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Small Schools

"Headed to College: The Effects of New York City's Small High Schools of Choice on Postsecondary Enrollment"

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New York City's small high schools raise graduation rates and boost college enrollment—at a lower cost per graduate—than the city's larger high schools, according to findings from an ongoing longitudinal study.

Since 2002, New York City has closed 31 large, struggling public high schools and replaced them with small schools. The findings released last week by MDRC, a New York-based research group, look at 84 of the city's 123 academically nonselective "small schools of choice," which serve mostly low-income students and those of color.

The study compares the academic outcomes of students who attended a small school with those of their peers who lost the admissions lottery and enrolled in another high school. (The study is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which underwrites some coverage of college- and career-ready standards in Education Week.)

The report concludes that the small schools raise on-time graduation rates by 9.4 percentage points and boost college enrollment by 8.4 percentage points. Forty-nine percent of the small-school students enrolled in postsecondary education after graduating on time.

Vol. 34, Issue 09, Page 5

Published in Print: October 22, 2014, as Small Schools
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