Essays in Education


In this article the literature on the effects of school size is summarized to describe what is currently known about its relationship to economic efficiency, curricular diversity, academic achievement, and related variables. Two curvilinear relationships are identified: one for economic efficiency and one for educational outcomes. In both cases, increasing size initially brings positive effects but these trends are reversed as size continues to increase. The point of diminishing returns for educational outcomes occurs with fewer students than is the case for economic efficiency. Optimal school size can be defined by a range in which economic efficiency and educational outcomes both show positive relationships to larger school size. Recommendations are made to guide future research and to help educational decision-makers.

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