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Sustained Positive Effects on Graduation Rates Produced by New York City’s Small Public High Schools of Choice

The MDRC has published a new policy brief, by Howard S. Bloom and Rebecca Unterman, further examining a report released in 2010 on the effectiveness of Small Schools of Choice (SSCs).  “That report demonstrated that SSCs are markedly improving academic progress and graduation prospects, particularly for disadvantaged students. This policy brief extends the analysis by a year, adding information on high school graduation rates for the 2006 cohort and providing a fifth year of follow-up for the 2005 cohort.”  The study upon which it is based are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

We at CSPS believe this research to contain some of most significant, historic findings on high school in the last 100 years.

Key Findings

  • Sustained impacts on graduation with Regents diplomas: With the addition of a second cohort, average four-year graduation effects have reached 8.6 percentage points (67.9 percent for “target SSC enrollees” vs. 59.3 percent for their control group counterparts).
  • Positive graduation effects for virtually every subgroup, including students with low entering proficiency in math and English, males and females, blacks and Hispanics, and students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.
  • A positive effect on a measure of college readiness: A 7.6 percentage point impact on scoring 75 or higher on the English Regents exam (a marker that the City University of New York uses to exempt students from remedial English).
  • Five-year graduation effect: Students in SSCs are 7.1 percentage points more likely to graduate in five years than their control group counterparts (75.2 percent vs. 68.1 percent).

Small Schools White Paper

Small Schools White Paper: A Meta-Study on the Benefits of Small Schools

by Stuart R. Grauer, Ed.D.

Abstract: This paper is a review of the literature on the benefits of small (or smaller) schools when compared to larger or middle sized schools in six key areas that are of national concern as well as of concern to every parent and school leader: (A) safety, (B) teaching conditions, (C) academic performance, (D) Culture of Equal Opportunity on Campus, (E) Learning Choices and curriculum and (F) costs of schooling.  The research shows very strong small school advantages in all except cost.  The issue of cost is inconclusive and in dire need of additional research.  Based upon the areas of concern, the authors surmise that, if schools of 350 students or less only were considered, we would find American schools to rank at the top of any international ranking.  Various strategies for breaking down schools are provided.  The essay concludes with a recommendation for new forms of school evaluation and new performance standards that are better predictors of American prosperity.

How Big is a Small School?

How Big is a Small School?

A Review of the Literature on Absolute Secondary School Size by Stuart R. Grauer, Ed.D.

Abstract: The United States has experienced a century-old trend towards school consolidation and growth.  Perhaps nowhere else in American history has so much policy change over a generation affected so many with so little rationale, analysis or public scrutiny than in the case of school size.  Much research has shown that true small schools deliver better results in academics, safety and connectedness when compared to their larger counterparts. However, efforts to measure, define and promote the small school have been weakened by constant shifting in the size of such schools, circular referencing resulting from an insufficient body of research, and an insufficient time given to accurately measure the impacts of restructuring.  Although smallness has several factors, the author concludes that student enrollment is the only stable factor in need of consensus.  To this end, the author develops literature review-based parameters on small school size.

Small Schools Movement Information at

The small schools initiative continues to build momentum as thoughtful educators, practitioners and families seek the positive gains that intimate learning communities offer.  The encyclopedia at provides a comprehensive look at the small schools movement including benefits and criticisms.

CSPS encourages you to unpack these ideas, and share your best practices.

Excerpt from According to Dr. Sharif Shakrani, the Co-director of the Education Policy Center, “Recent studies suggest students in small public high schools perform better academically, have higher attendance rates, feel safer, experience fewer behavior problems and participate more frequently in extracurricular activities.” Leading small schools proponent Dr. Stuart Grauer notes, “Research shows overwhelmingly that small schools lead to greater student academic gains and personal adjustment. Data justifying this has been available for decades; it’s just that policy makers have largely ignored it due to incomplete cost-benefit analyses comparing small and large programs (and, of course, the politics).”

Midland School – A New School of Solar Thinking

CSPS Call for Papers Submission | A New School of Solar Thinking by Kelly Davidson for Home Power Magazine featuring Midland School

Dear friends,

This week we are featuring an article submission from CSPS member Midland School titled A New School of Solar Thinking. This article has been featured in Home Power Magazine, and CSPS is honored to share what one CSPS member school did on a small schools budget to harness solar energy and engage students in a forward thinking way.  CSPS would like to congratulate Karen Readey, Director of Communications, Lise Goddard and the entire Midland School community for their commitment to the pursuit of a “lifetime of learning, self-reliance, simplicity, responsibility to community and the environment, and love for the outdoors.”

Click here to read A New School of Solar Thinking

Click here to see 8 Years of Midland Solar Installation

Excerpt: High school students at Midland School in Los Olivos, California, are not afraid to get their hands dirty. For a week each spring, they participate in hands-on learning activities that supplement their classroom lessons. For the eighth consecutive year, sophomore chemistry students have worked alongside a professional electrician to install a PV system for the school.Students gain valuable knowledge of renewable energy systems by working with them directly.  Solar energy is a natural fit at Midland, where self-reliance and environmental responsibility are core to the curricula.  Goddard hopes the school’s initiative will demonstrate that small steps make a difference. “We need to take courageous steps out of the spiral of procrastination. We may not be able to solve the climate change problem in one day, but we can move in the direction of sustainability, in increments.”

Please read and share your thoughts on Midland’s A New School of Solar Thinking.  If you have an article you would like to submit to be featured on the CSPS website and newsletter, please send a copy to

Call For Papers

Dear friends,

Start the new school year by connecting with Coalition of Small Preparatory Schools (CSPS) and the small schools movement.  We are pleased that the CSPS community has continued to grow recently with the additions of The Early College Academy, Orion Academy and Muse School.   To all current friends of CSPS, we thank you for your support, and to all the future friends we encourage you to join our community network.

CSPS would like to contribute to the online dialogue regarding small schools.  We believe that community connection is one of the best ways to generate new ideas, research and tools benefiting the small schools model.  In the spirit of collaboration, CSPS is inviting you to contribute any writing regarding your small school experiences to be included on our blog.  This call for papers is a critical part of developing a strong research base for those interested in small schools education.

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The Grauer School Celebrates 20th Anniversary | The Coast News

The Grauer School celebrates 20th anniversary
by Lillian Cox
06.20.11 – 01:36 pm
Dr. Stuart Grauer is the founder of The Grauer School. The campus of the college preparatory school is nestled in a two-acre habitat corridor in Encinitas. A trail with interpretive signs boasts coastal sage on one side and maritime chaparral on the other. The school just celebrated its 20th anniversary.  Photo by Lillian Cox

ENCINITAS — On June 10, The Grauer School celebrated its 20th graduating class, with all 14 of its graduates heading to college.

The Grauer School is a college preparatory school for grades 6 to 12, founded by Dr. Stuart Grauer in 1991. It adheres to the Socratic model.

“Socratic teaching is the most compassionate and respectful form of education because the Socratic teacher presumes the natural intelligence of the learner, rather than their emptiness,” Grauer said. “It consists primarily of questioning that becomes increasingly probing in nature. Five thousand years and 50,000 research studies after Socrates, we know of no teaching technique that comes close to the Socratic method in efficiency or respect for the learner.”

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