1. Reducing Class Size What Do We Know?
Research completed by the U.S. government in 1999 on the impact of class size. The article’s conclusion is that students achieve best when in classes of 15-20 and the greatest impact of this is in grades 1–4 (for grades 5-12 the evidence is not as convincing). The article cites major studies mostly completed in the 80’s and 90’s. Some of the improvements are: improved classroom atmosphere, students receive more individual attention, teacher has more flexibility for differentiation, more time for parents, fewer students to distract each other, reduced noise level, students more engaged. As a result of smaller class sizes, test scores also increased.
2. Class Size from Education Week Dec. 1, 2011
Article includes a short history of the class size issue in the last ten years with an emphasis on funding and state laws. In a follow up report on the Tennessee STAR project, students continued to reap the benefits of smaller class size in the early grades as they continued on. This was particularly true for poor and black students. The article closes with the observation that the Obama/Duncan school of thought is to increase the school day rather than decrease class size. The article includes a current list of works cited.
3. The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR by Alan Krueger and Diane Whitmore
This working paper is a follow-up to the Tennessee STAR project which lasted from 1985-89 and began with kindergarten. 11,000 students were randomly assigned classrooms which were either smaller class size, regular class size or regular with a teacher aide. At third grade all students returned to standard classrooms. The authors looked at past attendance in a small class and standardized test scores in elementary schools, if the students took the SAT/ACT and what those scores were. The results indicate that attendance in a smaller class size leads to somewhat higher standardized test scores, and an increased likelihood of taking the SAT/ACT, especially among minority students. “Most significantly, being assigned to a small class appears to have narrowed the black-white gap in college test-taking by 54%.” This is an academic study which includes many charts and shows why and how they draw their conclusions.
4. Class Size: Counting Students Can Count from Essential Information on Education Policy Vol. 1, Issue 2 Fall 2003
Article reviews the Tennessee STAR project and the Wisconsin SAGE projects and concludes that reducing class size leads to greater student achievement, especially with minority students. Ideally students should experience class sizes of 13-17 in the early grades. This can shrink the achievement gap, reduce grade retention, fewer disciplinary actions, less dropping out and more students taking college entrance exams. In their conclusion, the authors state clearly that smaller class size has many benefits but then they caution that it is expensive and this cost should be considered.
5. Benefits of Small Class Size by American Federation of Teachers Issue Brief, Nov. 2003
Outlines the reasons the AFT supports smaller class sizes.