (Herbert J. Walberg) (states with lower achievement scores have bigger schools and districts and a larger percentage of educational funding provided by the state). 134p.

The Dimensions of Education: Recent Research on School Size.
Williams, Davant T.
(Clemson University, Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs, Clemson, SC , 1990)
This paper reviews selected research of the past decade concerning the optimal size of elementary and secondary schools in the United States. By quoting from primary sources, it seeks to present the character, substance, and trend of the school size debate; to identify principal researchers and findings; and to serve as a resource document. 26p.

Big School, Small School: High School Size and Student Behavior.
Barker, Roger G. and others
(Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA , 1962)
Studies were made in Kansas high schools to determine the effect of school size upon the behavior and experiences of students. The following areas were considered: the school involved in the study, the data gathered from records and research, out-of-school activities, and the place of high school students in the total life of four small towns. The assumption that a rich curriculum, varied extracurricular activities and good facilities necessarily mean rich experiences for the students is refuted. This refutation arises from the confusion between facilities and experiences. Most of the students showed that the greatest participation in student government and extracurricular activities, the largest percentage of students assuming leadership positions and responsibility, the most use made of a variety of courses offered, and the greatest involvement in community life came from those small school-small town adolescents. Schools are specialized environments established in order to produce certain educational opportunities and effects. However, without student participation, enthusiasm, and responsibility, the educational process is not fulfilled, regardless of excellent facilities. Therefore it appears that increasing school size, in and of itself, is a relatively ineffective means of achieving richness and variety in education. 296p.
Report NO: CRP-594

References to Journal Articles

How Big Is a 'Small' School?
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; , p98 ; Apr 2012
Defines not only the size of a small school, but also explores the atmosphere, the approach, and the community that defines a small school.

Déjà Vu: Is History Repeating Itself?
Moore, Deborah
School Planning and Management; v50 n2 , p6 ; Feb 2011
Reflects on historical school consolidations that were intended to achieve efficiency of educational delivery and superiority in math, science, and vocational education. That trend is presently being reversed in an atmosphere seeking smaller schools with more personalized educational delivery.

Putting Some Numbers Together.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v49 n11 , p74 ; Nov 2010
Uses national data to illustrate large and small average state school sizes, as well as average student-teacher ratios.

Creating a Small School from Scratch.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v48 n7 , p54 ; Jul 2009
Advises on how to create a high school for 400 or fewer students, with recommendation for siting and co-locating the facility with other community facilities, as well as creating a gathering place that can accommodate the entire school population.

How to Go from Large to Small.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v48 n6 , p66 ; Jun 2009
Advises on reorganizing large high schools into smaller learning academies. Recommended group sizes, along with separate academic facilities, commons areas, cafeterias, entrances, and support spaces are addressed.

Declining Enrollment. Adobe PDF
DeJong, William
School Construction News; v12 n4 , p10 ; May 2009
Reports a current decline in school enrollment and changes in student demographics that affect school size and design, particularly where renovations are indicated, but not necessiarily in the creation of new schools.

Nobody's There.
McMilin, Edward
School Planning and Management; v48 n2 , p38-40 ; Feb 2009
Addresses declining school enrollment in some regions, suggesting an organized and thoughtful procedure for closing a school, preparing and securing a school for vacancy, and maintaining a vacant school.

Decisions Need to be Based on More than Money.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v48 n1 , p94 ; Jan 2009
Addresses the urge to consolidate small school districts, advising that increased transportation costs and time, and creation of schools that are too large. Alternatives such as sharing teachers and distance learning are proposed.

Coming Together: The Pros and Cons of School Consolidation.
Dolph, David
School Business Affairs; v74 n11 , p26,27 ; Dec 2008
Reviews the benefits of school consolidation to curriculum and extracurricular offerings, staffing, student diversification, and financing. Possible disadvantages include loss of a sense of community around closed schools, opposition to levies from these constituents, and objection to large schools and classes. Includes three references.

Five Steps to Successful Security Upgrades.
Scherer, Matt
Campus Safety; v16 n5 , p26-30 ; Sep-Oct 2008
Describes a coordinated approach to campus security upgrades, with a multi-disciplinary group in charge of changes, careful budgeting, thorough training of students and staff on new security technologies, response to parents who are concerned about security, and flexibility built into the system.

The Cost of Comprehensive. (Rethinking Comprehensive High Schools.)
Chafin, Carl
American School Board Journal; v194 n4 , p64,65 ; Apr 2008
Suggests critical thinking before designing and funding elaborate comprehensive high school facilities that include particularly expensive accommodations for athletics, the performing arts, cafeterias, media centers, and science labs.
TO ORDER: American School Board Journal, 1680 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; Tel: 703-838-6722

Planning Small High Schools: Unique Challenges for Futuristic Thinking.
Hill, Franklin; Mrajcich, Mark; Kanning, Jeff
School Business Affairs; v74 n4 , p14-17 ; Apr 2008
Discusses the planning of small high schools, using the 225-student Red Lodge High School near Billings, Montana, as an example. Techniques for maximizing the budget and planning for the future are detailed.

Cleveland High School.
Architectural Record; , p56-59 ; Jan 2008
Reviews a design charrette for this St. Louis historic landmark. A plan for conversion of the facility into small learning communities was the outcome.

Visioning Improves Educational Facilities for Large School Districts.
Educational Facility Planner; v43 n1 , p24-26 ; 2008
Discusses how to manage planning in large and typically contentious school districts. Recommendations described include developing smaller and multiplexed schools, instituting new academic standards and accountability measures, compartmentalizing the district, allowing joint use of facilities, an establishing partnerships.

What's Small and Green?
Linn, Charles
Architectural Record; , p12-14 ; Jan 2008
Discusses the advantages of small and "green" schools, illustrated with two examples of schools that are both.

Maximize learning and Optimize Space with Small Learning Communities.
Hirth, Marilyn
School Business Affairs; v73 n11 , p12-14 ; Dec 2007
Reviews eleven benefits of smaller learning communities within larger schools, as well as four concerns for potential negative consequences. Several recommendations to districts considering creating them are included, along with nine references.

Form Follows Function.
Copeland, James
School Planning and Management; v46 n11 , pS12-S15 ; Nov 2007
Profiles basic security design features for high schools, illustrated with the new T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. These include creating small "academies" within the larger school and abundant daylighting.

More Security in Smaller Schools?
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v46 n7 , p62 ; Jul 2007
Highlights the higher incidence of student apathy and absenteeism in larger schools, and the opportunity for increased safety in smaller learning environments, where anonymity is unlikely, and responsible team of adults can know and care for a manageable number of students with whom they have regular contact.

The Big Box.
Gran, Warren; Krudwig, Kevin
American School and University; v70 n12 , p33,34,36 ; Jul 2007
Discusses issues related to reconfiguring a large school for smaller learning communities, including horizontal organization of each community; sharing of certain facilities such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, and laboratories; and security planning across a collection of small learning communities.

The Reformers.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v79 n11 , p18-20,22,24,25 ; Jun 2007
Discusses current trends in school reform, including smaller schools.

School Districts Have Learning Problems.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v46 n4 , p46 ; Apr 2007
Laments the slow adoption of smaller learning units within existing American high schools, reports that new high schools are doing much better in this regard, and presents statistics as evidence. Typical, but necessarily rational, reasons for building very large high schools are presented.

Keeping Facilities at the Core of the Education Plan.
DeJong, William
School Planning and Management; v46 n4 , p36-38 ; Apr 2007
Stresses the important role of quality school facilities in educational achievement. Schools within schools are promoted as a way to personalize learning and help students feel safe. Community involvement in facility planning, collaboration with businesses and universities, and suggestions on how to regularly assess and maintain high quality facilities are also discussed, as are imperatives of flexible facility design to accommodate evolving educational programs.

Move Toward Neighborhood-Scale Schools Slowly Gains Momentum
Langdon, Philip
New Urban News; Apr-May 2007
Decisions on where schools are built and how much land they occupy are gradually beginning to reflect New Urbanism’s belief in the importance of physically fitting the schools into their communities. This discusses school siting, minimum acreage requirements for schools, and using non-traditional structures and sites.

Making the Best Sense of Small Schools.
Learning By Design; n16 , p183 ; 2007
Discusses the planning of small schools, with advice on creating a sense of community, creating flexible learning environmnets, creating a common focus, and offering hands-on experience.
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Designing for Achievement: Processes, Principles and Patterns.
Bergsagel, Victoria
Educational Facility Planner; v42 n2/3 , p3-6 ; 2007
Explores how a school's physical space can influence philosophy and culture. Three recommended patterns are display of student work, transparency within the structure, and learning clusters. Several guiding principles for smart school design are offered, and perpetuation of comprehensive high school system is discouraged. Includes three references.

Evidence that Smaller Schools Do Not Improve Student Achievement.
Wainer, Howard; Zwerling, Harris L.
Phi Delta Kappan; v88 n4 , p300-303 ; Dec 2006
If more small schools than "expected" are among the high achievers, then creating more small schools would raise achievement across the board, many proponents of small schools have argued. In this article, the authors challenge the faulty logic of such inferences. Many claims have been made about the advantages of smaller schools. One is that, when schools are smaller, students' achievement improves, all else being equal, of course. Here, the authors point out that it does not imply that being small means having a greater likelihood of being high performing. Among other things, they discuss Pennsylvania's test scores, using statistics from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and point out that size of schools may matter.

Pioneer Spirit.
Long, Cindy
NEA Today; v25 n3 , p38-41 ; Nov 2006
Describes the plight of the lone two-room schoolhouse of Baldwin, North Dakota. Local residents face state legislative action that would force school district consolidation, the school's closure, and predicate the demise of the town, even though they have repeatedly voted to raise taxes in order to keep the school open.

When Large is Small. Adobe PDF
DeJong,William; Locker, Frank
American School Board Journal; v193 n10 , p39-41 ; Oct 2006
Reviews houses, academies, and magnets as ways to create smaller learning communities within large school environments. Advice on creating the right mix of spaces, communities, administration, and support systems is included.

Imminent Challenges.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v45 n6 , p66 ; Jun 2006
Suggests ways to create smaller learning units without losing some of the opportunities that large schools provide, emphasizing ways to use schools as community centers that accommodate a variety of non-school spaces and uses.

The Right Size School.
Black, Susan
American School Board Journal; v193 n4 , p63-65 ; Apr 2006
Reviews the state of rural schools, including their ongoing issues of student poverty, low achievement, and limited curriculum. Research indicating that impoverished students fare better in small schools than in large supports the retention of small rural schools. Competing trends of consolidation and school size reduction are also examined, as are situations where consolidation and smaller school size have been accomplished together. Includes 11 references.

A Good Resource.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v45 n2 , p66 ; Feb 2006
Suggests ways to help establish autonomous territories for small schools within larger facilities, even when cost constraints prohibit true separation of the schools. The use of interior building elements, distributed laboratories and cafeterias, and color identity are described.

Is Smaller Better?
Jehlen, Alain; Kopkowski, Cynthia
NEA Today; v24 n5 , p24-31 ; Feb 2006
Discusses the creation of smalls schools from a teacher's point of view, emphasizing that it can be done well or badly, depending on how "top-down" the reorganization is. Both advantages and disadvantages of small schools are enumerated, and case studies of small high schools in Kansas City, Kansas, and Oakland, California schools are provided. An interview with small school pioneer Deborah Meier is included.

Small Spaces, Big Rewards.
Boggio, Daniel
Educational Facility Planner; v41 n1 , p12-15 ; 2006
Describes some advantages of smaller learning communities, including more personalized teacher-student relations and collegiality among teachers. Privately and publicly funded programs that promote smaller learning communities are described, and an example is provided of small learning communities at work at Atascocita High in Humble, Texas. Includes seven references.

An Argument for an Unpopular Approach to School Planning.
Brosnan, Patrick; McDonough, James
Educational Facility Planner; v41 n1 , p7-11 ; 2006
Presents some advantages of large schools, including expanded curriculum, HVAC efficiency, more efficient student-to-staff ratios, and lower land costs. Examples of large schools organized into smaller learning environments are provided. Includes two references.

The Impact of Institutional Size on Student Engagement.
Kezar, Adrianna J.
NASPA Journal; v43 n1 , p87-114 ; 2006
This article reviews the results from an in-depth multisite case study of 20 institutions examining approaches to student engagement exploring differences by institutional type. The two research questions pursued were: Is size related to distinctive approaches for creating an engaging environment for students? If so, in what ways? The results demonstrate a relationship between size and four benchmarks. Implications for institutional and national policy are reviewed.

An Architectural Learning Revolution.
Massengale, Glenn
Learning By Design; n15 , p22-24 ; 2006
Discusses the virtues of small learning communities within large schools, illustrated with existing or under-construction examples from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
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Separate in Space and Concept.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v44 n12 , p38 ; Dec 2005
Describes why each small school within a larger facility must have its own entrance, cafeteria/commons, lavatories, and administrative center.

Nicasio School. Adobe PDF
CASH Register; , p8,10 ; Nov-Dec 2005
Profiles this small California K-8 school that features classrooms that host two grades each, community-use facilities, and preservation of the 1871 schoolhouse on the site.

From Small School to Harvard.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v44 n11 , p46 ; Nov 2005
Cites the case of a New York City high school student that was lost in a system of large schools, but found support in an small alternative school that enabled her to gain entrance to Harvard.

Small is Big.
Nair, Prakash; Fielding, Randall
Edutopia; v1 n8 , p26-28,30,32 ; Nov 2005
Defines small learning communities as a group of no more than 150 students and describes how they help create a sense of community. Examples of successful small learning communities that stand alone or are combined within a larger facility are provided.

Smaller Cheaper Better School.
LeClaire, Jennifer
Architecture Week ; Aug 24, 2005
Case study of the Harry S. Truman High School in Federal Way, Washington, by Mahlum Architect, is flexible enough to accommodate the "smaller is better" approach to education and innovative enough to win top honors from the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI). Truman is actually two semi-independent schools, each with 102 students, housed in a single-story, 23,000-square-foot facility. The master plan for the 8.8-acre campus also includes the King County Boys and Girls Club youth development center, a community Headstart daycare facility, and access to adjacent Steele Lake Park.

Is Small Beautiful?
Rethinking Schools ; v19 n4 ; Summer 2005
A special issue of Rethinking Schools with reports from New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Tacoma. Articles on teaching and learning in small schools, small schools for community power and social justice, privatization, union contracts and reform, the role of the Gates Foundation, and Small School Resources.

Small Wonders.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v77 n11 , p16-18,20,22 ; Jun 2005
Discusses the virtues of small schools, ways small school communities have been created within large schools, and the particular problem of creating adequate science facilities in "school within school" settings.

Schools within Schools: Best of Both Worlds.
Ostroff, Tracy
AIArchitect; Jun 2005
Describes the creation of small-scale learning environments within large schools in Florida, seeking the advantages of intimate class settings with the amenities of larger facilities. In the middle school cited features decentralized media centers, technology rooms, guidance centers, science labs, and exceptional student rooms.

Small Schools, Poverty, and the Achievement Gap.
Strange, Marty
School Business Affairs; v71 n5 , p20,22,23 ; May 2005
Discusses the mitigating effect of small schools in situations where poverty is an obstacle to educational achievement. In both rural and urban settings, large schools are shown to exacerbate the achievement gap between rich and poor. School size recommendations for poor, affluent, and mixed-income schools are offered, and benefits to small communities that retain their schools are described. Includes five references.

Big Time for Small Schools.
Carter, Kim
Techlearning; Mar 15, 2005
Discusses the growing number of small schools, as well as the reasons and means by which they are being formed. Examples of small schools founded around focused educational programs and personalization are offered, as well as information on performance-based assessments and teacher collaboration in small schools.

How Small Is Too Small?
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v44 n2 , p62 ; Feb 2005
Describes ways that small schools can be as viable as large schools in their curricular offering by providing students with technology, flexible space, access to local resources, and abandoning lock-step scheduling.

Chicago Public Schools Project. Big Design Ideas Suit Little Village High School.
Barner, Craig
Midwest Construction; Jan 2005
Several groups have had a dramatic impact on the design of the $51 million Little Village High School on Chicago's Southwest Side. They included residents of the Little Village neighborhood, the Chicago Public Schools, and the design and construction team itself. The "small schools" concept is driving the layout of the facility. Even though the structure will house 1,800 to 2,000 students, the 287,000-square-feet, two-story building will accommodate four separate schools. Each 450- to 500-student school will have its own administration, identity and principal, who will report to a master principal. But some spaces will be shared among the four schools, including the library and media center, two gymnasia, pool, cafeteria and 500-seat auditorium, as well as baseball and soccer fields outside.

Of Sprawl and Small Schools.
Goldberg, David
On Common Ground; , p6-11 ; Winter 2005
Describes the logistical and social consequences of building large, remote, and pedestrian-unfriendly schools, efforts to preserve neighborhood schools, and opportunities for breaking up large schools into smaller learning communities. Historical and curricular reasons for constructing large schools, and some of the benefits realized when communities created smaller, neighborhood schools are also discussed.

Class Size and Educational Policy: Who Benefits from Smaller Classes? Adobe PDF
Maasoumi , Esfandiar ; Millimet, Daniel L.; Rangaprasad,Vasudha
Econometric Reviews ; v24 n4 , p333 - 368 ; 2005
The impact of class size on student achievement remains an open question despite hundreds of empirical studies and the perception among parents, teachers, and policymakers that larger classes are a significant detriment to student development. This study sheds new light on this ambiguity by utilizing nonparametric tests for stochastic dominance to analyze unconditional and conditional test score distributions across students facing different class sizes. Analyzing the conditional distributions of test scores (purged of observables using class-size specific returns), we find that there is little causal effect of marginal reductions in class size on test scores within the range of 20 or more students. However, reductions in class size from above 20 students to below 20 students, as well as marginal reductions in classes with fewer than 20 students, increase test scores for students below the median, but decrease test scores above the median. This nonuniform impact of class size suggests that compensatory school policies, whereby lower-performing students are placed in smaller classes and higher-performing students are placed in larger classes, improves the academic achievement of not just the lower-performing students but also the higher-performing students. [Authors' abstract]

School Inflation. Adobe PDF
Berry, Christopher
Education Next; v4 n4 , p56-62 ; Fall 2004
Discusses the history of school consolidation, citing studies showing its effect on use of resources and academic achievement, with a detailed description of the author's own studies on the value of small schools as reflected in the wages of graduates.

Educational Equity and School Structure: School Size, Overcrowding, and Schools- Within-Schools. Adobe PDF
Ready, Douglas; Lee, Valerie; Welner, Kevin
Teachers College Record; v106 n10 ; Oct 2004
Discusses educational equity in relation to school size, school overcrowding, and schools-within-schools. The article is an interpretive summary of existing studies of these topics, concentrating on how these structural issues relate to social stratification in student outcomes, particularly academic achievement. Evidence is cited that define which size high schools are best for all students, which responses to school overcrowding are appropriate, and how creating smaller learning communities in high schools can work well for everyone by reducing the potential for internal stratification. California policies are shown to have actually exacerbated inequality in educational outcomes and assisted the transformation of the social differences students bring to school into academic differences.

Chicago to "Start Over" with 100 Small Schools.
Gewertz, Catherine
Education Week; v23 n42 , p1,21 ; Jul 14, 2004
Describes Chicago's initiative to convert at least ten percent of its schools into small schools, most of which will be privately run. The schools will be housed in existing buildings, with the district paying maintenance and equipment costs. Non-profits will assemble $50 million for remaining costs. Some community activists fear that the significant community input currently enjoyed will be eroded under the program. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

Merge Ahead: What Mandated Consolidation Could Mean for Your District.
Buchanan, Bruce
American School Board Journal; v191 n7 , p14-18 ; Jul 2004
Describes school consolidation programs for rural areas of Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Kansas, and West Virginia, along with efforts against them, especially in West Virginia.

A New Approach in Chicago.
Moore, Deb
School Planning and Management; v43 n7 , p8 ; Jul 2004
Describes Chicago's "Renaissance 2010 Neighborhood Schools Program," which aims to turn around the city's most troubled elementary and high schools by creating 100 new small neighborhood schools by 2010. One-third of the schools will be run by Chicago Public Schools, the other two-thirds as charter or contract schools. Civic and corporate entities are contributing financial and technical support.

In N.Y.C., Fast-Paced Drive for Small Schools.
Hendrie, Caroline
Education Week; v23 n41 , p1,22,23 ; Jun 23, 2004
Describes New York City's ambitious effort to create smaller high schools that often occupy space within large high schools. Partnerships with non-profits, successes, and failures are described, along with positive and negative reactions from supporters and detractors. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

High Schools Nationwide Paring Down.
Hendrie, Caroline
Education Week; v23 n40 , p1, 28-30 ; Jun 16, 2004
Describes increased interest in smaller high schools, government and private funding that is promoting their creation, questions concerning their staying power, and the lack of research on their benefits. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

If Small is Best, Why Stay Large?
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v43 n6 , p87 ; Jun 2004
Discusses the continuing trend to build large high schools, the reasons generally given for building them, and the mixed results of creating small schools within large ones.

Small School with a Big Heart.
Rideout, David
School Planning and Management; v43 n6 , p74-76 ; Jun 2004
Describes a new small school in rural Granum, Alberta, which avoided closure by creating this compact facility that accommodates multi-age learning, the latest audiovisual and laptop technology, and flexible classroom spaces.

Bigger or Better?
Moore, Deb
School Planning and Management; v43 n5 , p8 ; May 2004
Discusses areas in which very large schools have underperformed, in spite of high expectations, as well as areas in which small schools have excelled against expectations. The opinions of parents and teachers are discussed.

Size Matters.
Gehring, John
Teacher Magazine; v15 n6 ; Mar 2004
Describes Unity Junior High in Cicero, Illinois. This 4000-student capacity facility currently enrolls 2700 seventh and eighth graders and is organized into clusters to minimize student travel and promote the feeling of a smaller school. Positive and negative reactions toward the school's size from administrators, parents, and students are included.

Schools of Tomorrow.
Agron, Joe
American School and University; v76 n5 , p16-18,20-22,24-27 ; Jan 2004
Presents the opinions expressed at a roundtable of five education architects on school facilities and the issues of technology integration, community use, flexibility, sustainability, indoor environments, security, size, functionality, and adaptive reuse.

A Question of Scale.
Gehring, John
Education Week ; v 23, n14 , p26-29 ; Dec 03, 2003
Case study of the new state-of-the-art Unity Junior High School in Cicero, Illinois, built for 4,000 students and spread over 17 acres. The school has six basketball courts, two cafetoriums, 88 restrooms, eight faculty lounges, and a locker room that can hold 360 students. This large school flies in the face of the movement toward smaller schools. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

Shutting the Doors.
Wertz, Dan C.
American School Board Journal; v190 n11 , p26-28 ; Nov 2003
Describes the lengthy process and repercussions related to the decision by school board of the Okemos Public Schools in Ingham County, Michigan, to close an elementary school.

Sustaining Small Rural High Schools.
Howley, Craig
The School Administrator; v60 n9 , p16-19 ; Oct 2003
Offers several research-based recommendations for sustaining small high schools in rural communities, including: deciding to be small deliberately and not merely by default; working with community members to establish a local endowment for the high school; and making the school useful to the community.
TO ORDER: American Association of School Administrators, 801 N. Quincy St., Ste. 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730; Tel: 703-875-0745; Email:

Build “Smart.” Adobe PDF
McCann, Barbara; Beaumont, Constance
American School Board Journal; v190 n10 , p24-27 ; Oct 2003
Smart growth schools are small in size, encourage broad community involvement, and make good use of existing resources. Promoting small, community-based schools requires innovation, new partnerships, and a commitment to working to overcome the barriers presented by traditional rules and regulations.

Academy Rewards.
Schnitzer, Denise K.
American School Board Journal; v190 n8 , p20-23 ; Aug 2003
A renovation and addition to the 60-year old Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia, provided the opportunity for this large comprehensive high school to be divided into four smaller academies that allow students a more personal learning environment. Positive growth is shown in test scores, dropout rates, and the narrowing achievement gap between minority and majority students.

Redistribute Classrooms, Not Students.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v42 n7 , p50 ; Jul 2003
Supports the idea of intermingling subject areas within a building, so that the students do not travel as far, the teachers teach as a team, and the school feels smaller.

Comfort Zone.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v75 n8 , p20-25 ; Apr 2003
Discusses the benefits of smaller schools, asserting that students get the personal attention and sense of belonging that discourages them from falling through the cracks and stirring up trouble.

Is Smaller Better? When It Comes to Schools, Size Does Matter.
Cutshall, Sandy
Techniques: Connecting Education and Careers; v78 n3 , p22-25 ; Mar 2003
Research reveals better outcomes for smaller schools or smaller learning communities within schools. Data from 489 schools indicate that smaller size can be cost effective. In light of these findings, some states are changing policies that favored consolidation and larger schools.

Sizing up Smaller Classes.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v75 n6 , p16-20 ; Feb 2003
Discusses the financial risks of pursuing class-size reduction, especially as states are struggling to maintain spending levels, and the evidence concerning its benefits.

Designing and Building New Small Schools: New Skins for New Wine.
Washor, Elliot; Westberg, Laura; Mojkowski, Charles
Educational Facility Planner; v38 n3 , p25-28 ; 2003
Describes Providence's Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (The MET) and the process by which it was designed. The six small schools serve 120 students each. One is located at the University of Rhode Island, one stands alone, and the remaining four are grouped together as a campus. The schools combine academics and internships and are credited for dramatic college application and acceptance rates.

Scale Economies in Public Education: Evidence from School Level Data.
Bowles, Tyler J.; Bosworth, Ryan
Journal of Education Finance; v28 n2 , p285-300 ; Fall 2002
Begins with a discussion of cost and efficiency in education. Presents an empirical model to estimate school-level economies of scale. Applies model to expenditure data set by school from 17 Wyoming school districts. Finds that it costs more per student in a small school than in large schools to achieve similar educational outcomes, thus confirming economies-of-scale effects. (Contains 26 references.)

Urban Blight or Urban Hope?
Enderle, Jerry
School Planning and Management; v41 n10 , p38-41 ; Oct 2002
Discusses ways urban communities can improve neglected educational facilities, including converting existing commercial buildings into "new paradigm" schools and breaking large schools into small, specialized academies.

Why Small Schools Now?
Krysiak, Barbara H.; DiBella, Cecilia M.
School Business Affairs; v68 n7 , p25-29 ; Jul-Aug 2002
Reviews literature on small schools and school size. Describes the strengths of small schools, optimum school size, the impact of technology, relation to student achievement, public and educator concerns about school size, financial incentives for small schools, costs and benefits of constructing small schools, and administrative costs associated with small schools. (20 references)

It's All About Size. Why Every Community Should Start New Small Schools.
Vander Ark, Tom
American School Board Journal; v189 n7 , p34-35 ; Jul 2002
Author recommends that school boards should develop a new small schools policy for their districts that create new small schools and redesign large schools. This discusses research on why small schools are doing a better job of supporting student success, and describes several small school models. The challenges of creating the space for new schools can be solved by establishing them in existing space, community space, or leased space.

Small Works: Schools in Three States Showcase Virtues of Small Size.
Yaunches, Alison
Rural Roots; v3 n2 ; Apr 2002
This examines three small schools in Washington, Tennessee and Maine and provides anecdotal evidence identifying the characteristics of small schools that can help explain why small works, and that small, rural schools are worth saving.

The Influence of Scale.
Howley, Craig; Bickel, Robert
American School Board Journal; v189 n3 , p28-30 ; Mar 2002
Schools and districts with large number of economically disadvantaged students are likely to have higher average test scores if both are smaller. Larger school sizes, up to a reasonable limit, improve average test scores in affluent communities. Achievement among larger schools in larger districts shows the strongest relationship with socioeconomic class (SES); smaller schools in smaller districts show the weakest relationship with SES.

Why Size Matters.
Mason, Craig; Owen, Tim
School Planning and Management; v41 n3 , p36,38-40 ; Mar 2002
Discusses the benefits to student learning of smaller schools and offers profiles of schools designed to offer smaller-scale learning environments: Mariner High School in Mukitea, Washington, Prairie Elementary School in Worthington, Minnesota, and High Tech High in San Diego, California.

Small Schools: The Benefits of Sharing.
Nathan, Joe
Educational Leadership; v59 n5 , p71-75 ; Feb 2002
Describes how several small schools have collaborated with the community and shared facilities, such as a former church, a former carriage factory, a medical complex, and a community college. Some of these small schools use social-service agency staff, others create schools-within-schools, and still others become charter schools.

Using Small-Schools and Shared-Facilities Research.
Nathan, Joe
Principal Leadership; v2 n6 , p37-41 ; Feb 2002
Communities and administrators look at examples of small schools to demonstrate that small learning communities and shared spaces can contribute to student learning. Case studies include small schools of choice, shared facilities, and small, freestanding innovative high schools.

The Policy Environments of Small Schools and Schools-Within-Schools.
Raywid, Mary Anne
Educational Leadership; v59 n5 , p47-51 ; Feb 2002
Describes seven school downsizing models adopted by school districts in several states to create small schools and schools-within-schools, including inadequacy of "policy by exception." Discusses policy-related challenges of schools-within-schools and small schools. Argues that state and school district policies and structures need to support, not restrict school downsizing initiatives.

Personalization: Making Every School a Small School. Adobe PDF
Vander Ark, Tom
Principal Leadership; v2 n6 ; Feb 2002
Describes several techniques for creating a small school feeling within a large school, citing successful examples from various districts. These include grouping students and teachers into houses and teams, creating longer blocks of instruction, lowering student-teacher ratio, assigning students to a personal advisor. (Includes 9 references.)

Small Classes, Small Schools: The Time Is Now.
Wasley, Patricia A.
Educational Leadership; v59 n5 , p6-10 ; Feb 2002
Provides reasons why class size and school size are important school improvement ideas; highlights findings of selected research on class size and school size; relates personal teaching experience supporting benefits of both small classes and small schools; describes results of a study of an eight-teacher school-within-a-school in Chicago. (11 references)

Marble Fairbanks Architects. Chicago Public School.
Architecture; v91 n1 , p68-71 ; Jan 2002
Looks at the design features of a 120,000 square foot Chicago elementary urban school that accommodates 900 students, 25 percent of whom are disabled. The school is based on a small school design that can maintain a feasible budget while providing universal access. The design also helps the school blend into the surrounding urban neighborhood. Photographs and floor plans are included.

What Works and Why: The Learning by Design Review Panel Explores Trends and Challenges.
Cook, Glenn
Learning By Design; n11 , p6-7 ; 2002
A review of more than 100 educational facilities designs revealed common themes: desire for small communities of learners even in large schools, facilities that reflect the community they serve, and larger, more flexible classroom spaces that serve a variety of subject areas. Also noted was an "everything old is new again" trend and attention to safety.
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Historical Perspectives on Small Schools.
Hampel, Robert L.
Phi Delta Kappan; v83 n5 , p357-63 ; Jan 2002
Presents five beliefs related to the small schools versus large schools debate: Differences matter more than similarities, a large building offers more opportunities, larger schools attract better teachers and administrators, small schools reflect provincial values, and what matters most is class size. Discusses two implications for advocates of small schools. (Contains 28 references.)

Smaller, Saner Schools: Using Research on Small Schools and Shared Facilities To Help Children and Communities.
Nathan, Joe
Learning By Design; n11 , p14-16 ; 2002
Describes several schools that have embraced the trend toward smaller schools and shared facilities, resulting in higher student achievement and improved morale for students, faculty, and parents.
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Research: Smaller is Better.
Viadero, Debra
Education Week; v21 n13 , p28-29 ; Nov 28, 2001
Examines the apparent disconnect between society's view that smaller schools are better and the continuing trend to build larger schools. Discusses the pros and cons of smaller versus larger schools. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

Small or Large? The Debate over School Size.
Communicator (newsletter of the National Assn. of Elementary School Principals); Nov 2001
The article describes recent findings on the school size debate, national trends, and pros and cons on the issue. The article includes a glossary of school size configuration options: house plan, minischool, school-within-a-school, and small school.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.
Hill, David
Education Week; v21 n6 , p34-39 ; Oct 10, 2001
Large schools, once seen as offering a better-quality education, are now blamed for students' isolation and disengagement from learning. This discusses the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grants program to create small high schools, and profiles Tom Vander Ark, the program's executive director. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

Building Blocks; How Schools are Designed and Constructed Affects How Students Learn.
Black, Susan
American School Board Journal; v188 n10 , p44-47 ; Oct 2001
Studies show that deteriorating school facilities take their toll on students' and teachers' health and morale. Classrooms should be accessible to the outdoors; clustered around a commons; adaptable and flexible; and aesthetically pleasing. Architects say natural lighting and noise reduction are routine parts of their job. Research studies support the concept of small schools or subdivisions that create a sense of smallness. Sidebars list factors school officials should keep in mind when choosing an architect, and selected references.

Innovative School Design for Small Learning Communitites.
Davidson, Jill
Horace Journal; v18 n1 ; Fall 2001
A cadre of Coalition of Essential schools aims to change the vision of educational architecture. They have remade the physical structures of schools to support small learning communities and include radiant streams of sunlight, wireless networks and handheld computers, window seats, balconies, triple-story atriums, curved passageways, upholstered furniture, multi-function meeting rooms, huge closets and rooftop gardens.

School Design: An Architect's View.
Lackney, Jeffery
Horace; v18 n1 ; Fall 2001
Architect and educator Jeffery A. Lackney created "Thirty-Three Principles of Educational Design" to focus school planners on the goal of creating intimate, human-scaled, flexible, and enduring educational spaces. A handful of the principles are adapted in this article to help schools take advantage of opportunities to create small effective learning environments both within new school buildings and within existing spaces.

Thinking Small.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v74 n1 , p16-18,20,22 ; Sep 2001
Presents a detailed case for smaller schools in providing a better learning environment; explains what a small school is and discusses the extent to which some districts are embracing small- school programs.

The Breakup: Suburbs Try Smaller High Schools.
Gewertz, Catherine
EducationWeek; v20 n33 , p1,16 ; May 02, 2001
Explains how the West Clermont Local School District (Cincinnati) turned both its high schools into six smaller schools and improved educational quality. Community and parental involvement are addressed as is a discussion on school size versus academic improvement.

Head of the Class.
Hawkins, Beth Leibson
Facilities Design & Management; v20 n5 , p38-41 ; May 2001
Discusses public education trends and ways in which schools can support these initiatives through smaller school design. Planning community schools that make a positive contribution to students and the community is explored.

Making a Huge School Feel Smaller.
Schoenlein, James
Educational Leadership; v58 n6 , p28-30 ; Mar 2001
Staff at an Ohio high school with 1,200 students decided to create a more welcoming, supportive place for all students; initiate advisory periods; put up student pictureboards; provide career-exploration and social development opportunities, and radiate a steady diet of caring and friendly attention.

Costly Lessons.
Pearson, Clifford A.
Architectural Record; v189 n2 , p131-33 ; Feb 2001
Discusses the criticism of building large, community-isolated K-12 schools and provides examples of how today's architects and school districts are cooperating to replace these schools with smaller, more community-friendly ones.

Small Schools, Great Strides.
Bracey, Gerald W.
Phi Delta Kappan; v82 n5 , p413-14 ; Jan 2001
Large high schools offer more specialized curricula, but are problematic. Experts think smaller schools raise minority/low-income student achievement, reduce violent and disruptive incidents, combat anonymity, increase attendance and graduation rates, and operate most cost-effectively. Recent studies corroborate these findings and small classes' returns to society.

Forming Small Learning Communities: Implementing Neighborhoods in an Existing High School.
Lackney, Jeffery A.
Educational Facility Planner; v36 n3 , p5-10 ; 2001
Outlines a longitudinal study of a Midwest urban high school to investigate the design of smaller learning communities within large school buildings. Explores the role of the physical environment in forming small learning communities. Examines how the school's physical environment contributes to sociability. Discusses the role that youth participation plays in forming small learning communities.

Smaller Schools: How Much More than a Fad?
Muir, Edward
American Educator; v24 n4 , p40-46 ; Winter-Spring 2001
The movement back to smaller schools is not just another fad, but there are many questions about the effects of school size that need to be addressed (e.g., the effect of school size on student achievement; the importance networking between students, parents, and teachers; cost differences; and long-term social benefits for students).

How Large Should a School Be? Researching the Relationship Between Circulation Space and Program Space.
Fielding, Randall
School Construction News; v2 n7 , p10-11 ; Nov-Dec 2000
Offers research and opinion on the amount of space an average K-12 school should devote to programmed space versus circulation space. Includes detailed space utilization data from several schools located in Michigan.

Shrinking High Schools.
Kacan, George M.; Schipp, Michael K.
American School and University; v73 n3 , p442-44 ; Nov 2000
Discusses the "schools-within-schools" design concept used to transform their large educational facilities into more intimate learning communities. Some ideas on how school districts can create smaller settings and more intimate learning communities within their larger schools are explored.

Big Talk About Small Schools.
Coburn, Janet
Today's School; Fall 2000
Article cites several recent studies advocating smaller school facilities and enrollment sizes and claims that smaller schools boost student achievement.

Class Size and Student Performance: A Framework for Policy Analysis.
Addonizio, Michael F.; Phelps, James L.
Journal of Education Finance; v26 n2 , p135-56 ; Summer-Fall 2000
A survey of one national and three statewide studies (in Tennessee, Texas, and Alabama) of class-size achievement effects revealed no consistent pattern across various subjects and grade levels. However, smaller classes can improve student achievement, particularly in early grades and when teacher quality remains constant. (Contains 36 footnotes.)

Jack and the Giant School
Mitchell, Stacy
The New Rules; v2 n1 ; Summer 2000
A growing number of critics question whether big schools produce better students. This summarizes American school size trends—from small learning communities in the early and mid part of the past century, to the Post World War II shift towards large, comprehensive schools, to rising support for the small schools movement today. Issues such as school governance, urban and rural locations and the future of the movement are examined.

Huge Middle School Tries To Feel Small.
Jacobson, Linda
Education Week; v19 n35 , 1,16-17 ; May 10, 2000
Discusses a school-within-a-school structure used at the Creekland Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia that allows students to reap some of the same benefits they would receive if they were in a school with a much smaller enrollment. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

High School Size: Effects on Budgets and Performance in New York City.
Stiefel, Leanna; Berne, Robert; Iatarola, Patrice; Fruchter, Norm
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis; v22 n1 , p27-39 ; Spring 2000
Combines budget and performance information to study the effects of high school size. Suggests that since small high schools are more effective for minority and poor students, and the budget per student is found to be similar for small and large schools, policymakers might support the creation of more small high schools.

Big Lessons on a Small Scale
Northwest Education Magazine; v6 n2 ; Winter 2000
Among educators and policymakers there is a growing respect for learning that takes place within small schools. This considers definitions and examples of smallness and the costs associated with downsizing.

Grand Prize Winner Profile: Manassas Park High School.
Learning By Design; n9 , p8-9 ; 2000
Profiles the award-winning Manassas Park High School design that took a small school with limited land space and created small-scale learning communities from it. Interior and exterior photos are included.
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One Room, Many Lessons.
Schoolhouse of Quality; v4 n1 , p8-11 ; Winter 2000
Explores the lessons learned about education revealed from the one-room schoolhouse, including what these types of schoolhouses would look like today if they were resurrected. Parental bonding and involvement, teaching across grade levels and subjects, and the non- threatening atmosphere one-room schoolhouses offered are discussed.

How Small Schools Increase Student Learning (and What Large Schools Can Do About It).
Cushman, Kathleen
Principal; v79 n2 , p20 ; Nov 1999
As research continues to show that bigger schools are not necessarily better, educators are finding innovative ways to shrink them.

School Size, Cost, and Quality.
Lawton, Stephen B.
School Business Affairs; v65 n11 , p19-21 ; Nov 1999
A 1970s research summary concluded that student participation decreases with increasing institutional size and that a school should be sufficiently small to need all of its students for its enterprises. Engaged students attend regularly, whereas marginalized students drift away. K-8 schools should not enroll more than 500 students. (Contains 12 references.)

Where Everybody Knows Your Name: The Beauty of Small Schools.
Capps, William R.; Maxwell, Mary Ellen
American School Board Journal; v186 n9 , p35-36 ; Sep 1999
The trend toward bigness and consolidation continues unabated, driven by political, economic, social, and demographic considerations, rather than extensive research attesting to small schools' educational benefits. School size influences social interaction and degree of student alienation. We need to reclaim the small school's sense of community, caring, and meaning.

Building Design for Greater Security.
Peters, Ronald
School Planning and Management; v38 n8 , p36-38 ; Aug 1999
Discusses school design concepts that can help create safer schools that provide a supportive environment where teachers can know their students better and where continuity of learning is fostered. Emphasis is away from building large scale schools to more compact learning environments.

For High Schools, Small is Beautiful
Solomon, Burt
National Journal; , p1484, 1485 ; May 29, 1999
Argues that high schools should downsize in order to make them more intimate, less dangerous, and more effective. Further, it argues that smaller classes, not smaller schools, are the answer to greater student achievement; and explains why urban schools, the schools that research shows would benefit the most from downsizing, will have problems doing so.

When it Comes to School Size, Smaller is Better.
Rotherham, Andrew
Education Week; v18 n24 , p76+ ; Feb 24, 1999
Research now shows that oversized schools are a detriment to student achievement, especially for poor children. Even assuming that larger schools did equate to more fiscal efficiency, diverse curriculum, and extracurricular activities, these factors have not translated into better student achievement. In fact, the research points to the finding that smaller schools help to promote learning.

Learning by Design 99 Grand Prize Winner: Centennial Middle School
Learning By Design; i8 , p6-7 ; 1999
Describes the award-winning design of the Centennial Middle School (Minnesota) that was built to hold 1,800 students but designed not seem impersonal or institutional. It explains a design approach that helped give the school a small feel despite its large size while also complementing the surrounding community.

A Sum of Its Parts.
Gisolfi, Peter A.
American School and University; v71 n5 , p29,30,32 ; Jan 1999
Examines the school-within-a-school approach to middle- school design in creating multiple specialized learning environments for students. Planning and designing these types of school environments are discussed with emphasis on not confining or restricting students from experiencing the larger school environment's other functions and activities.

School Size Matters: Small Schools Create Communities with Results
Galletti, Susan
Schools in the Middle; v 8 n1 , p24-7 ; Sep 1998
According to an increasing body of research, small middle level schools produce more positive results than large middle level schools. Research into school size suggests that smaller schools facilitate higher achievement, have a lower incidence of negative social behavior, positively influence the social behavior of minority students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and provide for more equality for students.

The Effect of School Size on Exam Performance in Secondary Schools
Bradley, Steve; Taylor, Jim
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics; v60 n3 , p271-325 ; Aug 1998
Examines the effects of school size on exam performance for pupils in their final year of compulsory education in England. Background information about English secondary schools and the determinants of exam performance are discussed along with a description of the variables used in the econometric analysis and their expected effects on exam performance.

Smaller is Better.
Anderson, Veronica
Catalyst: Voices of Chicago School Reform; May 1998
Article in which the author claims that all other things being equal, elementary schools with fewer than 350 children are likely to be more successful than larger ones.

An Optimal Size for High Schools?
Bracey, Gerald E.
Phi Delta Kappan; v79 n5 , p406 ; Jan 1998
Using 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade data for the same students from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study, researchers examined achievement growth for schools with 100 to 2,800 students. Math achievement rises as school size increases to about 600 students, holds steady to about 900 students, and then diminishes. Overall, students gained more in high-socioeconomic status schools, regardless of school size.

School Size: Is Small Better? Adobe PDF
Lashway, Larry
National Association of Elementary School Principals Research Roundup; v15 n1 ; Winter-Spring 1998
This bulletin contains synopses of five works that consider the issue of school size from a variety of viewpoints. (1) "School Size' School Climate, and School Performance" (Kathleen Cotton) reviews the research evidence on school size, finding strong support for the advantages of small schools. (2) "Is Bigger Really Better?" (Kenneth Stevenson and Leonard Pellicer) examines a number of studies and concludes that neither small nor large schools have a decisive advantage. (3) "Taking Stock: The Movement to Create Mini-Schools, Schools-Within-Schools, and Separate Small Schools" ( Mary Anne Raywid) discusses different ways that small schools can be nurtured within large buildings. (4) "The Big Benefits of Smallness" (Deborah W. Meier), drawing from the author's experience as a small-school pioneer, describes the many benefits of small schools. (5) "Smaller Is Better" (Veronica Anderson) tells how one elementary school in Chicago has transformed itself from a large school to a cluster of small schools in the same building.

Is Bigger Really Better?
Stevenson, Kenneth R.; Pellicer, Leonard O.
School Business Affairs; v64 n1 , p18-23 ; Jan 1998
The national trend toward consolidating schools has been driven by numerous factors, including fascination with economies of scale. Although small schools can claim advantages arising from a more intimate, caring atmosphere, large schools can boast specialized faculty teaching more sophisticated curricula. There is no optimal school size. Well-trained, dedicated teachers, visionary leaders, involved parents, and supportive communities are essential. (23 references)

Dumbing Down by Sizing Up.
Howley, Craig
The School Administrator; v54 n9 , p24-26,28,30 ; Oct 1997
Professional educators may be behind the times in their thinking about school size. Many educational leaders mistakenly believe that large schools provide better learning environments at less cost than smaller schools. Actually, there are few conclusive before-and-after consolidation studies, consolidation does not seem to save money, and small schools seem particularly productive for poor kids. Nonmonetary "diseconomies" of scale can plague larger schools.
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Does School Size Affect Quality of School Life?
Mok, Magdalena; Flynn, Marcellin
Issues in Educational Research; v7 n1 , p69-86 ; 1997
This paper examines two related research questions. First, is size of school a predictor of students' quality of school life? Second, what attributes of small and large schools contribute to quality of school life? Two samples were included, furnishing both quantitative and qualitative data. The first sample comprised 4,949 Year 12 students from 44 Catholic high schools and the second 570 students from 1 independent and 9 government schools in NSW. Both qualitative and quantitative data analyses found no apparent relationship between school size and quality of school life. [Authors' abstract]

An Economical, Thorough, and Efficient School System: The West Virginia School Building Authority "Economy of Scale" Numbers
Purdy, Deirdre H.
Journal of Research in Rural Education; v13 n3 , p170-182 ; Winter-Spring 1997
The West Virginia School Building Authority has arbitrarily emphasized economies of scale as a requirement for statewide facilities funding. This requirement has forced consolidation in sparsely populated areas with resultant "diseconomies of scale" related to transportation costs, increased dropout rates, and decreased parental and community involvement. Proposes changes in school funding criteria to reflect statutory goals. Contains 45 references.

How One Community Rejected the Monolithic High School.
Carnes, Mark C.
Education Week; v16 n1 , p48,51 ; September 04, 1996
Describes how community members from Newburgh, New York, successfully battled against a school board proposal that called for expanding the town's high school to an enrollment of over 3,000 students. Rejects the notion that "bigger is better" and criticizes state funding formulas that create large schools by offering higher reimbursement rates for district consolidation and school expansion. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

The Big Benefits of Smallness.
Meier, Deborah W.
(Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA, Sep 1996)
Educational Leadership; Vol. 54, No. 1 ; Sep 1996
Describes the many benefits of small schools, including simpler and more effective governance, mutual respect, simplification of the organization, enhanced safety, more involved parents, simplified accountability, and a sense of "belonging."

Size Matters
Black, Susan
Executive Educator; v18 n4 , p31-33 ; Apr 1996
Administrators everywhere should advocate smaller schools. Tom Sergiovanni says small size is a prerequisite for transforming schools into communities of learners. Other researchers find that small schools enhance personal relationships, are more intellectually oriented, and enhance student participation and academic performance. Administrators should exchange their entrepreneurial, "gesselschaft" mindscapes for caring, "gemeinschaft" communities. (13 references)

Elementary School Student Capacity: What Size Is the Right Size?
Educational Facility Planner; v33 n4 , p10-14 ; 1996
Discusses and analyzes the relationship between school size and student achievement in South Carolina elementary schools. Schools with high student achievement were determined by the winners of the South Carolina Department of Education cash incentive award -- an award based upon student gains and standardized test scores. Contrary to popular opinion, results show smaller is not necessarily better when it comes to learning. The bigger schools were more likely than the smaller schools to show higher student achievement. Similarly, smaller schools were more likely to be "dysfunctional" than the bigger schools. However, while a positive relationship between size and achievement did exist, the relationship was not strong. Socioeconomic status seemed to be an intervening variable.

School Size and Student Outcomes.
Fowler, William
Advances in Educational Productivity; v5 , p3-26 ; Jan 1995
Reviews literature examining the relationship between secondary school size and student achievement. A variety of sources spanning thirty years are summarized, and their findings on the effect of school size on student attitude, achievement, non-academic participation, and dropout rate compared. Includes 44 references.

Developmental and Environmental Psychology: A Microgenetic Developmental Approach to Transition from a Small Elementary School to a Big Junior High School.
Yamamoto, Takiji; Ishii, Shinji
Environment and Behavior; v27 n1 , p33-42 ; 1995
Compares the transition of students from a small elementary school to a large and a comparably small junior high school. Students transitioning to a similar-sized junior high school had better attendance, reduced stress, and less aggressive behavior.



Due to lack of funding, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities is currently available only as an archived site. As of September 1, 2012 no new content will be added or updates made. We regret the need to take such steps, but should funding become available, we look forward to reinvigorating NCEF and providing this valuable resource to the educational facilities community.

If you have questions or are an organization or company wishing to support the continued operation of this industry recognized resource please contact Institute President Henry Green (, 202-289-7800).