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Do Smaller Schools Work? Jennifer L. Fong Joint Doctoral Program, UC Berkeley SFSU, SJSU, CSU-EB A Preliminary Look at the Effectiveness of Small Schools.

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Presentation on theme: "Do Smaller Schools Work? Jennifer L. Fong Joint Doctoral Program, UC Berkeley SFSU, SJSU, CSU-EB A Preliminary Look at the Effectiveness of Small Schools."— Presentation transcript:

1 Do Smaller Schools Work? Jennifer L. Fong Joint Doctoral Program, UC Berkeley SFSU, SJSU, CSU-EB A Preliminary Look at the Effectiveness of Small Schools and Smaller Learning Communities in California

2 Background Background Academic Joint Doctoral Program in Urban Educational Leadership (UC Berkeley, SFSU, CSU-EB, SJSU) Member, First Cohort Research design proposal to be submitted for review this summer Stanford, M.A., Educational Administration & Policy Analysis; Prospective Principal’s Program, 2000 Yale, B.A., Biology; Teacher Preparation Program, 1993 Professional Assistant Principal, Mission HS, San Francisco Unified School District, since 2001 Science Teacher, Mission HS, Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching for California, 2000 Elementary School Teacher, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Science Teacher, H.S. for Environmental Studies, New York City, Informal Educator, New York Botanical Garden,

3 Rationale for Research Small schools and smaller learning communities are popular. Numerous non-research articles support the small school concept. The Federal Government has awarded $281 million dollars during the first three fiscal years of its Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) program. The Gates Foundation reports that it has awarded $733 million to high school reform.

4 Rationale for Research Is small school reform really worth over $1 billion dollars? What evidence demonstrates whether small school reform is producing results in America’s high schools? What role does small school reform play in closing the achievement gap?

5 Preliminary Research Plan To research the effectiveness of smaller schools and smaller learning communities, as measured by the graduates who are UC-eligible. To analyze the effectiveness of smaller schools and SLCs in closing the achievement gap.

6 Preliminary Source of Data The preliminary research proposal looks at a California high school database compiled by UC Berkeley Professor Bernard Gifford.

7 Definitions Used in This Poster There is no clear consensus in the literature about the size of small schools. This poster defines these categories: Very Small<250 students Small students Medium students Large students Very Large>2001 students Minority students include African-American, Latino, Native American students.

8 Key Research Questions Are smaller schools in California more effective than larger schools? Are smaller schools able to produce greater percentages of graduates who are UC eligible? Are smaller schools able to more effectively narrow the achievement gap? Do schools which participate in the SLC program demonstrate greater effectiveness than non-SLC schools? Does the initial year a school receives funding have an impact on the schools’ ability to produce graduates who are UC eligible?

9 Importance of Research Few peer-reviewed, experimental research pieces exist in the literature regarding small schools, although many popular articles, reviews and handbooks advocate for small schools. The existing literature suggest that small schools may: Produce increased achievement Result in increased student participation and satisfaction with school Lead to increased staff coordination Promote equity for all students

10 Importance of Research This research could have a significant impact on California schoolchildren. Large and very large schools account for 1.4 million high school students, or 94% of the 9-12 regular high school population. Very large schools average more than 50% minority students.

11 Impact on California 843 Comprehensive High Schools (9-12) 75% have more than 1000 students Category Number of Students Number of SchoolsPercentage Very Small< % Small % Medium % Large % Very Large> %

12 All UC eligible graduates Very Small31.7% Small38.9% Medium32.4% Large38.6% Very Large35.9% Minority UC eligible graduates Very Small21.5% Small30.6% Medium24.4% Large25.8% Very Large25.8% Small Schools have: highest rates of UC eligibility overall & for minority students narrowest achievement gap

13 Preliminary Findings Small schools Small schools have highest UC eligibility rates for all students & for minority students. Smaller schools may be more effective at closing the achievement gap and promoting equity for minority students.

14 Preliminary Findings Smaller Learning Communities An initial review shows that the achievement gap is lower in SLC schools than non-SLC schools Also, the achievement gap narrows, or improves, the longer the SLC school has received funding.

15 More than 55% of the very small and 40% of small schools show no achievement gap Total # of schools # with no achievement gap % of schools within category Very Small % Small % Medium % Large % Very Large % Grand Total843143

16 The opposite is worth stating: 90% of large and very large schools show an achievement gap. Category Schools with achievement gap % of schools within category Very Small2641.3% Small2360.5% Medium7070.7% Large % Very Large % Grand Total698

17 Schools WITH an achievement gap (by size category) 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% 100.0% Very SmallSmallMediumLargeVery Large Size Category Percentage

18 Schools with NO achievement gap (by size category) 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% Very SmallSmallMediumLargeVery Large Size Category Percentage

19 Preliminary data on SLCs Average Not part of SLC Achievement gap -7.0%-9.0%-9.7%-10.3%-10.9% Minority UC eligible graduates 26.1%30.4%23.5%22.9%25.5% All UC eligible graduates 33.1%39.5%33.2%33.3%36.4% Percentage minority 58.7%64.3%60.8%60.4%45.9%

20 The Longer a School Participates in the SLC Program, the Narrower the Achievement Gap 0.0% 2.0% 4.0% 6.0% 8.0% 10.0% 12.0% Non-SLC SLC Initial Funding Year or Non-SLC School Size of Achievement Gap

21 Conclusions Smaller schools appear to have a positive impact on achievement gap of California high schools. Similarly, the achievement gap in schools with Smaller Learning Communities is narrower than non-SLC schools. It appears that small schools and (larger) schools with smaller learning communities may indeed be worth the millions of dollars being invested in them. Additional data needs to be collected and analyzed in order to more fully address these research questions.


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