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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. (Author/SV)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Achievement Gains, Equal Education, High School Students, High Schools, Minority Groups, School Effectiveness, School Size, Socioeconomic Status

Author: Lee, Valerie E.; Smith, Julia B.

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=12515&id=ED396888

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