Spending, Size, and Grade Span in K-8 Schools
Education Finance and Policy, 4(1): 60-88

Rubenstein, R. & Schwartz, A.E., Stiefel, L., Zabel, J.

Reorganizing primary school grade spans is a tractable and relatively inexpensive school reform. However, assessing the effects of reorganization requires also examining other organizational changes that may accompany grade span reforms. Using data on New York City public schools from 1996 to 2002 and exploiting within-school variations, we examine relationships among grade span, spending, and size. We find that school grade span is associated with differences in school size, class size, and grade size, though generally not with spending and other resources. In addition, we find class size and grade size differences in the same grade level at schools with different configurations, suggesting that school grade span affects not only school size but also class size and grade size. We find few relationships, though, between grade span and school-level performance, pointing to the need to augment these analyses with pupil-level data. We conclude with implications for research and practice.