Year of Publication

2017

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Eugenia Toma

Executive Summary

Overcrowding in schools has been a popular topic reported by local newspapers across the state of Kentucky. Concerned parents often write letters to the editor, pleading their case for new school construction to alleviate the overcrowding that their students are facing. Approximately 27 percent of Kentucky high schools have experienced overcrowding for three consecutive years between 2002 and 2015. The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2005 that only 18 percent of schools reported that they were overcrowded, a decrease from the 1999 study when 22 percent reported overcrowding. Overall, the problem of overcrowding is trending downward, but for the students who attend schools that remain overcrowded, the visibility of the issue makes it one that receives ample attention. The concern of parents, teachers and administration about the effects of overcrowding and the plea for new construction has inspired this study, which stands among just a few similar studies found in the literature of overcrowding in schools. This study attempts to unveil the assumed negative effects of overcrowding and make policy recommendations based on the findings.

This study examines 192 Kentucky High Schools between the years 2002 and 2015. Schools that reported enrollments above 105 percent of capacity were considered overcrowded. Other demographic and school wide aggregate data were used as controls for the fixed effects panel regression. The results of the study found that overcrowding, for three, four and five consecutive years, does not have a statistically significant effect on student academic performance, as approximated by ACT composite scores of eleventh graders. The study did find that student teacher ratio does have a negative effect on ACT composite scores, which provides evidence that symptoms of overcrowding should be monitored and policy should reflect this concern.

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