Size does matter when it comes to the quest for better student performance, according to a new national report that studied the advances of 22 small schools.

School systems will spend about $84 billion in the next two years on construction, and the report advises using the money to break up large schools into smaller parts—or simply create schools with fewer students. The study also reported that schools sharing space with other organizations, such as a community college or a museum, often outperform their unconnected counterparts.

Joe Nathan, director of the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota and coauthor of the study, said researchers examined standardized-test scores as well as qualitative measures such as school climate. In smaller schools, students and teachers are more likely to interact and student misconduct is less, he said.

The 68-page report, titled “Smaller, Safer, Saner, Successful Schools” and financed by the U.S. Department of Education, is available online at