Studies Disagree: Are Bigger Classes Bad for Students?
It’s conventional wisdom that smaller classes are better for students, who will receive more individualized attention. Smaller classes, particularly of younger students, are also easier for teachers to manage. But as budget cuts get passed in response to lower tax-revenue, schools are asking how much worse bigger classes will be.
Various studies that have been conducted on the issue disagree. A landmark study conducted in Tennessee, called The Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio project, or STAR project, found that kindergarten and first-graders did significantly better academically in classes of 13 to 17 students, compared with classes of 22 to 25 students. However, these findings apply to a student population consisting of low-income families.
But studies that have measured the effectiveness of state-wide programs to reduce class size have found them to make no difference in student performance. Florida passed a law to reduce overall class sizes in 2002. Research conducted at Harvard found that the change had no impact on student achievement. Stanford University looked at similar legislation passed in California, and found that it too had little impact on student performance.
However, parents care more about keeping classes small than the findings of the research. Some experts say that quality of teaching plays a more important role in student performance than the teacher to student ratio.
Via USA Today.
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