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School Size and the Distribution of Test Scores

Author

Listed:
  • Kelly Bedard

    (UC - Santa Barbara)

  • William O. Brown, Jr.

    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Eric Helland

    (Claremont McKenna College)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelly Bedard & William O. Brown, Jr. & Eric Helland, "undated". "School Size and the Distribution of Test Scores," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 1999-11, Claremont Colleges.
  • Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:1999-11
    as

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    File URL: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/rdschool/papers/1999-11.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Arnott, Richard & Rowse, John, 1987. "Peer group effects and educational attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 287-305, April.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Osburn, Donald D, 1970. "Economies of Size Associated with Public High Schools," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 52(1), pages 113-115, February.
    6. Sander, William, 1993. "Expenditures and student achievement in Illinois : New evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 403-416, October.
    7. repec:lan:wpaper:1016 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:lan:wpaper:1092 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. 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 571-593, June.
    11. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Corak, Miles & Lauzon, Darren, 2009. "Differences in the distribution of high school achievement: The role of class-size and time-in-term," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 189-198, April.
    2. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Corak, Miles & Lauzon, Darren, 2005. "Differences entre les distributions du rendement scolaire au secondaire : le role de la taille de la classe et du temps d'enseignement," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 2005270f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
    4. Friesen, Jane & Krauth, Brian, 2007. "Sorting and inequality in Canadian schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2185-2212, December.
    5. Kelly Bedard & William O. Brown, Jr., "undated". "The Allocation of Public School Expenditures," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2000-16, Claremont Colleges.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    school size; test scores;

    JEL classification:

    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General

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