Which Berkshire high schools are the “right” size?
Declining population and birth rates have school committees considering collaboration and consolidation, leading us to wonder which high schools are optimal in size.
There is no single answer to what constitutes optimal enrollment, but the respected studies of John Goodlad suggest that a high school of 500-600 students is best. That size makes the school large enough to provide diverse programming and small enough to give personal attention. Above that optimal range, research shows that achievement and attendance often fall and dropouts increase. Berkshire County schools in this ideal range are Wahconah Regional (552) and Monument Mountain Regional (540).
Researcher Valerie Lee concluded that schools in the 600-900 range are optimal. Pittsfield High (896) pushes this limit, while Taconic (731) is mid-range. Schools that might have difficulty providing adequate programming include Hoosac Valley (345), Mount Greylock Regional (343), and Drury (342). And Lee (236), Lenox Memorial (214), and Mount Everett (204) may be forced to consider new regional alignments. McCann Tech (481) and Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter (145) are not included because of the specialized nature of their programs.
Size is one of many variables in the success of high schools. No Berkshire school faces the challenges of Brockton, at 4,607 students, the state’s most populous high school, but many must deal with small enrollments and the limitations that implies.