SCHOOL SIZE/SMALL SCHOOLS
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
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
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?
(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.
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.
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.
References to Journal Articles
How Big Is a 'Small' School?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.