Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Dr. Michael Brooks
The purpose of this dissertation was to add to the limited available research concerning the effects of size of school and socioeconomic status (SES) on literacy and mathematics achievement for students in Grades 9 through 12 in Western and Northwestern Arkansas. Of the four high schools, two were larger 6A/7A schools, and two were smaller 3A/4A schools. In all four hypotheses, the independent variables were size of school and SES measured by lunch status. In the first hypothesis, the dependent variable was literacy achievement as measured by student performance on the 2012 End of Course (EOC) literacy examination. In the second hypothesis, the dependent variable was mathematics achievement as measured by student performance on the 2012 EOC geometry examination. In the third hypothesis, the dependent variable was literacy achievement as measured by student performance on the reading portion of the 2012 American College Test (ACT). In the fourth hypothesis, the dependent variable was mathematics achievement as measured by student performance on the mathematics portion of the 2012 ACT. A review of the literature identified the various aspects of the effects of size of school and SES on student achievement in reading and mathematics.
This causal comparative study was conducted in Western and Northwestern Arkansas with Grades 9 through 12 in four high schools in four districts. The sample for this study included students from two larger 6A/7A high schools and two smaller 3A/4A high schools. School A was a higher-SES high school with a free and reduced lunch percentage of 39%, and School B was a lower-SES high school with a free and reduced lunch percentage of 59%. The two other high schools used in this study were small 3A/4A schools. School C was a higher-SES high school with a free and reduced lunch percentage of 40%, and School D was a lower-SES high school with a free and reduced lunch percentage of 65%. All of these schools were located in the northwestern part of Arkansas and had largely White student populations with roughly equal numbers of males and females. Students from the four high schools in a Northwest Arkansas school district were identified to participate in this study. The 2011–2012 demographics of the districts as a whole were 50.75% free and reduced lunch status. There were approximately 92% White, 7% Black, and 8.5% Hispanic. Students with disabilities made up approximately 10% of the total population of approximately 19,000.
A 2 x 2 factorial ANOVA was used to analyze the data collected for each of the four hypotheses. The results of this study showed no significant interaction effects between the effects by SES of students attending larger 6A/7A schools versus smaller 3A/4A schools on literacy and mathematics achievement measured by EOC literacy and mathematics testing and ACT reading and mathematics testing for students in Grades 9 to 12. In all four hypotheses, no significant interaction effect existed. The main effect for size of school was not found to be significant for any of the four hypotheses involving students in 9th through 12th grade, regardless of the dependent variable. However, the results for Hypothesis 2, which dealt with the results for EOC geometry, were somewhat less conclusive though still not significant. In analyzing the means, the scores of the 9th and 10th grade students participating in the free/reduced lunch program from 6A/7A schools were virtually identical to 9th and 10th grade students from 3A/4A schools, but the non-participants in 6A/7A schools scored roughly 11 points ahead of non-participants in 3A/4A. Among non-participants, size of school did appear to make some impact but not enough to make a significant difference.
Many of the studies reviewed revealed findings similar to this study. Some studies revealed a greater difference in size of school and SES. No sweeping generalizations regarding size of school can be made. The effects of size of school differ depending on individual communities and schools. SES, however, was found to be a rather consistent predictor in measuring student achievement.
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Childers, Robert, "School Size and Socioeconomic Status on Mathematics and Literacy Achievement for Students in Arkansas" (2015). Dissertations. 22.