From time to time, we at Better Ed have noted the consolidation trend in school districts across America. In Minnesota, for example, the number of school districts has declined from 7,607 districts in 1947 to 328 today.
As the numbers of school districts shrink, the size of individual schools naturally grows. Because large schools normally have more to offer – including more advanced classes, better sports training, and greater extracurricular activities – the consolidation of small schools might not seem like that much of a problem. But recent studies are suggesting otherwise.
The studies focus on New York public schools, some of which were downsized nearly 15 years ago in an effort to create schools with only 100 students per grade. Thus, an average high school would have a student body of about 400 instead of several thousand.
These new small schools are overwhelmingly populated by minority and disadvantaged students, yet they are seeing significant benefits when compared to other larger schools in New York. These advantages include: