Why Smaller Is Better

An analysis of 103 studies of school size revealed a number of compelling reasons why students thrive in small schools. At Vine Academy, we view our small size as an asset for the following reasons:

“Research shows that students in small schools have a more positive outlook on interpersonal relationships between other students, teachers, and administrators.”

Students thrive academically.

According to the research, students who attend small schools outperform those in large schools in every academic measure from grades to test scores. Despite the common belief that larger schools have higher quality curricula than small schools, no reliable relationship has been found between school size and curriculum quality. A small school can offer a curriculum that compares favorably in breadth and depth to one offered in larger settings, but the smaller school  is more likely to use instructional strategies associated with higher student performance. An integrated curriculum, multi-age grouping, cooperative learning, and performance assessments are just a few of these powerful strategies.

 

Expectations are higher.

Children are held to more rigorous expectations in a smaller school setting. Teachers expect more from their students because they know them better and often care about them more deeply.

 

Students value school.

Research shows that student attitudes toward school in general and toward particular school subjects are more positive in small schools.

 

Everyone knows your name.

In a small school, it’s very hard to become alienated.  Students are shown to demonstrate a greater sense of belonging.  When a child is known by peers and teachers, he or she is much more likely to develop strong relationships.

 

Students take ownership.

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.

 

Learning should be nurturing.

Finally, research shows that students in small schools have a more positive outlook on interpersonal relationships between other students, teachers, and administrators.  Adults and students in small  schools know and care about one another to a greater degree than is possible in large schools.

 

From Kathleen Cotton, "School Size, School Climate, and Student Performance," Close-Up Number 20, 1996. Portland, Oregon: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. http://www.ruraledu.org/user_uploads/file/cotton.pdf