Document Type

Graduate Project

Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2005

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)



Committee Chair

Gary Shelly

Second Committee Member

Steven W. Nourse

Third Committee Member

Jack L. McPherson


The project examined key elements of success in large high school conversions to smaller learning community complexes. The review of current research found that the mere act of making schools smaller by size of staff and student population is not enough of a structural change to affect student learning and achievement. Six defining characteristics of a small school were identified as key elements to a learning community that can demonstrate success by significantly improved graduation rates, testing scores and college applications and acceptances. The manual describes a developed six step process which addresses all of the elements which lead to success, though the conversion of a large and comprehensive high school into a complex of several small schools sharing one campus. The overall purpose of the manual was to offer a process by which the successful implementation of small schools could be assured, and the conditions created for teachers to improve teaching and the environment focused on learning for all students.