For a time in the mid-2000s, small schools were booming. They were supposed to transform the large, failing American high school, to engage students and boost their achievement to ready them for college.
But the results have been mixed, national and local research shows. Students at small high schools were more likely to graduate, have positive relationships with their teachers, and feel safer. Still, they did no better on standardized tests than did their peers at big schools.
In Philadelphia, where 26 of the 32 small high schools have been opened or made smaller in the last seven years, some schools have thrived. Their presence has transformed the high school mix.
Among the district’s current 63 high schools, the 32 small schools enroll roughly a quarter of the 48,000 total enrollment. The rest attend large neighborhood high schools.
High School of the Future and Science Leadership Academy, four-year-old Phila. high schools just graduated their first classes. Their experiences differ greatly..
Related: Small Learning Communities and English 10.