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Building a Smaller School
Looking at the Small School Model
More of this Feature
Part 1: Importance of Keeping Schools Small

Join the Discussion
"I taught in an extremely large Middle/High School.... It's very sad that out of the 100 or so educators working at the school, I personally knew about 40. How can we discuss students we have in common when we don't even know each other?"
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Related Resources
Small School Resources
School Violence Article
School Violence Resources
Restructuring Schools

From Other Guides
School Reform: Size Matters
Bullying and School Violence

Location of Small Schools for Study

Advocates from a number of local government and school boards have adopted the small school model with great success.

Chicago's Small Schools
As part of the part of the Chicago Board of Education's 1995 initiative for small schools, for example, the school board funded 24 of 87 proposals for small schools. Klonsky says that studies show that all but one currently out perform large schools, and that one has continued the traditional assembly line structure and isolation of teachers.

In fact, Chicago's small schools have met with such success that, in an attempt to turn schools around, every high school in Chicago now has academies or schools within schools without selective enrollment.

Most notable, the Chicago Vocational School, with a 100% minority population, was turned around by principal Betty Green who divided the school into seven small schools and reduced total enrollment from 4200 to 3,000. Although her faculty was at first reluctant, under her capable leadership, CVS thrived and was eventually selected by the US Dept. of Education as one of the five showcase "New Urban Schools."

Other Districts
Around the nation, you can find districts embracing the small school notion. Continued reluctance of certain school districts to create small schools despite the many unsafe conditions created by large schools are likely to provoke advocates into using charters to create small schools.

Additional Methods of Building
Supporting Relationships in Schools

In addition to keeping school enrollments small, the following methods are often used to help build supporting relationships in schools.

Advisory programs
Most often found in middle schools, teachers or all staff members are assigned a small group of advisory students who report to them throughout their enrollment at the school. Effectiveness of the program depends on its implementation and consistency. An example of a program that has received recognition from the U.S. Department of Education is SCORE.

Peer Mentoring Programs
Students are trained in active listening and conflict resolution in order to assist other students. This program is ineffective in that it touches only a small segment of the school population and the skills taught are more appropriately taught to all students by their regular teachers.

Student Volunteer Programs
Service learning help participating students feel more connected with their community.

Block scheduling
While there are pros and cons to this method, many schools are turning to increasing the amounts of time students are in a class. The idea is to allow students greater time to become involved in their class and increase the interaction time between teachers and students.

Cooperative Learning
Shown effective for helping students develop communication and teamwork skills, cooperative learning is also gives students get a sense of belonging.

Volunteer Mentoring Programs
Because these programs usually include only a small number of students, they are ineffective on a school- wide basis.

Although each of these methods has met with success, none measures up to that of the small school, our best chance to rescuing our children.

Resources about Small Schools

Curtailing Violence: Making Schools Smaller
Don't miss your guide's Net links to numerous articles about the benefits small schools and various models of small schools.

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