One More Time Now: Why Lowering Class Sizes Backfires

Published on Education Next, March 21, 2017, by Bryan Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel

You’ve probably read an article with a headline like this. Why say it again? Because class-size reduction continues to be so seductive. Our own state of North Carolina is just the latest in which policymakers have succumbed, causing a political firestorm this winter. Here it’s Republicans, but Democrats have heard the same call elsewhere. We thought we’d remind policymakers why they need to avoid the temptation.

Unlike many education issues, this one isn’t just a matter of opinion. Florida spent billions on class-size reduction with no positive impact on student results. A statewide study of Connecticut elementary schools found no statistically significant impact of class sizes.

But we understand why the concept still ensnares people. Surveys of teachers and parents alike reveal a lot of support for it: It makes common sense that teachers can more easily succeed with smaller classes. And some rigorous research suggests that dramatically reducing class sizes from the typical low-mid 20s to the 13–17 range has a positive effect on student learning in the K–3 years. (There’s no strong evidence of the value of small classes in grades 4+).

Why don’t these findings translate into statewide results? Read the full article here

Keep Learning