Howley, C. (1995). The Matthew Principle: A West Virginia Replication. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, (3) 1-25. Retrieved February 20, 1999 from the world wide web: http://olam.ed.asu.edu/epaa/v3n18.html
The direct association of size and achievement is neither practically nor statistically significant, but, instead socioeconomic status governs the relationship. As in the California study (Friedkin & Necochea, 1988), large size benefits affluent students, but afflicts impoverished students and vice versa. And, as in the California study, the negative effects of size on the achievement of impoverished students are much stronger than the positive effects of size on affluent students. However, small schools and districts in West Virginia were shown in the analysis to disrupt the negative relationship of size and student achievement,whereas the reverse seems to have been true in California. At least in 1990, the smaller schools in West Virginia tended to serve impoverished communities, an association that was strongest at the high school level (see the note to Table 7). Since that time, however, West Virginia has facilitated the closure of many small schools. The findings developed in this study provide strong evidence that small school size benefits the achievement of impoverished West Virginia students. The evidence suggests, as well, that increasing school size may produce effects that are the opposite of those that policy makers claim they intend in closing smaller schools.
This finding correlates with the Achilles, Finn and Bain findings cited on this web page.
Summary by Ken Tanner - Posted: (February 1999).