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HomeFind a SchoolDefining Your Ideal School

How Important Is School Size?

Page 3 of 3

By GreatSchools Staff

Conclusions

  • It's easier to develop more meaningful connections among staff, students and parents in small schools.
  • Large schools may lack a sense of community, but small schools aren't able to offer as wide a range of activities and a broad curriculum.
  • Some studies have shown that small schools demonstrate higher achievement levels among students.
  • The right size school for your child will depend on his or her needs for attention, curricular offerings and activities.
  • Size is only one factor to look at in evaluating a school; the quality of the teachers and what they teach are important factors to consider, too.

Questions to Ask:

If your child attends a small school:

  • Does the school offer enough variety in the curriculum and extracurricular activities?
  • Does the small size feel limiting?

If your child attends a large school

  • Are students getting enough attention from staff?
  • Is discipline a problem?
  • Is there a way to create small learning communities within the large school so that students receive more attention?

No matter what size school your child attends:

  • Does the school size seem right for your child?
  • Are there factors in your community causing an increase or decrease in enrollment?
  • Are parents actively involved in the school community and does the staff welcome parent involvement?
  • Are the majority of students achieving at high levels?

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

12/19/2011:
"My school has around 4,000 students. There are few fights and few problems. Everyone has their own group of friends and doesnt mess with anyone else. I love my school and how bi i is. Academically we are the best school in the state. Lexington high school. Lexington SC look it up "
11/22/2011:
"My son attends a small school. His school and teachers only worried about how well the kids do on the state test. Since the state test scores determine how much money the school receives from the State. Larger schools are not as concerned with the test since there are more children taking the test. "
04/9/2010:
"i am currently being home schooled until next year and kids want a school they can have fun learning in"
12/23/2008:
"What language is mostly spoken in your school? I hope English is the first language for all the staff and students; and that the conferences, PTA, and all activities are conducted in English. After reading some of the comments I am scared. We are all still live in America, and diversity is beautiful, but we all speak our native tongue ENGLISH first."
06/2/2008:
"Our high school has roughly 1,700 students. Any discipline problems are met promptly and appropriately. There IS a sense of community, even though the school is large. There are programs within the school to provide for students with a variety of issues. There is also plenty of parental involvement. The school is PACKED during parent-teacher conferences. There is diversity!! There is also tolerance & understanding for students who are gay, transgender, and who have other issues, such as, bi-polar disorder, autism, etc. It is an open-minded and intelligent community in our school. The curricullum is varied and we have a lot of AP classes. Also, study-abroad programs. A student can basially get whatever he or she needs or wants. In a safe & close-knit environment!"
06/2/2008:
"This school is too big for the population of students. My son is not being schooled the way he should. We went to a PTA meeting and we walked away. It was all in a foreign language and they gave us ear phones for us to listen to it in english. This is unacceptable in an english speaking country. This really sucks, and is definitely unaccepable. What the fxxk is this country coming too. I thought we lived in AMERICA. I can't even teach my son english much less take part in his education or PTA without putting up with something that isn't english in kindergarten.DISD really sucks. Please respond, and tell me why I must go to an AMERICAN english speaking school and put up with this BS.You can take PTA and stick it."
06/2/2008:
"' School size for High Schools is different than middle or elementary. Optimum size for HS is around 600 students. Middle school is 4-500 and elementary buildings should never go over 400 if that. Students need contact with caring adults. When the school is smaller, the adults know the brothers and sisters as well as have a better chance of knowing the parents. Special services need to be available and can be provided district wide rather than on a building level.'"
11/30/2007:
" School size for High Schools is different than middle or elementary. Optimum size for HS is around 600 students. Middle school is 4-500 and elementary buildings should never go over 400 if that. Students need contact with caring adults. When the school is smaller, the adults know the brothers and sisters as well as have a better chance of knowing the parents. Special services need to be available and can be provided district wide rather than on a building level."
10/19/2007:
"I don't think that it's the size of a school or class room. It's the quaility of the teachers.How far are they willing to go for a childs education?It starts with the teachers."
06/4/2007:
"Our district has less than 600 students and spends $3,000 per student more than our neighboring district which has 2,000 students. Should we be talking merger? Although interesting, it appears the research cannot help us answer this question at this point. Could you please keep this 'size' issue active as research continues. Thanks."
05/30/2007:
"All children learn differently and that will always be a problem. Each teacher should include a variety of teaching methods and if a student does not appear to be learning in that particular class there should be a option of switching that student to another teachers classroom, upon review and discussion. All would benefit. some are just better suited to others and we need to leave some flexability in our structuring of classrooms. Some students will learn no matter what and other just will not progress - will need further help maybe one on one. The schools budgets do not allow room for special needs of students and why should one child get more than others when all pay the same taxes, this will always be a problem and there is no fair or 'right' answer. "
05/30/2007:
"Our high school has over 3000 students. the problems with overcrowding are too numerous to list. The school prides itself on having numerous AP classes and IB classes. The less talented kids are relegated to dummy downed classes.The ratio of students to counselors is 500 to 1.There are no technical courses in the trades or commerce.The basic premise is that all kids should go to college. How non realistic can you get?"
05/30/2007:
"No school should have more that 500 students! 100 in each grade, so that teachers know the children and children their teachers"
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