Research on Community-Sized Districts

Is there a correlation between district size and SAT Scores?

1997 to 2000 Average Fifth Grade SAT Scores of All Utah School Districts

  • The yellow bars represent the range within which each group are expected to score based on socio-economic factors. In Utah, smaller districts are generally in lower socio-economic areas.
  • The red dot within each range represents the average SAT score of each group.
  • The groups shown above represent grade size in each school district of the total of all fifth grade classes.

  • After adjusting for socio-economic factors and plotting the percentile of each group's average score, indications are that smaller school districts score better.
  • 8th grade test scores show a similar pattern.

"School District Size has a consistent negative relation to student performance and is highly significant in three out of four tests."
-W. Niskanen & M. Levey, University of California, Berkeley
as quoted in A District of a Certain Size, an Exploration of the Debate on School District Size by Florence R. Webb, University of California Berkeley (Published in Education and Urban Society, February, 1989
"...There is a strong, consistent, negative correlation between district size and student achievement in low-SES (socio-economic status) populations."
Florence R. Webb, University of California Berkeley. From A District of a Certain Size, an Exploration of the Debate on School District Size (Published in Education and Urban Society, February, 1989

The higher the enrollment the lower the achievement!