Bigger High Schools Seem to Be Better

From a Times Staff Writer

Students aiming for college do much better if they attend high schools with big enrollments apparently because these schools offer more advanced courses, according to a study released Monday.

Despite the popular belief that smaller schools offer a better education, Prof. George A. Chambers of the University of Iowa said that his nationwide study of Latino and Anglo students shows that American College Testing (ACT) scores are higher for both ethnic groups at big-enrollment high schools, he said.

The ACT is a college-entrance test taken by about 800,000 high school students annually. “While many believe that big is bad, it looks as if big is better,” Chambers told a session Monday at the annual convention of the National Assn. of Secondary School Principals at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Chambers’ work analyzed ACT scores at hundreds of high schools nationwide. He said the study indicated that students benefit from large schools because more advanced courses and specialized teachers--particularly in science and math--tend to be available at those schools.

His study also found that students score much higher on the ACT tests if they have had several advanced courses, such as trigonometry, chemistry and calculus.