What Is The Impact On Students?
In our search, we found only two studies that looked at student outcomes of consolidation; the other studies compared student
outcomes of large districts with small districts. The outcome studies we found compared graduation and dropout rates with
pre- and post-consolidation efforts—we found no studies that used student achievement data.
Bowen, S.L. (2007). Is bigger that much better? School district size, high school completion, and post-secondary enrollment
rates in Maine. Maine View, 5(10), 1–5. Retrieved from http://www.mainepolicy.org/resources/media/51_244589835.pdf
This study by the Maine Heritage Policy Center compared high school completion rates of the 15 largest and 15 smallest
school districts in Maine and found that the graduation rate for smaller districts was six percent higher than for larger
Gordon, N., & Knight, B. (2008). The effects of school district consolidation on educational cost and quality. Public
Finance Review, 36(4), 408–430.
A study of consolidations in Iowa during the 1990s found no statistically significant change in “pupil-teacher ratios,
enrollments, or dropout rates” after consolidation. It should be noted that these schools did share high schools before
Greene, J.P., & Winters, M.A. (2005). The effect of residential school choice on public high school graduation
rates (Education Working Paper No. 9). Retrieved from Manhattan Institute for Policy Research website http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ewp_09.htm
This study calculated the graduation rate over the last decade using officially reported enrollment and diploma counts
made available by the U.S. Department of Education in its Core of Common Data (CCD). The study examined the relationship between
graduation rates and changes in each state's average school district size. The researchers found that “decreasing the
size of school districts has a substantially and statistically significant positive effect on graduation rates. Conversely,
consolidation of school districts into larger units leads to more students dropping out of high school.”
Howley, A., & Howley, C. (2006). Small schools and the pressure to consolidate. Educational Policy Analysis Archives,
14(10), 1–23. Retrieved from ERIC database. (EJ806029)
The authors, who are part of a team of researchers on school size, reviewed the research on the effects of small schools.
They report that children from economically disadvantaged families have higher achievement in small schools and small districts;
the relationship between aggregate student achievement and socioeconomic status is consistently weaker in smaller schools
and districts (equity effects of size); dropout rates are lower in smaller schools; students’ school activity participation
is higher in smaller schools; and smaller high schools can offer adequate curriculum.
Jimerson, L. (2007). Slow motion: Traveling by school bus in consolidated districts in West Virginia. Retrieved
from Rural School and Community Trust website http://www.ruraledu.org/user_uploads/file/docs/slow_motion_wvbusdes.pdf
A survey of high school students in four West Virginia counties found that students from consolidated districts had a 43
percent longer commute, rode busses more often, and participated less in extracurricular activities than students in nonconsolidated