School size effects on achievement in secondary education: evidence from The Netherlands, Sweden and the USA

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This paper reports the results of an investigation into the relationship between school size and achievement. The study examined the impact of school size on mathematics achievement in Dutch, Swedish, and American secondary education and on science achievement in the Netherlands. The following research questions were explored:
(1) Is school size related to achievement independently of student background characteristics, such as sex, achievement motivation, socioeconomic status, and cognitive aptitude?
(2) Is the effect of school size related to any of the before mentioned background characteristics?
(3) Does the effect of school size on achievement differ among the educational systems of the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States?
(4) Is the effect of school size the same for different measures of student achievement (mathematics versus science)?
Datasets from two international studies sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement were analyzed - the Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS) and the Second International Science Study (SISS). The findings found little empirical evidence for the existence of school-size effects on achievement in any of the three countries, possibly because school size and curriculum comprehensiveness are not strongly related in these countries. Some useful additional information regarding the robustness of the detected relationships between the five covariates and student achievement is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association 1994
Place of PublicationNew Orleans, LA, USA
PublisherAmerican Educational Research Association
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 1994
EventAERA Annual Meeting 1994: Learning Across Contexts: Work, School, and Play - New Orleans, LA, USA, New Orleans, United States
Duration: 4 Apr 19948 Apr 1994


ConferenceAERA Annual Meeting 1994
Abbreviated titleAERA
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
OtherApril 4-8, 1994


  • IR-93260
  • METIS-307272


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