Consolidation Doesn't Yield Caps and Gowns

Posted on April 14, 2005
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Would consolidating the Kyrene Elementary, Tempe Elementary and Tempe Union High School districts improve graduation rates?

Not likely, according to the latest research from the Manhattan Institute. In fact, study authors found that "decreasing the size of school districts has a substantial and statistically significant positive effect on graduation rates. Conversely, consolidation of school districts into larger units leads to more students dropping out of high school." Specifically, reducing "the average size of a state's school districts by 200 square miles leads to an increase of about 1.7 percentage points in its graduation rate." The average Arizona school district is 277 square miles, exceeding the national median by 17 square miles.

Manhattan Institute scholars note that when it comes to combating high dropout rates,"spending more money per pupil has no distinguishable relationship with changes in graduation rates ... getting more students into caps and gowns requires real reforms to the educational system."

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