Small Schools of Choice

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • 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
Issue Areas
K-12 education
Target Population
High school-aged children
Cost per Participant
$61,200 per student over five years

Evidence and impacts


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

  • 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

Best practices in 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.