Sunday, June 15, 2008

Study of Small High Schools Yields Little on Achievement

Download the full report here.

Some of the Implementation Findings:

* The most prevalent SLC structures were freshman and career academies.
* Most participating schools chose to implement one or more SLC strategies, with block scheduling and teacher teams the most popular choices.
* Smaller Learning Community-related professional development, although provided by nearly all schools, was not very extensive.
* Most schools reported they applied for SLC funds to increase overall student academic achievement, academic achievement of at-risk students and student motivation.
* Schools reported a number of factors limiting effective SLC implementation, including scheduling and logistical issues, physical space, lack of teacher SLC professional development, and school staffing needs, especially in terms of core academic teachers and guidance counselors.

Additional outcomes from the Annual Performance Reports:

* The data suggest an upward trend in student extracurricular participation before and after program participation.
* There was a statistically significant positive trend in the percentage of 9th-grade students being promoted to 10th grade during the post-grant period.
* There was also a downward trend in the incidence of violence in SLC schools over time.
* The data suggest increases in the percentage of graduating students who reported they planed to attend either two- or four-year colleges.
* There were no significant trends observed in academic achievement, as measured by either scores on statewide assessments or college entrance exams over the short period of the study.


By David J. Hoff | Ed Week
May 16, 2008

High schools receiving $80 million in annual federal funding to support “smaller learning communities” can document that they are taking steps to establish learning environments more intimate than found in the typical comprehensive high school.

But, according to a federal study, such smaller schools can’t answer the most significant question: Is student achievement improving in the smaller settings?

The evaluation of the 8-year-old program found that schools participating in it show signs of success. In the schools, the proportion of students being promoted from 9th to 10th grade increases, participation in extracurricular activities rises, and the rate of violent incidents declines.

But the evaluation found “no significant trends” in achievement on state tests or college-entrance exams, says the report, which was prepared by a private contractor and released by the U.S. Department of Education last week.

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