The Value of Small Schools in Missouri


National research shows that:

1)       There is no reliable relationship between school size and curriculum breadth and quality

2)       Where available, the expanded curriculum in larger schools does not always mean an expanded opportunity for student learning

3)       Access to advanced courses and comprehensive curriculums can be just as high in small schools, especially given the availability of distance learning technologies

Missouri-specific research




The Missouri School Improvement Program:

<      Maintains resource, process, and performance standards, such that all schools must meet the same minimum requirements, for example MO high schools must offer a minimum of 40.5 units of credit that include the state high school graduation requirements.

<      Allows districts to meet any course requirement by providing opportunities for all students to attend a high school and/or area vocational school in a neighboring district or by participating in other approved delivery systems (i.e., correspondence courses, satellite classes, interactive television).


Analysis of Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data shows that:

<      Data does not currently allow for an assessment of curriculum breadth or quality in Missouri, however, the average Missouri high school offers 91 units of credit, 50 credits in excess of the required minimum.

<      The average number of courses offered in large urban and suburban high schools (121 units) exceeds that offered in high schools in large and small cities (113 units) and in rural areas (76 units).This is largely a function of the size of school and the number of faculty employed.[1]


Status of Two-Way Interactive Television (I-TV) Networks in Missouri[2]:

<      Nearly half of Missouriís school districts (45%) have two-way I-TV capabilities

<      The districts who have I-TV capabilities are not limited to any one size or location--47% of large urban and suburban districts have I-TV, as do 42% of districts of small/large towns and 46% of districts in rural areas.Likewise, 45% of districts under 600 enrollment have I-TV capabilities.

<      Not all districts with I-TV capabilities are organized into consortiums, but for those who do, the potential for broadening their student course offerings is substantial.

Example:In 2003-04three rural Missouri I-TV consortiums offered a collaborative schedule of high school classes via I-TV including: Anatomy/Physiology, Business Economics, College Prep. English, Criminal Justice, French I, French II, Geometry, German I, German II, Physics, Sociology, Spanish I, and Spanish II.Dual credit classes in which the consortium schools participated included: D/C Algebra, D/C Business Enterprise, D/C Chemistry, D/C Composition I, D/C Composition II, D/C Criminal Justice, D/C Geography, D/C German I, D/C German II, D/C Government, D/C Psychology, D/C Public Speaking, D/C Sociology, D/C Spanish I, D/C Spanish II, D/C Statistics, D/C U.S. History I, and D/C U.S. History II.Through the joint consortiumsí I-TV class schedule, students acrossthe three consortiums had access to 31 additional classes--22 high school credits and 54 hours of college credit beyond those hours offered traditionally in their local high schools.


Implications of data:

<      The curricular offerings of small and rural schools can be significantly enhanced in both academically and economically cost-efficient ways through appropriate distance learning technologies.

<      The one-time capital cost of providing state-of-the-art I-TV equipment to those 160 rural districts without I-TV equipment is estimated at $4.9 million, before national E-Rate discounts are applied.Itís a small cost for big capabilities!

<      Through two-way I-TV small schools can retain all of the advantages of small size while cost-effectively expanding curricular opportunities for their students.

[1] Based on NCES Locale Codes 1-4 (Metropolitan cities and their urban fringe); Locale Codes 5-6 (Non-metro towns over 2,500 population); and Locale Codes 7-8 (Rural, in towns under 2,500 or in the open country

[2] Based on GreaterNET database of I-TV sites in Missouri