Effect of a smaller learning community on students in a large high school.
This study is an investigation into the impact that Smaller Learning Communities might have on students in a large high school. It is a single site study that occurred over the course of three years. Three separate groups of students were involved in this study: Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students, randomly selected students who had never taken a Pre-Advanced Placement or Advanced Placement course, and randomly selected students who had taken Pre-Advanced Placement or Advanced Placement courses. The Smaller Learning Community that had been applied at this high school was the Advancement Via Individual Determination or AVID program. The three different groups of students were compared in six separate categories: achievement scores on the state mandated Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills on the Math test as well as on the English Language Arts test, attendance rates, the number of disciplinary incidents received, class rankings, and grade point averages (GPAs). These categories were then assessed with a statistical analysis of simple or one way analysis using the ANOVA tool for comparison. Statistical significance was found to be present in five of the six categories studied. The AVID program was begun in California in the mid-1980s, and coupled with the recent emphasis on Smaller Learning Communities by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, programs like AVID have come to the forefront of educational solutions. The high school involved in this study was a large 5-A high school located in central Texas. Their enrollment was just over 2,300 students at the time of the completion of this study. According to the research, any student body of larger than +/-1,000 students is in danger of “losing” kids due to feelings of disconnection with their schools. Applying treatments such as the AVID program to these large high schools is an attempt on the part of educators to provide for all students within the walls of their schools, in an earnest attempt to “leave no child behind.”