Master's Theses


Advanced Education Programs

Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S)


The debate over the effectiveness of large schools versus small schools is a long-standing one, one in which there is no general consensus among researchers. Much of the past research has yielded mixed or inconclusive results. Previous researchers have used variables such as ACT scores, college grade point average (GPA), student participation and satisfaction, and student accomplishments to measure the effectiveness of schools. Expanding on the issue of large versus small school effectiveness, this research examined college students’ perceptions concerning their academic preparedness as an indicator of effective schools, in addition to actual preparedness. For the purpose of this study a small high school was defined as one having 300 or fewer students, a large high school as one enrolling more than 300 students. One hundred and seventy-two traditional sophomore, junior and senior level Fort Hays State University (FHSU) students were recruited to participate in this study. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire containing items covering the following areas: high school grade point average, high school size, size of graduating class, participation in extra-curricular activities in high school, satisfaction with high school, college grade point average, and academic preparedness in nine different areas. Perceptions of overall academic preparedness, and academic preparedness in nine areas were rated by respondents on a five-point Likert scale. Actual preparedness was measured utilizing ACT scores and cumulative college GPA. Additionally, satisfaction with high school and participation in extracurricular activities in high school were examined. The t-test was utilized to determine if there were significant differences between students from large versus small high schools. Comments regarding what students felt their high school did to prepare them for college were categorized detect trends in the responses. Results indicate that there are no significant differences between students from large high schools and small high schools in terms of perceived preparedness or actual preparedness. There were significant differences in relation to extracurricular participation and satisfaction with high school in that students from small high schools reported higher rates of participation and satisfaction. Additionally, students were asked to rate 10 characteristics of effective schools in terms of importance to their academic preparation for college. Parental involvement and community involvement were perceived as significantly more important by students from small high schools than students from large high schools. There were no significant differences among the other eight characteristics.


Amy Claxton

Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


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