Is School Size Important? A Study of the Relationship Between School Size and Advanced Achievement in Public Secondary Schools in Virginia

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Virginia Tech

The primary focus of the current study was to determine if there is a relationship between size of high school and advanced academic achievement as measured by the Virginia Index of Performance while statistically controlling for multiple combinations of the following variables; socioeconomic status, urbanicity of school, per-pupil expenditure, and student-teacher ratio. The combinations of variables used in the current study were determined by knowledge gained in the review of the literature.

Level of award on the Virginia Index of Performance, school enrollment, percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch prices, per-pupil expenditures, student-teacher ratios, and school locale were collected for all high schools in Virginia with 9th-12th grade configurations for school years 2006-07 through 2008-09. A sequential multiple regression analysis was conducted using level of Virginia Index of Performance award earned as the dependent variable and school size as the primary predictor variable while statistically controlling for per-pupil expenditure, student-teacher ratio, socioeconomic status, and urbanicity in different combinations.

The analyses performed on the collected data revealed that school size, when other variables were accounted for, was not a significant predictor of performance on the Virginia Index of Performance incentive program. When the analyses were performed for Research Question 2, however, socioeconomic status was found to be a significant predictor of performance on the Virginia Index of Performance incentive program.

Multiple limitations should be noted when interpreting the results of the analyses. The main limitations to the current study were a restricted population of schools due to confines placed on grade configurations of schools included in the study and the initial criteria of making Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years in order to be eligible to receive an award in the Virginia Index of Performance program. The combination of these restrictions resulted in a large number of schools being excluded from the current study. Due to the range restrictions placed on the studied population, the relationship between size of school and advanced student achievement could be stronger than reported. Future research should include a less restricted population of schools and other measures of advanced student achievement.

student-teacher ratio, sequential multiple regression, per-pupil expenditure, urbanicity, socioeconomic status, regression, school size, Virginia Index of Performance (V.I.P), advanced proficiency, advanced achievement, achievement