The relationship between school size and gateway events in secondary schools
McClellan, Michelle M
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Completion of college entrance exams and graduation from high school are "gateway events" or critical determinants in the types of opportunities a student will have post-high school (Atanda, 1999; Finn & Boyd-Zaharias, 2000). The purpose of the present study was to examine the extent to which secondary school size impacts whether students graduate and complete college entrance exams. Data was gathered from an existing database consisting of data collected across 79 elementary schools on almost 12,000 students who participated in Tennessee's class size experiment, Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) (Finn, Gerber, & Boyd-Zaharias, 2005.) Participant and high school data in the present study were obtained from the larger Project STAR database. To be eligible, participants needed to attend a high school that had a sufficient sample size of STAR participants for analyses (n ≥ 20). The final sample included 3,246 participants from 75 high schools. Results revealed that school enrollment was not predictive of school graduation rates or school college entrance exam completion rates when school socioeconomic status, school minority concentration, and school location were held constant. Limitations of the study and implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.