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Describes several prominent early grades small-class-size projects and their effects on student achievement: Indiana's Project Prime Time, Tennessee's Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio), Wisconsin's SAGE (Student Achievement Guarantee in Education) Program, and the California class-size-reduction program. Lists several conclusions, discusses some tentative theories, and draws implications for policy and actions. (Contains 30 references.) (PKP)
Small Class Size and Its Effects
Educational Leadership (February 2002)
Bruce J. Biddle and David C. Berliner
With so many studies on the effects of small class size, why are there so many
disagreements about these studies’ results? In this condensation of a research synthesis
sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of its series, In Pursuit of Better
Schools: What Research Says, the authors carefully examine and evaluate the findings
and limitations of early research studies and subsequent studies in Indiana, Tennessee,
Wisconsin, and California. They suggest that although the results of individual studies
are always limited, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests several conclusions in favor of
small classes, including that small classes in the early grades generate substantial gains
for students in a variety of academic disciplines, that students retain these gains in later
years, and that gains are greater for students who have traditionally been disadvantaged in
education. The authors explore two theories for why small classes have positive effects
and suggest several conditions that have held back reform efforts despite the available
evidence. They conclude that the issue is not whether small classes work but whether
citizens value funding smaller class sizes.
Class Size and School Size
Research Brief
The Principals’ Partnership
This research brief examines the research on class size and school size and the impact on
student achievement. Several major studies (Indiana’s Project Prime Time, the
Tennessee STAR Project, and Wisconsin’s SAGE Program) indicate that smaller class
sizes produce an increase in student achievement as well as greater student, teacher, and
parent satisfaction. Although there have been flaws and issues resulting from these
studies and others conducted across the country, most examiners see a relationship
between class size and student achievement. Long term exposure to smaller class sizes in
the early grades creates greater advantage for students, especially academic achievement
in reading and math. Gains from small classes in the early grades are retained when
students return to larger classes and the gains remain present in later grades. Suggestions
for creating successful class size reduction programs are identified.
In addition, this brief examines the relationship between school size and aspects of
schooling. Cost-effectiveness benefits, academic achievement, student attitudes, social
behavior, extracurricular participation, attendance and dropout rates are among the
findings reviewed.
Class Size Commentary
Class-Size Policy: The STAR Experiment and Other Class-Size Studies (2007)
C.M. Achilles and J.D. Finn
Since 1900 class-size studies in the U.S. have shown positive benefits for students and
teachers. This paper summarizes over 20 years of work on one large-scale experiment,
supported by many other class-size studies. The Tennessee Student Teacher
Achievement Ratio (STAR) large-scale, randomized, longitudinal experiment and its
derivative studies (1985 – 2007) are the basis for this summary. Class size studies have
been done in Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Far East and
elsewhere. A remarkable consistency is apparent: class-size analyses show considerable
positive effects on short and long-term student outcomes. Refer to Appendices A and B
to guide effective small-class implementations.
Research on the Academic Effects of Small Class Size
Archived Information
April 1998
The issue of class size persists because of the tension between research findings and the
cost of implementation. Glass and Smith (1978) collected and summarized nearly 80
studies of the relationships of class size with academic performance that yielded over 700
class-size comparisons on data from nearly 900,000 students. The two primary
conclusions drawn from this material are:
reduced class size can be expected to produce increased academic achievement;
the major benefits from reduced class size are obtained as the size is reduced
below 20 students
A compilation of studies examined by Educational Research Service looked at more than
100 separate studies. The effects of class size on student learning varies by grade level,
student characteristics, subject areas, teaching methods and other learning interventions.
Slavin (1989) reviewed those studies that lasted a minimum of 1 year and had 20 students
or fewer. He concluded that substantial reductions in class size have a small positive
effect on students.
After the positive STAR findings, Tennessee authorized a study to see how long the
initial benefits of small classes would persist. Although all children were returned to
regular-size classes in grade 4, the Lasting Benefits Study (LBS) continued to follow a
significant portion of these students. In the 1995-96 school year, the majority of STAR
students were in grade 10 and their performance was still being tracked. Students who
had been in smaller classes had higher achievement in all academic areas compared to
students in regular or teacher-aide classes. Both Project STAR and LBS provide
compelling evidence that small classes in the primary grades are academically superior to
regular-class sizes.
Class Size Effects: New Insights Into Classroom, School and Policy Processes
American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (2008)
Blatchford, Bassett and Brown
This paper compares effects of smaller class sizes on student engagement and teacher to
student interaction for both elementary and secondary students. This paper examined the
effects of class size on classroom processes across the primary and secondary school
years; it studied effects across the full range of class sizes found in United Kingdom
schools; and it examined systematic observation data to capture effects of class size on
moment by moment behavior.
Results showed that as class sizes became smaller there were more times when students
were the focus of a teacher’s attention, and more times when they were engaged in active
interaction with teachers. This effect was found for all groups at both primary and
secondary levels. Classroom engagement effects were most marked for low attaining
secondary students. The effect of smaller class sizes on individualized attention in
particular, appears to be a robust finding that extends right through the school years and
can be used to accelerate more differentiation of the curriculum.
Capitalizing on Small Class Size
ERIC Digest (April 2000)
Jessica O’Connell and Stuart C. Smith
Research has consistently found that teachers do not significantly change their teaching
practices when they move from larger to smaller classes. Tennessee teachers reported
that smaller classes increased their ability to monitor student behavior and learning, give
more immediate and individualized re-teaching, offer more enrichment, achieve a better
match between their instruction and each child’s ability, gain more detailed knowledge of
each child’s needs as a learner, and use a variety of instructional approaches to meet
learners’ needs. Professional development is essential for teachers if learning is to be
maximized in smaller classes.
District class size policies should establish concrete goals (such as a maximum of 18
students in K-3 classes). Better teaching and learning ought to be the cornerstone of
class size reduction.
Does Smaller Class Size Improve Student Performance? A Brief Review of the
Empirical Literature
Paper submitted to the Council of Economic Advisors (2002)
Russell P. Chuderewicz
R. P. Chuderewicz served as an Economic Advisor to Florida Governor Jebb Bush from
2001-2003. He prepared a brief to weigh the benefits of smaller classes in relationship to
the costs associated with providing smaller classes. He concluded that given the
substantial cost of mandating smaller classes Florida would not likely pass a cost-benefit
test. He primarily relied on the controversial work of Hanushek (1999), an opponent of
smaller class sizes, yet identified the key ingredients of the STAR Project which led to
positive results. He felt that Florida would not be able to replicate the STAR Project
results due to the problems California faced in implementing a class size reduction
Do Small Classes Influence Academic Achievement?
A Report of the Heritage Center for Data Analysis (2000)
Kirk A. Johnson Ph.D.
Class size reduction initiatives are popular with politicians and the public, but hiring the
additional teachers necessary to reduce class sizes is very expensive. Some researchers
have questioned studies that found significant differences in achievement between
students in classes of 15 students per teacher and those in large classes. A study of the
1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment indicated
that the differences in reading achievement between students in smaller classes and their
peers in large classes were statistically insignificant. The author concludes that in terms
of raising achievement, reducing class size does not guarantee success. Given the
inconclusiveness of evidence on the impact of class size reduction on student
achievement, the author suggests that policymakers and educators avoid committing
themselves in haste to costly, unproven initiatives. Dr. Johnson concludes that class size
has little or no effect on academic achievement, according to this analysis of 1998 NAEP
data. It is quite likely that class size as a variable pales in comparison with the effects of
teacher quality and teaching methods.
Class Size: Counting Students Can Count
American Education Research Association (2003)
Research has revealed nuances about how and when small classes work best, where an
investment will result in maximum return, and exactly how many students a “small” class
should have.
Both STAR and SAGE findings indicate the most dramatic impact seems to be achieved
by reaching students early. Ideally, students should experience small classes of 15 to 17
students when entering school, in either kindergarten or first grade. Changes in student
and teacher behavior are believed to be a major reason why small classes work. Teachers
in small classes pay greater attention to each student. Students in these classes
experience continuing pressure to participate in learning activities and become better,
more involved students. Attention to learning goes up, and disruptive and off-task
behavior goes down.
It seems that class size must be reduced substantially to achieve the benefits. There is no
experimental research suggesting that any benefits are realized by subtracting only a few
children from a large class – for example, transitioning from 28 to 25 students. Even a
class of 20 students may be too large.
Benefits of Small Class Size
American Federation of Teachers (2003)
The AFT is a strong advocate for reducing class size to help raise student achievement,
especially in high-poverty, at risk schools. Class size is most effective when classes are
between 15 and 19 students; particular schools are targeted; there is an adequate supply
of qualified teachers; and adequate classroom space. In addition to increasing student
achievement, smaller classes: improve classroom atmosphere, students receive more
attention, teachers know their students better, teachers spend more time on instruction
and less time on discipline.
The Benefits of Smaller Classes
Class Size
Studies from Tennessee, Wisconsin, and elsewhere demonstrate that students who are
assigned to smaller classes in grades K-3 do better in every way that can be measured:
score higher on tests, receive better grades, and exhibit improved attendance. Alan
Krueger, Princeton economist, has estimated that reducing class size in the early grades
shrinks the achievement gap (black-white) by about 38%. Some researchers believe that
smaller class size is likely to have large public health benefits with greater medical
savings. When secondary students are placed in smaller classes, much greater time is
spent “on task” and focused on learning, with special benefits for low achievers and far
lower rates of negative behavior.
Health and Economic Benefits of Reducing the Number of Students per Classroom
in US Primary Schools
American Journal of Public Health (November 2007)
Peter Muennig, MD, MPH, and Steven H. Woolf, , MD, MPH
Using a regression ANALYSES, Muennig and Woolf concluded that students enrolled in
small classes would achieve improved health status. Both researchers found that
reducing class sizes would in all likelihood be cost saving from a societal perspective.
According to their research model, a student graduating from high school after attending
smaller-sized classes gains an average of 1.7 quality adjusted life years and generates
$168,431 in lifetime net revenue for a high school graduate produced by small classes.
Reducing class sizes may be more cost effective than most public health and medical
interventions and could markedly improve the human capital of the United States.
Every Classroom Teacher’s Dream
Education Leadership February 2002
Patricia Handley
A teacher recounts how her year with a class of fifteen 2nd graders resulted in academic
and social growth unparalleled in any of her larger classes. According to the author, a
smaller class leads to a connected classroom community, where children are recognized
for their contributions and are invested in daily learning activities. Children respect their
peers and help maintain order. They have more time for collaborative, hands-on-work
and can make their own predictions, formulate their own findings, and draw their own
conclusions. Teachers have more opportunity for personalized assessment with students,
such as individual conferencing. With a small class, teachers can maximize best teaching
practices, heightening students’ academic achievement.
... Adding two Kindergarteners to the class requires two more changes to the lesson plan, especially if the pupils are failing in school or adapting to the new rules. Small classes have the greatest effect on increased student achievement in the primary grades when class sizes are below 20, and for gap groups, specifically minority and economically disadvantaged students (Biddle & Berliner, 2002;Bosworth, 2014;Filges et al., 2018). In these instances, smaller classes benefit students. ...
... Both instances show a pupil-teacher ratio of 15:1, but a classroom with 30 pupils and 2 teachers looks different than one with 15 students and 1 teacher (Filges et al., 2018;Lapsley, Daytner, Kelly, & Maxwell, 2002). Indiana's project prime time shows how a lack of difference between these two ways of reporting class size can cause a class size initiative to become a lowering of the per pupil-teacher ratio through the use of a classroom helper (Biddle & Berliner, 2002). Apparently, children who had better emotional and organizational classroom quality in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten had better social skills and fewer behavior problems in kindergarten and first grade than children who didn't have better classroom quality (Broekhuizen et al., 2016). ...
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Children are the future of society, and early childhood development is undeniably important. As a result, stakeholders expect high-quality Kindergarten education. This study assessed the effect of class size and the developmental domain performances of Kindergarten pupils in public elementary schools. The researcher employed a descriptive-correlational design using the adopted questionnaire to evaluate the developmental domain performances of the Kindergarten pupils in the selected public elementary. Results of the study divulged that most Kindergarten pupils were at the exact age of their grade level, male, had normal nutritional status and were middle children among their siblings. The Kindergarten class size is above the required average of 25-30 pupils. Moreover, the overall results also disclosed an evident performance level in various developmental domains of the pupils. Only placement among siblings on the profile variables was identified as a significant predictor of the developmental domain performance of the pupils. Further, the study found no association between class size and Kindergarten pupils’ developmental domains. The researchers suggest that the department should maintain the standard size of the learners in every Kindergarten class. Furthermore, the teachers should monitor learners’ cognitive development and other physical activities even when they are studying only with their parents/guardians.
... Numerous studies have emphasized the positive impact of smaller class sizes on students' academic performance (Biddle & Berliner, 2002;Bohrnstedt & Stecher, 1999;Dynarski, Hyman, & Schanzenbach, 2013;Finn & Achilles, 1990;Glass & Smith, 1980;Grissmer, 1999;Hruz, 2000;Krueger, 2003;Nakamura & Dev, 2022;Shin, 2012;Zyngier, 2014). Increasing opportunities for parental involvement can also be effective in improving individual learning environments and students' academic performance (Blair, 2014;Gunderson et al., 2013;Henderson & Mapp, 2002;Hill & Craft, 2003;Hill & Tyson, 2009;Sankaran, Sorrentino, & Hernandez, 2020;Steinberg, Lamborn, Dornbusch, & Darling, 1992). ...
Human capital accumulated through education is a key factor in increasing individual income. Therefore, policies that aid in increasing school enrollment and completion rates among the poor are essential for poverty alleviation. Despite the fact that primary school enrollment rates in developing countries have increased, there remains a significant gap in school completion rates. This study focuses on the decisions individuals make regarding completing their education to obtain future job-related skills. We clarify factors that increase school enrollment and completion rates and indicate the effectiveness and priority of policies to increase the rates through a simple model. Our findings suggest that school policies have limited impact on increasing school enrollment and completion rates, particularly among the poor, who tend to have a high discount rate for the future and focus on the current situation. Therefore, policies that aim to reduce their discount rate should be prioritized. Moreover, we found that extending learning hours at school has a negative impact on the school completion rates of students from poor families. Therefore, policies aimed at improving individual learning environments are effective in increasing rates, especially for the poor. These findings have important implications for policymakers and education practitioners seeking to improve education outcomes and alleviate poverty, especially in developing countries.
... For example, scholarship has consistently documented associations between teacher preparation and certification and student outcomes (e.g., Clotfelter, Ladd & Vigdor, 2007;Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005). Moreover, evidence from Tennessee and Wisconsin suggests that smaller classes are significantly and causally related to student outcomes (e.g., Biddle & Berliner, 2002). ...
... In fact, the ratio of students to teachers was about 3:1. Smaller class sizes can provide students, especially students with disabilities, with better opportunities for learning (Biddle & Berliner, 2002). Moreover, there is a possibility that the complexities and quantities of the targeted behaviors might lead to different levels of improvement in the students' behaviors. ...
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In response to the demand for adopting a social justice system to manage students’ challenging behaviors, many countries are implementing positive behavior support (PBS) programs at the school level. However, the use of PBS in Saudi Arabian schools is still a goal rather than reality. It is strongly evident that school-wide PBS can be applicable to different educational contexts. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a virtual school-wide positive behavior support program for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Saudi Arabia. Teaching and reinforcement procedures were implemented to help the students replace interfering classroom behaviors with alternative, appropriate behaviors. Observations were conducted to collect data on the students’ classroom behaviors. The results of the study showed that there was an immediate and major improvement in the students’ behaviors upon the introduction of the program. The results support the conclusion that school-wide positive behavior support can be successfully applied to different educational settings and suggest several implications for special and general education schools.
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There has been a strong interest in teacher retention and attrition which has been studied extensively over the past twenty or more years. While some researchers have attributed teacher attrition to low teacher salaries, poor working conditions, lack of administrative support and resources, other research focuses on the “emotional” aspect of the profession where educators continue to stay because of their love for teaching, for their students, and how they imagine possibilities for their students’ futures. A more comprehensive theory of retention and attrition is Mason and Matas’ (2015) four capital framework which consists of human capital, social capital, structural capital, and positive psychological capital. In our research with teacher residents in a preparation program, we used interviews, survey, and focus group to obtain data, and found strong prevalence of the four capitals as competing and intersecting phenomenon aiding in understanding the varied and complex factors that contribute to teacher retention or attrition. Additionally, we found that one or more of these four capitals may significantly impact teacher retention or attrition more than others, at any given time and one type of capital may help to overcome limitations in another. Therefore, we found this to be a worthwhile framework to incorporate in teacher preparation.
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Background: Class size reductions in general education are some of the most researched educational interventions in social science, yet researchers have not reached any final conclusions regarding their effects. While research on the relationship between general education class size and student achievement is plentiful, research on class size in special education is scarce, even though class size issues must be considered particularly important to students with special educational needs. These students compose a highly diverse group in terms of diagnoses, functional levels, and support needs, but they share a common need for special educational accommodations, which often entails additional instructional support in smaller units than what is normally provided in general education. At this point, there is however a lack of clarity as to the effects of special education class sizes on student academic achievement and socioemotional development. Inevitably, such lack of clarity is an obstacle for special educators and policymakers trying to make informed decisions. This highlights the policy relevance of the current systematic review, in which we sought to examine the effects of small class sizes in special education on the academic achievement, socioemotional development, and well-being of children with special educational needs. Objectives: The objective of this systematic review was to uncover and synthesise data from studies to assess the impact of small class sizes on the academic achievement, socioemotional development, and well-being of students with special educational needs. We also aimed to investigate the extent to which the effects differed among subgroups of students. Finally, we planned to perform a qualitative exploration of the experiences of children, teachers, and parents with class size issues in special education. Search methods: Relevant studies were identified through electronic searches in bibliographic databases, searches in grey literature resources, searches using Internet search engines, hand-searches of specific targeted journals, and citation-tracking. The following bibliographic databases were searched in April 2021: ERIC (EBSCO-host), Academic Search Premier (EBSCO-host), EconLit (EBSCO-host), APA PsycINFO (EBSCO-host), SocINDEX (EBSCO-host), International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (ProQuest), Sociological Abstracts (ProQuest), and Web of Science (Clarivate, Science Citation Index Expanded & Social Sciences Citation Index). EBSCO OPEN Dissertations was also searched in April 2021, while the remaining searches for grey literature, hand-searches in key journals, and citation-tracking took place between January and May 2022. Selection criteria: The intervention in this review was a small special education class size. Eligible quantitative study designs were studies that used a well-defined control or comparison group, that is, studies where there was a comparison between students in smaller classes and students in larger classes. Children with special educational needs in grades K-12 (or the equivalent in European countries) in special education were eligible. In addition to exploring the effects of small class sizes in special education from a quantitative perspective, we aimed to gain insight into the lived experiences of children, teachers, and parents with class size issues in special education contexts, as they are presented in the qualitative research literature. The review therefore also included all types of empirical qualitative studies that collected primary data and provided descriptions of main methodological issues such as selection of informants, data collection procedures, and type of data analysis. Eligible qualitative study designs included but were not limited to studies using ethnographic observation or field work formats, or qualitative interview techniques applied to individual or focus group conversations. Data collection and analysis: The literature search yielded a total of 26,141 records which were screened for eligibility based on title and abstract. From these, 262 potentially relevant records were retrieved and screened in full text, resulting in seven studies being included: three quantitative and five qualitative studies (one study contained both eligible quantitative and qualitative data). Two of the quantitative studies could not be used in the data synthesis as they were judged to have a critical risk of bias and, in accordance with the protocol, were excluded from the meta-analysis on the basis that they would be more likely to mislead than inform. The third quantitative study did not provide enough information enabling us to calculate an effect size and standard error. Meta-analysis was therefore not possible. Following quality appraisal of the qualitative studies, three qualitative studies were judged to be of sufficient methodological quality. It was not possible to perform a qualitative thematic synthesis since in two of these studies, findings particular to special education class size were scarce. Therefore, only descriptive data extraction could be performed. Main results: Despite the comprehensive searches, the present review only included seven studies published between 1926 and 2020. Two studies were purely quantitative (Forness, 1985; Metzner, 1926) and from the U.S. Four studies used qualitative methodology (Gottlieb, 1997; Huang, 2020; Keith, 1993; Prunty, 2012) and were from the US (2), China (1), and Ireland (1). One study, MAGI Educational Services (1995), contained both eligible quantitative and qualitative data and was from the U.S. Authors' conclusions: The major finding of the present review was that there were virtually no contemporary quantitative studies exploring the effects of small class sizes in special education, thus making it impossible to perform a meta-analysis. More research is therefore thoroughly needed. Findings from the summary of included qualitative studies reflected that to the special education students and staff members participating in these studies, smaller class sizes were the preferred option because they allowed for more individualised instruction time and increased teacher attention to students' diverse needs. It should be noted that these studies were few in number and took place in very diverse contexts and across a large time span. There is a need for more qualitative research into the views and experiences of teachers, parents, and school administrators with special education class sizes in different local contexts and across various provision models. But most importantly, future research should strive to represent the voices of children and young people with special needs since they are the experts when it comes to matters concerning their own lives.
A major factor affecting students’ academic performance is the classroom environment, in which class size plays an important role. This study aims to test the impact of class-size reduction on students’ performance and examine other factors affecting it. The results are established using a simple model that determines the impact of class size, individuals’ earnestness toward studying, and individuals’ learning environments on students’ performance. The results reveal the benefits of class-size reduction and how elementary students benefited from the smaller class size. This study will help school managers, teachers, and society understand the importance of creating an optimal learning environment based on students’ needs.
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The aim of the study is to determine the views of teachers working at the Science and Art Center regarding classroom management and misbehaviors. In this study, phenomenology approach, one of the qualitative research methods, was used. The study group of the research consists of ten (10) teachers working in the Science and Art Center of a province in the south of Turkey in the 2017-2018 academic years. The data of the research were collected through semi-structured interviews and the content analysis method was used in the analysis of the data. By emphasizing the unique characteristics of gifted individuals, teachers emphasized that misbehaviors may occur due to their active, curious, competent, ambitious and the adaptation problems they experience in formal education. However, they stated in their opinions that they did not see these behaviors as undesirable behaviors, but as the characteristics of gifted students. In addition, the teachers working in the Science and Art Center stated that the strategies they use to cope with the undesirable behaviors of their gifted students are educational-developmental planning, encouragement, giving responsibility, use of reinforcement, relocation, accepting and ignoring individual characteristics, precautionary and one-on-one conversation.
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The study reported here linked U.S. census data on school finance to data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 to evaluate the process through which financial resources affect opportunities to learn in U.S. public high schools. It examined the direct effects of school expenditures on students' achievement in math and science and the indirect effects of expenditures on achievement through their provision of opportunities to learn. It also tested multiple components of opportunities to learn to determine their relative impact on students' success. The results indicate that per-pupil expenditures indirectly increase students' achievement by giving students access to educated teachers who use effective pedagogies in the classroom.
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The purpose of this investigation was to extend our knowledge of the effects of small classes in the primary grades on pupils' academic achievement. Three questions were addressed that have not been answered in previous research: (1) How large are the effects of small classes relative to the number of years students participate in those classes? (2) How much does any participation in small classes in K-3 affect performance in later grades when all classes are full-size? (3) How much does the duration of participation in small classes in K-3 affect the magnitude of the benefits in later grades (4, 6, and 8)? Rationales for expecting the continuing impacts of small classes were derived in the context of other educational interventions (for example, Head Start, Perry Preschool Project). The questions were answered using data from Tennessee's Project STAR, a statewide controlled experiment in which pupils were assigned at random to small classes, full-size classes, or classes with a full-time teaching assistant. Hierarchical linear models (HLMs) were employed because of the multilevel nature of the data; the magnitude of the small-class effect was expressed on several scales including "months of schooling." The results for question (1) indicate that both the year in which a student first enters a small class and the number of years (s)he participates in a small class are important mediators of the benefits gained. The results for questions (2) and (3) indicate that starting early and continuing in small classes for at least three years are necessary to assure long-term carryover effects. Few immediate effects of participation in a class with a full-time teacher aide, and no long-term benefits, were found. The results are discussed in terms of implications for class-size reduction initiatives and further research questions.
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Reduction of class size to increase academic achievement is a policy option that is currently of great interest. Although the results of small-scale randomized experiments and some interpretations of large-scale econometric studies point to positive effects of small classes, the evidence has been seen by some scholars as ambiguous. Project STAR in Tennessee, a 4-year, large-scale randomized experiment on the effects of class size, provided persuasive evidence that small classes had immediate effects on academic achievement. However, it was not clear whether these effects would persist over time as the children returned to classes of regular size or would fade, as have the effects of most other early education interventions. This article reports analyses of a 5-year follow-up of the students in that experiment. The analyses described here suggest that class size effects persist for at least 5 years and remain large enough to be important for educational policy. Thus, small classes in early grades appear to have lasting benefits.
Wisconsin researchers have found that class-size reduction in a variety of formats increases attention to individual students. Teachers of smaller classes, however, are individualizing instruction - not content.
The overall impact of class-size reduction in California will not be known for a few more years. Nevertheless, much has been learned in the first three years that can inform the national conversation on the topic, the authors point out.
There has recently been a great deal of interest in the use of meta-analysis to integrate research findings. Glass and Smith used meta-analytic techniques to describe the relationship between class size and academic achievement or classroom processes. The statistical methods used by Glass and Smith are open to criticism on several grounds. The present paper reports the results of reanalyses using statistical methods that can be rigorously justified. The statistical methods used herein can be shown to have certain optimal properties for the analysis of effect size data, and therefore the results of analyses based on these methods are generally preferable. The results of our analyses suggest that the use of suboptimal statistical methods did not greatly affect the results of the meta-analysis by Glass and Smith.
Research on educational production functions attempts to model the relation between resource inputs and school outcomes such as educational achievement. Over the last decade a series of influential reviews of this literature have suggested that there is no systematic relation between resource inputs and school outcomes when controlling for student characteristics such as socioeconomic status. The inference procedure used in these reviews, vote counting, is known to be problematic. This study is a reanalysis of data from these earlier reviews, using more sophisticated synthesis methods. It shows systematic positive relations between resource inputs and school outcomes. Moreover, analyses of the magnitude of these relations suggest that the median relation (regression coefficient) is large enough to be of practical importance.While this reanalysis suggests that previous data do not support the conclusions that Hanushek and others derived from it, limitations of their data set warrant caution in using it for policy formation.
This chapter examines some effects of California’s Class Size Reduction (CSR) policy on teachers and pupils in four elementary schools over a two year period using interviews and participant observation. Among the main findings from the interviews, confirmed by the observations, was that while teachers found classes with 20 pupils easier to teach, they did not initially consider the possibility of changing practice in order to maximize the advantages of the smaller classes. In the second year there were slight increases in the amounts of individual attention pupils received, particularly feedback, and teachers expressed greater confidence when making assessments. Pupils’ reactions were generally positive although some expressed the view that in larger classes they got more help from friends. There were several unanticipated effects; for example, some older grade teachers with larger classes expressed resentment because of their higher administrative and marking loads.