Indiana Economic Digest | Indiana
Advanced Search

• Most Recent




home : most recent : most recent September 23, 2017


8/15/2017 5:38:00 PM
Indiana Chamber study: Merging small school districts could improve test scores
On the web
The report, titled "School Corporation Size and Student Performance Evidence from Indiana," is available at http://share.indianachamber.com/media/SchoolCorpStudy815.pdf.

Scott L. Miley, Herald Bulletin CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier school districts with fewer than 2,000 students should consider merging with another small district to reap better test scores, according to a study released Tuesday.

"Students in small school corporations in Indiana, which comprise 20 percent of total statewide enrollment, are academically disadvantaged," said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Consolidation of districts could reduce administrative costs and improve SAT scores, Advanced Placement passing rates, eighth-grade ISTEP scores and passing rates for end-of-course assessments in algebra and biology, the study found. 

"Smaller schools have meaningfully worse outcomes in standardized tests and the college preparatory elements — the SAT, the ACT and the AP pass-rate — particularly in mathematics and sciences than do larger schools," said Michael Hicks, director of the Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research.

The study, commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was conducted by Ball State's CBER.

In 2014, 154 of Indiana's 289 schools corporations had enrollments of fewer than 2,000 students. Of the smaller school corporations, 94 percent were contiguous with another small district.

The enrollment figure of 2,000 was chosen for the study because it has been identified in previous studies as the minimum number for efficiency.

Small districts that increase their enrollment to around 2,000 could experience an increase in the average student's performance on SAT of 20.5 points and a 14.9 percent increase in students passing AP exams.

A district merger could also yield a 5 percent point increase in eighth-grade ISTEP pass rate and an additional 4 percentage point increased in end-of-course assessments in algebra and biology.

The size of a district, however, did not impact the passing rate for fourth-grade ISTEP or 10th-grade end-of-course assessments in English, Hicks said.

A district with more than 50,000 students, however, becomes problematic, Hicks said. Indiana's largest districts include Indianapolis Public Schools at 30,000 students, South Bend Community Schools at 19,300 and Vigo County Schools at 15,400. The smallest districts include Union School Corporation in Randolph County at about 336 and Medora Community Schools in Jackson County at 263.

Enrollment declines have been seen in numerous districts, knocking some like Decatur County Community Schools and Brown County Schools closer to the 2,000-student mark.

Enrollment declines are due primarily to population shifts to urban centers and the loss of manufacturing jobs among other factors, Hicks said.

In Indiana, 85 school districts had enrollment declines of 100 or more from 2006 to 2014, the study found.

"They're not going to grow their way out of this problem. It's only going to get worse," Brinegar said.

Brinegar applauded action by the recent Indiana General Assembly that provided consolidating school districts with a one-time incentive of $250 per student. The grant can go towards the professional fees associated with the consolidation or for teacher stipends.

Related Stories:
• OPINION: A case study in school performance and enrollment
• Superintendent with about 850 students questions study calling for more consolidation
• OPINION: To afford small schools, merge small school corporations
• Local superintendents dismiss BSU study calling for consolidation of small districts

2017 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.






Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


Software © 1998-2017 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved