Kathleen Cotton’s comprehensive review of research for the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory distilled the chief factors to which researchers attribute the superiority of small schools:
Everyone’s participation is needed to populate the school’s offices, teams, clubs, and so forth, so a far smaller percentage of students is overlooked or alienated.
Adults and students in the school know and care about one another to a greater degree than is possible in large schools.
Small schools have a higher rate of parent involvement.
Students and staff generally have a stronger sense of personal efficacy in small schools.
Students in small schools take more responsibility for their own learning; their learning activities are more often individualized, experiential, and relevant to the world outside of school; classes are generally smaller; and scheduling is much more flexible.
Small schools more often use instructional strategies associated with higher student performance-team teaching, integrated curriculum, multi-age grouping (especially for elementary children), cooperative learning, and performance assessments.
From Kathleen Cotton, “School Size, School Climate, and Student Performance,” Close-Up Number 20, 1996. Portland, Oregon: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Tel: 503-275-9618 503-275-9618 ; Web site http://www.nwrel.org/