On the surface, it would seem like smaller class sizes would produce better educational outcomes. Intuitively, this makes sense.
Research tells a different story, however. Research by Harvard economist Caroline M. Hoxby titled “The effects of class size on student achievement: New evidence from population variation”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 115 :4 (2000), 1239-1285, which can be read here: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/hoxby/papers/effects.pdf makes a different conclusion. Some quotes from the study:
I identify the effects of class size on student achievement using longitudinal variation in the population associated with each grade in 649 elementary schools. I use variation in class size driven by idiosyncratic variation in the population. I also use discrete jumps in class size that occur when a small change in enrollment triggers a maximum or minimum class size rule. The estimates indicate that class size does not have a statistically significant effect on student achievement. I rule out even modest effects (2 to 4 percent of a standard deviation in scores for a 10 percent reduction in class size).
Using both methods, I find that reductions in class size have no effect on student achievement. The estimates are sufficiently precise that, if a 10 percent reduction in class size improved achievement by just 2 to 4 percent of a standard deviation, I would have found statistically significant effects in math, reading, and writing. I find no evidence that class size reductions are more efficacious in schools that contain high concentrations of low income students or African-American students.
As we in Wichita and Kansas prepare to make important decisions on school funding, let’s use research, not feelings, to make informed and rational decisions.Learn how you can support the Voice for Liberty. Click here.