Rural Nerds: The Case for Small Schools

From our Top 10 Rural Research Reports, we recount a special series we ran on small, rural schools. It’s an A+ in our #tbt countdown.

#4 The Case for Small Schools

by Jon Bailey, 2000

This report began as a response to statements about the need to eliminate small, rural schools. We provided the series so advocates for small schools could tell state policymakers, local school board members, and school administrators about advantages of educating children in small schools.

Rural school districts across the nation continue to experience school consolidations or closures. Often these decisions are made without considering the social, economic, and political effects on communities or the educational advantages of small schools.

Key Findings

  • Federal data showed big schools (1,000 students or more) had higher incidents of all types of crimes (violent and non-violent) than did small schools (less than 300 students).
  • Small schools had a significantly greater ability to graduate students than did large schools.
  • A review of numerous studies found that extracurricular participation rates were higher and more varied in small schools than in large schools, and that alienation from the school environment was lower in small schools.
  • Schools in rural communities had a significant economic effect on their towns. The loss of a school led to declines in retail sales and labor supplies in communities.

Download The Case for Small Schools here.