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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Jill Morris The ACEF Journal John R. Slate Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012, pp. 5-15 Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Performance Differences as a Function of Gender and School Size View PDF Abstract Student participation and student performance on the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams for the 2008-2009 school year was examined to ascertain the extent to which differences were present as a function of high school size and student gender. Using Academic Excellence Indicator System data for traditionally configured high schools in Texas, statistically significant differences were yielded. In the 2008-2009 school year, girls had higher participation rates than did boys. Moreover, girls outperformed boys regardless of school size. The performance of boys and girls on these exams differed as a function of school size, with students in larger size high schools participating at a higher rate and outperforming students at smaller size high schools. Implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for further research are made. Keywords: Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, gender, school size, student achievement Barker and Gump (1964) concluded that smaller schools, though offering fewer activities, allowed a higher percentage of students to become involved in these activities than larger schools. A few years later, Conant’s (1967) examination of over 2,000 high schools suggested that smaller schools (i.e., fewer than 750 students) could not provide as diverse and efficient educational programs as larger schools. Goodlad (1984) entered the school size debate by compiling studies over several years that indicated smaller units should be created from larger schools (i.e., elementary schools should be no larger than 300 students and secondary schools should be 600 or fewer students). In their review of the literature on school size, Slate and Jones (2005) concluded that the differing results that were reported in previous studies might be attributed to the complexity of the issue and the focus of researchers and policymakers on finding a simple answer to a complex issue. Schools that are at either extreme in terms of size (i.e., very small or very large) might lack the needed resources to serve students efficiently. Moreover, the relationship between school size and school quality may be curvilinear (Slate & Jones, 2005; Stiefel, Schwartz, Iatarola, & Chellman, 2009; Werblow & Duesbery, 2009). More recently, Greeney (2010) noted that students enrolled in larger Texas high schools had higher passing rates on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills than students enrolled in smaller Texas high schools. Monk and Haller (1993) suggested that an optimal school size that will work best for all students does not exist. Similarly, Howley (2001) concluded that the characteristics of the students served by the school might influence what school size would be best and that a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of optimal school size does not exist. Lee and Smith (1997), in a longitudinal study of over 800 high schools indicated that student performance was strongest in schools of medium size (i.e., between 600 and 900). In their review of school size research, Leithwood and Jantzi (2009) noted that a positive relationship between school size and student achievement was documented in five studies, a curvilinear relationship existed between school size and student achievement in six studies, and a negative relationship between school size and 5 Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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