Source: Review of Educational Research Volume 79, Issue 1; p. 464-490, (March 2009).
The review explored 57 post-1990 empirical studies of school size effects on a variety of student and organizational outcomes. The weight of evidence provided by this research clearly favors smaller schools.
Students who traditionally struggle at school and students from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds are the major benefactors of smaller schools. Elementary schools with large proportions of such students should be limited in size to not more than about 300 students, whereas elementary school which serving economically and socially heterogeneous or relatively advantaged students should be limited in size to about 500 students.
Secondary schools serving exclusively or largely diverse and/or disadvantaged students should be limited in size to about 600 students or fewer, while those secondary schools serving economically and socially heterogeneous or relatively advantaged students should be limited in size to about 1,000 students. Finally, most contemporary studies have concluded that small schools are more efficient or cost-effective. Small secondary schools manage to graduate a significantly larger proportion of their students than do large secondary schools.