A Primer on Class-Size Reductions, from BrookingsPosted: May 18, 2011
Research has generally shown that keeping class sizes low has a positive effect on students’ academic achievement at early grades, and among disadvantaged students. The effects at higher grades tend to be less impressive. As state legislatures and school boards play the class-size game, a new paper from the Brookings Institution tries to lay out what research says about class-size reductions—and perhaps just as important, what research hasn’t told us yet.
One of the challenges for elected officials and educators is that there is no research in the United States that directly compares class-size reductions to alternative investments, note the authors, Grover J. Whitehurst and Matthew M. Chingos. That means, for example, that comparing the benefits of $20 billion worth of spending on keeping class sizes small, versus $20 billion in spending on paying teachers more, involves a lot more guesswork than science.