Given the large numbers of competing proposals for improving urban schools so that students perform better, policymakers need to know budget as well as performance implications of proposed reforms. One reform group with a large constituency suggests that high schools should enroll small numbers of students, but some policymakers worry that the costs of small schools are excessive. This paper contributes to the school size policy debate by using methods and data that combine budget and performance information, with the school as the unit of analysis. With data on budgets, graduates, and characteristics of students in New York City public high schools, we estimate 4-year budgets per graduate. We find that small academic and large high schools are similar in terms of budgets per graduate and that some vocational and "transfer" high schools have the highest budgets per graduate. Because the literature on school size indicates that small high schools are more effective for minority and poor students, the similarity in outcomes that small and large high schools produce suggests that policymakers might do well to support the creation of more small high schools.
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