An investigation of the relationship between size of elementary school and academic achievement
Rohr, Harry Philip
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Local school districts throughout the country are experiencing declining enrollment, frequently resulting in the need to close elementary schools. Often, the decision on which school to close is dependent on the size (enrollment) of the schools being considered. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between size of elementary school and academic achievement. The sample used in this study was composed of grade 3 and 5 students in the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools who were administered the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and Cognitive Abilities Test during the 1977-78 school year and attended an elementary school with grades K-6 (approximately 13,000 pupils). Vari.ables which have been found in previous studies to have a relationship with achievement were employed in this study as control variables. These were aptitude, percentage of low-income pupils, race, sex, highest degree status of professional staff, years of experience of teachers, and class size. The statistical methodology employed in this study was multiple regression analysis. This technique was selected to evaluate the contribution of a single variable, school size, to academic achievement while controlling for other, confounding variables. Twelve multiple regression analyses were conducted--one for each of the five Iowa Tests of Basic Skills major skill areas (vocabulary, reading comprehension, language skills, work-study skills, and mathematics skills) and composite scores for both grades 3 and 5. It was found, for all the analyses that elementary school size did not make a significant contribution to the variance in academic achievement. Also, on the basis of the data available and for the students tested, it was concluded that there is no elementary school size which maximizes academic achievement, nor is there a minimum or maximum elementary school size beyond which academic achievement is adversely affected. Therefore, it was recommended that the decision on which elementary school(s) to close should not rest on a perceived relationship between school size and academic achievement. Other factors, such as financial considerations, transportation implications, and utilization and condition of the school plant, should be of primary concern.
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