Small Schools of Choice

Program basics

  • Small, academically nonselective public high schools with 100–120 students per grade
  • Designed to maximize individualized attention students receive from teachers
  • Replace large, underperforming schools and are created via a competitive application process from prospective school leadership teams
  • Feature public and philanthropic start-up funding, assistance from education intermediary organizations, and partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked has having the highest level of evidence by Social Programs That Work; the second-highest level of evidence by Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development


Target population

High school-aged children

Program cost

$61,200 per student over five years

Implementation locations

  • New York City, New York

Dates active

2002–present

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased high school graduation rates and college readiness
  • Improved four-year high school graduation rates by 6 percentage points
  • Improved passing rate of New York State college readiness exam by 4 percentage points

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Leaders of the school should articulate a clear educational philosophy and plan of action. The plan should explain how the school will motivate teachers and engage the community.
  • New Small Schools of Choice may take time to settle into effective routines. The school district should be patient and supportive of the school during the first year or so of transition.
  • Prepare students for college using a standards-based curriculum that provides material above and beyond basic graduation requirements.
  • Create structures to facilitate mutual support between teachers.
  • Institute frequent teacher evaluation and feedback processes.
  • Empower teachers with consistent professional development.

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