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School Size and the Distribution of Test Scores

  • Kelly Bedard

    (UC - Santa Barbara)

  • William O. Brown, Jr.

    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Eric Helland

    (Claremont McKenna College)

After forty years of school consolidation, the preponderance of the evidence, including the results presented in this paper, suggest that the race to reap returns to scale and specialization in education may have come at a high price. This paper uses newly available STAR test score data from California to explore the relationship between school size and the distribution of test scores across elementary, middle, and high schools. We find that school size has a statistically significant and economically large impact on school performance. For example, the probability that an average suburban high school is dominated by low scorers rises from 47% to 71% as the school grows from 200 to 800 students per grade.

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File URL: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/rdschool/papers/1999-11.pdf
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Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 1999-11.

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Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:1999-11
Contact details of provider: Postal: 500 E. 9th Street, Claremont, CA 91711
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Web page: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/rdschool/papers/

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  1. Elchanan Cohn, 1968. "Economies of Scale in Iowa High School Operations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 3(4), pages 422-434.
  2. Richard Arnott & John Rowse, 1982. "Peer Group Effects and Educational Attainment," Working Papers 497, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. Eide, Eric & Showalter, Mark H., 1998. "The effect of school quality on student performance: A quantile regression approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 345-350, March.
  4. Bedard, Kelly, 2003. "School quality and the distribution of male earnings in Canada," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 395-407, August.
  5. Sander, William, 1993. "Expenditures and student achievement in Illinois : New evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 403-416, October.
  6. Bradley, Steve & Taylor, Jim, 1998. "The Effect of School Size on Exam Performance in Secondary Schools," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(3), pages 291-324, August.
  7. repec:lan:wpaper:1016 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. repec:lan:wpaper:1092 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Brown, Byron W & Saks, Daniel H, 1975. "The Production and Distribution of Cognitive Skills within Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(3), pages 571-93, June.
  10. Deller, Steven C. & Rudnicki, Edward, 1993. "Production efficiency in elementary education: The case of Maine public schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 45-57, March.
  11. Osburn, Donald D, 1970. "Economies of Size Associated with Public High Schools," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 52(1), pages 113-15, February.
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