by Brian V. Carolan & Floyd M. HammackThe guest editors’ For the Record introduction to a special issue on small secondary schools.
by Susan F. Semel & Alan R. SadovnikThe purpose of this article is to examine the historical roots of the small-school movement through the use of two progressive independent schools founded in the early part of the twentieth century, the Dalton School and the City and Country School, and relate them to one of the models of the contemporary small-school movement, Central Park East Secondary School in New York City, founded in the 1980s and reorganized in 2004. Within this context, we will examine the relationship between the current small-school movement and earlier progressive reforms, and, using the histories of all three schools, we discuss lessons from the history of progressive schools with respect to curriculum and pedagogy for low-income students, leadership, and sustainability.
by Patrick J. McQuillanIn light of the consistent underperformance of the comprehensive high school, districts across the country, mostly urban, have begun creating small schools, believing that they may offer a more personalized, supportive, and demanding learning environment. To explore this assumption, this article examines small-school reform through the lens of complexity theory, considering both the promise and problems associated with this approach to educational change.
by Judith KafkaThis article explores the ideological roots of small-school reform by examining the political, cultural, and economic arguments used to promote it and argues that small-school reform is part of a larger trend in the United States to reduce the role of the citizen in educational governance and define the purpose of public education in private terms.
by Patrice Iatarola, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel & Colin C. ChellmanUsing 10 years of data on New York City high schools, this study examines the implications of small-school reform by comparing small schools with their larger counterparts and by assessing systemwide changes in segregation and resource inequities. The evidence suggests that the systemic impact of small-school reform, although mixed, is ultimately limited because most of New York City’s public school students still attend larger schools.
by Adam E. Wyse, Venessa Keesler & Barbara SchneiderAlthough decreasing school size has been a popular mechanism for school reform, earlier results have shown inconsistent gains in student achievement. This article uses propensity score matching to estimate the effect of small school size on mathematics achievement.
by Spiro Maroulis & Louis M. GomezThis article frames in social network terms the interpersonal mechanisms through which a student’s social relations can impact academic performance. Using social network data collected from a large urban high school implementing a school-within-a-school reform, the authors examine the propositions that the achievement of a student’s peers and the location of a student within a social structure are associated with student achievement.
by Douglas D. Ready & Valerie E. LeeThe schools-within-schools design represents a convergence of two popular reform efforts—the movement to create smaller high schools, and the push to increase educational choice. Drawing on data collected over several years in a field-based study of five high schools divided into schools within schools, this article considers the consequences of student choice within these small-school organizational structures.
by Anne Galletta & Jennifer AyalaThis study documents issues of erasure and survival in the restructuring of a comprehensive high school into a campus of small schools in the urban northeast.
by Linda Shear, Barbara Means, Karen Mitchell, Ann House, Torie Gorges, Aasha Joshi, Becky Smerdon & Jamie ShkolnikThis article focuses on two contrasting strategies to small-school reform: starting new small high schools, and converting large schools into smaller learning communities. For each strategy, it reports on the progress of the reform in its first several years, student outcomes, and key implementation factors that shape progress and outcomes for start-up and conversion schools.
by Reva Jaffe-WalterThis article considers how the Internationals Network for Public Schools contends with the often incompatible external demands of current accountability policies and the internal professional and pedagogical practices of their schools.
by Floyd M. HammackThis Off the Record commentary addresses some of the issues raised by the articles included in this special issue of Teachers College Record. In particular, it explores the relationship of the goals of personalism and academic press in small schools serving urban students.