School size and student outcomes

The purpose of this study was to investigate school size and student achievement levels in middle schools and high schools in a region in southern California. The achievement data of students in large and small high schools and middle schools were compared. Results from the mathematics, reading, and language subtests of the Stanford Achievement Test, Ninth edition (SAT-9), for the 2000-2001 school year were used. Data were compared between eighth graders in 36 middle schools and juniors in 32 high schools in northern San Diego county and southern Orange County. SAT-9 data were obtained from the California Department ofEducation. Students were also surveyed for degree of satisfaction with their schools. A negative correlation was found between middle school size and eighth grade achievement; however, this correlation was not found at the high school level. Regression analyses indicated the number and percent of economically disadvantaged students were most predictive ofSAT-9 scores. T-tests showed a significant difference between the achievement of small and large middle schools and small and large eighth grade sizes in favor of smaller sizes; high school T -tests favored larger schools. Survey results were nearly identical at the large and small high schools sampled, while the smaller middle schools showed significantly higher student satisfaction than at the larger middle school.