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Class Size

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Rating: Bad idea

Many education advocates say that class size reduction is one key to improving education, however, schools in Asia with much better math performance have larger class sizes than the US. A California law has only turned into a disaster when there aren't enough classrooms or teachers in place to implement a smaller size, even when money was made available. Even the normally liberal Seattle Times has come out against raising taxes for smaller class sizes.


Class Size Spectrum
49 South Korea
44 Taiwan
36   Japan
35   Catholic
30   US Average 1961
23   US Average 1999
18   US Goal
17.1 US Student Teacher ratio *
13.7 DC Student Teacher  *

Percent outcomes Eric Hanusheck
15% Improvement
74% No Effect
13% Negative Effect


@@Against

15 IS SMALL ENOUGH, BUT OTHERS SAY IT'S JUST 1ST GRADE
z45\clip\2000\10\classno.txt Education Week October 18, 2000 Wis.
Researchers Question Findings On Class Sizes By Debra Viadero
researchers concluded that 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders in classes of no
more than 15 pupils scored better on standardized reading and
mathematics tests than their counterparts in bigger classes did.
("Wisconsin Study Finds Benefits in Classes of 15 or Fewer Students,"
April 12, 2000.) but opponents say most of gain was in 1st grade only.

NAEP SAYS CLASS SIZE MAKES LITTLE OR NO DIFFERENCE
Do Small Classes Influence Academic Achievement? What the
   National Assessment of Educational Progress Shows
by Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D.
 From the attention given this subject by politicians, it
would be reasonable to assume that class size has been shown
to be essential to good academic outcomes. But this report,
using data from the 1998 National Assessment of Educational
Progress reading examination to analyze the effect of class
size on academic achievement, concludes that class size has
little or no effect on academic achievement. It is quite
likely, in fact, that class size as a variable pales in
comparison with the effects of many factors not included in
the NAEP data, such as teacher quality and teaching methods.
In the words of Irwin Kurz, principal of Brooklyn's highly
successful P.S. 161, which serves poor children and has an
average class size of 35, it is "[b]etter to have one good
teacher, than two crummy teachers any day."
http://www.heritage.org/library/cda/cda00-07.html


\clip\99\18\classz.txt From Education Week: September 29, 1999
Politicizing Class Size By Casey J. Lartigue Jr.  "University of
Rochester economist Eric Hanushek examined 277 separate published
studies on the effect of teacher-pupil ratios and class-size averages
on student achievement. Only 15 percent suggested that there is a
"statistically significant" improvement in achievement, 72 percent
found no effect at all, and 13 percent found that reducing class size
had a negative effect on achievement. "

"American classrooms have an average class size of 23 students,
incredibly few compared with the averages of 49 in South Korea, 44 in
Taiwan, and 36 in Japan. Washington has an average class size below
the national average, yet ranks near the bottom in academic
achievement. We shouldn't forget that average class size in American
schools dropped from 30 in 1961 to 23 in 1998, without any
improvement in standardized-test scores. "

http://www.seattletimes.com/news/editorial/html98/clased_19990822.html
zip36\clip\99\16\classize.txt
SEATTLE TIMES NIXES LOCKE'S CLASS SIZE IDEA Seattle Times Aug 22,
1999 editorial Locke said that he'd be willing to raise taxes to
reduce class size, but the editorial says that it will only cause
problems if it doesn't come with funding for classrooms and new
teachers, and research shows teacher education and experience and
reorganization of class time and resources have a better effect than
class size, and removing perverse incentive for low test scores built
into LAP funding. Lock fufills half of his promise by shifting
millions towards schools, but his proposals should align with research

DRIVE FOR SMALLER CA CLASSES ONLY CREATES SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS AND
CLASSROOMS "Class Conflict" Robyn Gearey, New Republic April 21, 1997
p. 12. A new law encouraging smaller class sizes has only created a
shortage of classrooms and teachers. F041097-1

CA SPENDS MONEY TO MAKES CLASSES SMALLER

\clip\96\10\classize.txt Monday, December 3, 1996  Page A1  1996
San Francisco Chronicle PAGE ONE (SACRAMENTO) -- Class Sizes in
California Shrink Fast Plan praised, but more money sought

Comment - dumb idea, Korea and Taiwan has huge class sizes and they
do great. This will have little or no effect on achievment.


\clip\96\09\timss.txt 11/20/96 Study: Girls weak in science, Asians
tops BY LESLIE GEVIRTZ Reuters News Service South Korea proved the
contrary, the study showed. In a number of countries nearly all
students were in classes of fewer than 30 students, but in South
Korea, class size was regularly more than 40. (The Third Internatinal
Math and Science Study)

\priv\96\16\cutsize.htm San Francisco Chronicle May 22, 1996 p. A1
"Plan to Cut Class Size Could Cause Problems" Governer Pete Wilson
wants to cut class size from 30 to 20 in 1st and 2nd grades, but
some worry it will be difficult to build enough classrooms to 
accomodate the change.

NATIONS WITH LARGEST CLASSES SCORED THE BEST
US Squanders $6.4 Trillion to Rank Last in Education
http://fathers.ourfamily.com/educatewomen.htm OPINION When that
didn't work, we reduced class sizes to be able to provide more
individual attention to females, providing the smallest class sizes
in the world, even though the international data shows that those
with the largest classes also have the highest academic skills
http://fathers.ourfamily.com/timssclassize.htm

CLASS SIZES DOWN AS ACHIEVEMENT GOES DOWN \clip\98\14\moreteac.txt Do
more Teachers Mean Better Education?  Investors Business Daily
Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Figures from the National Center for
Educational Statistics show the ratio of pupils to teachers dropping
steadily over the past decades. In '70, a ratio of 22.4 students to
every teacher prevailed in public and private schools across the
country.  The figure projected for '96 comes in nearly 25% lower,
with kids outnumbering teachers by a 17 to 1 margin.


@@Asia

Dennis Quan notes: In 1998, all the top scorers in the TIMSS (Third
International Math and Science Survey of 4th, 8th, 12th graders in
top 50 or so countries), which uses a very tough set of exam
questions on a sample of 10,000 in each county, have very large
classes sizes.  Top winner, South Korea, average 49 kids per teacher.
Remember, fuzzy education pushes agenda such as OBE, STE

Shooting for an A Wall Street Journal April 13, 2000 Linda Lim,
Michigan professor has done comparative studies of U.S. and Asian
schools has found that class sizes of 50 plus in places like Taiwan
have not kept those schools from outperforming ours. Punchline of
presentation is that nothing is a silver bullet. What matters is
parental involvment and motivation.


@@Catholic 

BLACK STUDENTS DO BETTER IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ON NAEP, EVEN AT = WITH
LOW PAY, LARGE CLASS SIZES, STRICT DISCIPLINE INCOME
\clip\99\19\cathblak.txt
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-10/07/224l-100799-idx.html
Catholic School Blacks' Math Scores Exceed Public Students', Study
Says By Debbi Wilgoren Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, October
7, 1999; Page B09 Classes are often bigger than in public
schools--they can have 35 students or more


@@College

STUDY SHOWS MORE TAKE ACT OR SAT WITH SMALLER CLASS SIZE
z37\clip\2001\01\sizeact.txt ACADEME TODAY: The Chronicle of Higher
Education's Daily Report for subscribers 1.1.15 In 1985, more than
11,000 students from kindergarten to the third grade were randomly
assigned to small or regular-size classes within 79 Tennessee public
schools, an experiment called Project STAR (Student-Teacher
Achievement Ratio).  "For the sample of high-school seniors in 1998,
43.7 percent of students initially assigned to a small class took
either the ACT or SAT exam, whereas 40.0 percent of those assigned to
a regular class took one of the exams," a statistically significant
difference,

@@District of Columbia



http://www.heritage.org/library/cda/cda99-08.html#pgfId=1056255
The District had per-pupil expenditures in the 1996-1997 academic
year of $9,123; the U.S.  average for the same period is $6,057. In
1996, D.C. schools had a student-teacher ratio of 13.7:1; the
national average was 17.1:1. See American Legislative Exchange
Council, Report Card on American Education, 1998, at
http://www.alec.org/admin/uploadedfiles/rced2.pdf. 

@@For 

LOWER CLASSS SIZE RAISES 50TH PCT KID TO 63RD
http://www.heritage.org/library/cda/cda99-08.html#pgfId=1056341
COMPARING MATH SCORES OF BLACK STUDENTS IN D.C.'S PUBLIC AND CATHOLIC
SCHOOLS KIRK A. JOHNSON, PH.D.  Frederick Mosteller released a
groundbreaking study in 1995. 33 Its purpose was to determine the
effect of reducing classroom sizes for first graders from a
student-teacher ratio of 25:1 to a ratio of 15:1. He determined that
in mathematics achievement the average first grader in the 15:1
classroom will outscore nearly 63 percent of his or her peers in 25:1
classrooms.  33. Frederick Mosteller, "The Tennessee Study of Class
Size in the Early School Grades," The Future of Children, Vol. 5
(1995), pp.  113-127.

LOCKE WANTS TO RAISE TAXES TO LOWER CLASS SIZES
zip36\clip\99\16\lockclass.txt Friday, August 13, 1999 Locke wants to
shrink class sizes in elementary schools by Dionne Searcey Seattle
Times Olympia bureau OLYMPIA - Gov. Gary Locke wants to launch an
effort that could cut elementary-school class sizes by as much as
half, and he may consider proposing changes to the voter-approved
spending limit to do it.  [this is a big waste of taxpayer money...]


@@General

HIGHER SCORES BUT OTHER PROBLEMS WITH CA SMALL CLASS SIZE
http://www.sjmercury.com/premium/front/docs/classsize23.htm
\clip\99\12\size.txt June 23, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News
Study shows smaller classes mean trade-offs BY LORI ARATANI Mercury
News Staff Writer " In the report (available at www.classize.org),
researchers found that students had made some achievement gains. The
number of third-grade students from smaller classes who scored above
the national average in mathematics, reading and language on the
state's achievement test was slightly higher than for those taught in
larger classes.  " 

Students taught in smaller classes are scoring
higher on standardized tests, but California public schools are
paying the price, giving up libraries and computer labs and hiring
growing numbers of inexperienced teachers to staff classrooms,
according to the first comprehensive study of California's $4
billion-plus effort to reduce class size for primary-grade students.

SMALLER CLASS SIZE OR BETTER SOCIOECONOMICS?
\clip\98\20\edclip04.txt Los Angeles Times Tuesday, December 29, 1998
Smaller Classes Aid Test Scores, Results Show By NICK ANDERSON, Times
Staff Writer Students who participated in the state's class size
reduction program fared modestly better on last spring's state
reading and mathematics tests than those who did not,

                           READING 
                           Classes capped at 20 students: 41% 
                           Classes not capped: 33% 
                                     * * *
                           MATH 
                           Classes capped at 20 students: 43% 
                           Classes not capped: 36% 


Link Smaller isn't better: why
reduced class size doesn't improve public education by Richard C.
Leonardi The University of Rochester's Eric A. Hanushek, a leading
authority on school finance, recently surveyed national and
international school systems and found little or no relationship
between class size and achievement test scores.1

\clip\98\04\classize.txt Associated Press 02/08/1998 Cutting Class
Size is Popular By ROBERT GREENE AP Education Writer From:
dchiang@juno.com [ See attached article, "cutting class size is
popular". Of course, no one bothers to mention that class sizes in
Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are significantly larger than their American
counterparts. Yet, Asian students blow away the American competition
in both mathematics and science comprehension. - Dave Chiang [from 22
to 20 won't make much difference] It's very expensive, and probably
has more to do with building morale and a positive environment with
the schools than it does with achievement



@@High School

CLASS SIZE MIGHT WORK IN K6, BUT NOT HIGH SCHOOL SCORES
z63\clipim\2002\12\23\class\class.htm December 23, 2002 Scores
unrelated to pupil-teacher ratio SchoolMatch, based in Columbus,
Ohio, compared pupil-teacher ratios with SAT and ACT scores in nearly
13,000 high schools and found that schools with more students per
teacher had just as many students among the top scorers as schools
that had smaller ratios. SchoolMatch counted all certificated
personnel, including teachers of non-academic subjects. It looked
only at schoolwide pupil-teacher ratios and not class size, but class
size is often affected by pupil-teacher ratio. Previous research has
shown a clear link between small classes in elementary schools and
better performance on standardized tests.

From Gerald Bracey The solid research in K-3 comes from Project STAR
in Tennessee.  Probably the best summary is the opening article in
the Summer, 1999 issue of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
That whole issue of EEPA is dedicated to class size issues.  In
addition to this economist Alan Krueger has further analyzed STAR
(Student Teacher Achievement Ratio).  Several of his analyses are at
www.irs.princeton.edu/pubs/working_papers.html.  One is "Economic
considerations and class size," which is working paper #447.  Another
is "The effect of attending a small class in the early grades on
college-test taking and middle school test results" (as you can tell
from the title, the effects from K-3 persist).  Ric Hanushek has
tried to counter the notion that class size is important saying that
while it has an impact, it is more expensive than 


@@world

From USA Today Mar 25, 2008 "Size alone makes small classes better for kids"
Greg Toppo.

"data from the USA, england, Hong Kong and Switzerland" show small
classes work because of what students feel they can do rather than how
teachers teach".

Average class size in 2004
16 Russian Federation
18 Italy
22 Germany
23 France (2003)
23 United States
24 United Kingdom
29 Japan
Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Note: The only Asian nation has the largest class size