OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
Current Section

Smaller Learning Communities (SLC)
Fact Sheet Series 2004 - Secondary and Technical Education
Archived Information

The OVAE Fact Sheet Series highlights efforts currently underway at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) to support the principles of the President's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The principle(s) supported by this effort are:

  • Increase Accountability and Academic Achievement
  • Increase Options and Involvement for Parents and Students
  • Increase Flexibility and Reduce Bureaucracy
  • Focus on What Works


Historically, comprehensive high schools were created to fulfill a set of goals that were quite different from what is currently needed in today's educational system. The comprehensive high school provided a wide selection of courses, but it was not assured that every student would obtain a strong set of core skills.

But in today's "knowledge-based" economy, students must possess strong literacy, analytic, and mathematical skills to succeed in postsecondary education or the workforce. A large body of evidence suggests that smaller schools may have advantages over large schools, especially when the smaller learning communities (SLCs) are accompanied by separateness, autonomy, and distinctiveness in the sub-school units. Smaller units of students and teachers within a school may make it easier to focus on teaching and learning.


The goal of this program is to increase the academic achievement in large high schools through the creation of smaller, more personalized learning environments. High schools enrolling more than 1,000 students can establish strategies, such as, small learning clusters, career academies, teacher-advisory mentoring, and other innovations designed to create more personalized instruction.

Outcomes and Products

  • Grantees will provide a core of rigorous academic courses tied to standards
  • Participation in smaller learning environments based on student/parent choice or random assignment
  • Grantees must document the utilization of evidence-based practices in their teaching methodology

FY 2000 to FY 2004



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Last Modified: 09/06/2007