Does creating small high schools have a beneficial impact on daily attendance? This question was addressed using time series analysis to examine the case of one urban transfer high school that serves students who previously dropped out of school. This analytical approach is uniquely suitable to examine the dynamical processes characterizing stability and transformation in the system. This school reduced its size from enrolling approximately 900 students up to and through the 2009-2010 school year to about 250 students afterward. We looked at whether attendance was higher after the intervention and whether it was more stable. It turns out that the attendance trajectories over a seven-year period show high volatility prior to the reduction in school size but are more stable afterward. The initial increase in daily attendance at the onset of the intervention is not maintained, but increases are observed later. The study illustrates the relevance of time series analysis for educational policy research as well as the use of complexity theory to fully appreciate the nature of the post intervention changes.
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