Objectives. The purpose of this study was to extend research on the connection between school size and student outcomes by examining how school size was related to interpersonal processes and whether the interpersonal effects of school size varied by race/ethnicity.
Methods. We applied multilevel modeling techniques to a sample of 14,966 students in 84 schools from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Results. Increasing school size was associated with decreasing student attachment to school and to teachers as well as extracurricular participation. Student attachment and teacher bonding diminished with increasing school size at a decreasing rate (reaching minimums in schools with between 1,700–2,000 students), but extracurricular participation dropped at a steady rate. These patterns did not differ substantially by race/ethnicity.
Conclusions. The size of the educational institution influences interpersonal dynamics among actors in the institution and does so similarly across student groups. More generally, this research demonstrates the importance of organizational characteristics for social life.