Study: Small School Districts Impede Academic Achievement

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By Andrew Pillow

You often hear people talk about the benefits of smaller schools and districts. The narrative goes like this: Smaller districts and schools have less students and therefore the staff and teachers are more likely to treat students like a person instead of a number.

Well according to a new study out of Ball State University, smaller school districts lag behind in academic achievement relative to their large counterparts:

“Students attending small school corporations (enrollment of < 2,000 students) face resource constraints that impede secondary school performance, as measured by standardized test scores and pass rates. These constraints are likely to restrict post-secondary educational opportunities and outcomes.”

According to the study the main reason for the struggle of small districts is the lack of resources.

The study was commissioned by the Indiana Chamber. The Indiana Chamber has adopted the position that smaller districts should consolidate and pull resources to provide a better education for its students.

Anytime you talk about consolidating or closing schools people get defensive. But according to Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar, this study is all about insuring that Indiana is more efficient with the way they spend on education:

"It's about reducing per pupil administrative costs to put more money into classrooms, increasing pay for deserving teachers, making more STEM classes available and, most importantly, helping ensure the best possible student outcomes," he said.

This type of study is especially relevant for Indiana because almost half of the state’s school corporations have less than 2000 students.  

Read the full study here.

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.