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: firstname.lastname@example.org [ 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