Tag Archives: class size matters

Is a small school better for students than small class size?

12 Jan

There is an ongoing discussion or battle about whether class size matters in effective learning. Class size reduction theory has both supporters and skeptics. Leonie Hamson writes in the Washington Post article, 7 Class Size Myths — And the Truth      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/class-size/7-class-size-myths—-and-the.html There is of course, a contrary opinion. The Center for American Progress has a report by Mathew M. Chingos, The False Promise of Class-Size Reduction   https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2011/04/14/9526/the-false-promise-of-class-size-reduction/

Gina Jordan reported in the State Impact article, Why Small Schools Might Be Better For Students Than Small Classes:

Now, an analysis by government watchdog Florida Taxwatch finds that small classes do make a difference in outcomes for kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade – but not in higher grades. The report’s author, Bob Nave, says the state is better off focusing on smaller schools, like SAS, rather than small classes.

“It’s fairly common sense that smaller classes should result in improved student performance,” Nave says. “The problem is the research just doesn’t back that up.”

The group compiled research showing students in smaller schools do better in math and reading, have fewer behavior problems, and participate in more extracurricular activities. They’re also more likely to graduate.

Nave says the state was actually on a path toward having smaller schools in 2000, when the Florida Legislature passed a law limiting the size of new schools under construction.  Then, the class size amendment passed.

“The Legislature was forced not only to fund small schools, but now they had to fund small classes,” Nave says. “When one looks at the amount of money that was projected for school construction, it became clear that the Legislature could not do both.”

So lawmakers repealed the school size law to focus on class size……                                               http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2015/01/05/report-small-schools-trump-small-classes-in-academic-outcomes/

See, New evidence that small schools work?   http://hechingered.org/content/new-evidence-that-small-schools-work_4750/

Here are the conclusions and policy implications from Smaller Schools, Not Smaller Classes:

Conclusions

Based on a literature review, the findings of studies analyzing the effects of school size on student achievement, student behavior, curriculum, economies of scale, and teacher quality suggest the following recurring themes:

  • Student academic achievement is higher in small schools, and this is especially true for minority and low-income students.
  • A greater percentage of students in small schools participate in extracurricular activities, and greater participation is associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including: higher self-esteem, higher educational aspirations, less delinquency, and greater involvement in community activities as an adult.
  • Small schools offer a climate that is more conducive to learning.
  • The cost per student is generally higher in a small school; however, once the size of a school exceeds some optimal level, the cost per student begins to increase, not decrease.
  • Although large schools generally offer a wider range of courses than small schools, there is no reliable relationship between school size and the quality of curriculum.
  • Large schools have an advantage over small schools in terms of teacher qualifications.
  • There is no clear agreement among researchers and educators about what constitutes a “small” school or a “large” school. What is considered to be a large school to one researcher may be considered a small school to another.

Policy Implications

The research suggests that two U-shaped relationships exist with respect to school size, one for student achievement and one for cost efficiency. In both relationships, there is a point at which the positive benefits associated with school size begin to diminish.

This suggests that there is an optimal size for public schools in Florida, above or below which produces diminishing returns in terms of student achievement and cost efficiency. An optimal school size could be calculated that represents the range in the number of students in which school size continues to show a positive relationship between student achievement and cost efficiency. Andrews, et al. (2002), reviewed a number of production function studies and found some evidence that moderately sized elementary schools (300-500 students) and high schools (600- 900 students) may optimally balance economies of size with the negative effects of large schools.

The Florida Legislature recognized the benefits associated with small school size and, in 2000, enacted legislation that required all plans for new educational facilities to be constructed to plans for small chools.

Small schools were defined as follows:

  • Elementary schools—student population of not more than 500 students;
  • Middle schools—student population of not more than 700 students;
  • High schools—student population of not more than 900 students;
  • Combination (K-8) schools—student population of not more than 700 students; and
  • Combination (K-12) schools—student population of not more than 900 students.

The establishment of enrollment limits for new school construction by the

Legislature was a responsible action supported by a substantial body of research demonstrating the positive benefits of small school size. The voters, however, put the Legislature in a difficult position in 2002 with the passage of the constitutional amendment establishing class size limits. This forced the Legislature to fund both small schools and small class sizes. Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds, the primary source of funding for new educational facility construction, decreased from $807.0 million in fiscal year 2002-03 to $752.4 million in fiscal year 2003- 04 and no significant increase in PECO revenues was projected over the short term.

With insufficient revenues to fund both small schools and small classes, the Legislature acted responsibly when it repealed the requirements for small school construction in 2003. This is a good example of a popular initiative trumping a sound public policy that is based upon a competent and substantial body of

empirical research…..   http://www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/SmallSchoolsFINAL.pdf

The battle between those who say class size matters and those who say it does not continues to simmer.

Related:

Reducing class size in an era of reduced state budgets

https://drwilda.com/2012/06/16/reducing-class-size-in-an-era-of-reduced-state-budgets/

Battle of the studies: Does class size matter?

https://drwilda.com/2012/01/30/battle-of-the-studies-does-class-size-matter/

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National Education Policy Center study: Class size matters

24 Feb

In Battle of the studies: Does class size matter? Moi said:
There is an ongoing discussion or battle about whether class size matters in effective learning. Class size reduction theory has both supporters and skeptics. Leonie Hamson writes in the Washington Post article, 7 Class Size Myths — And the Truth There is of course, a contrary opinion. The Center for American Progress report by Mathew M. Chingos, The False Promise of Class-Size Reduction says advocates for class size reducation have not made their case.

In the Executive Summary Chingos reports:
There is surprisingly little high-quality research, however, on the effects of class size on student achievement in the United States. The credible evidence that does exist is not consistent, and there are many low-quality studies with results all over the map. The most encouraging results for CSR come from a single experiment conducted in the 1980s, which found that a large reduction in class size in the early grades increased test scores, particularly among low-income and African American students. But evaluations of large-scale CSR policies in California and Florida have yielded much less positive results, perhaps because of the need to hire so many (inexperienced and potentially less effective) new teachers. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2011/04/14/9526/the-false-promise-of-class-size-reduction/

Chingos does not believe the advocates for smaller class size have made their case.

Suzy Kihmm reported in the Washington Post article, Study: Class size doesn’t matter:

Two Harvard researchers looked at the factors that actually improve student achievement and those that don’t. In a new paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Will Dobbie and Roland Freyer analyzed 35 charter schools, which generally have greater flexibility in terms of school structure and strategy. They found that traditionally emphasized factors such as class size made little difference, compared with some new criteria:
We find that traditionally collected input measures — class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree — are not correlated with school effectiveness. In stark contrast, we show that an index of five policies suggested by over forty years of qualitative research — frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations — explains approximately 50 percent of the of the variation in school effectiveness.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/study-class-size-doesnt-matter/2012/01/28/gIQAaiZAYQ_blog.html?hpid=z3

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/battle-of-the-studies-does-class-size-matter/

As state and local budgets shrink, class size reduction is shelved in favor of increasing class size. A National Education Policy Center (NEPC) study which reviews prior studies finds class size does matter.

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reported in the article, Class size matters a lot, research shows:

A new review of the major research that has been conducted on class size by Northwestern University Associate Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and published by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder makes clear that class size matters, and it matters a lot. Schanzanbach, an associate professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern and chair of the Institute for Policy Research’s Program on Child, Adolescent, and Family Studies, writes in the review:
Considering the body of research as a whole, the following policy recommendations emerge:
*Class size is an important determinant of student outcomes, and one that can be directly determined by policy. All else being equal, increasing class sizes will harm student outcomes.
* The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children’s test scores in the short run, but also their long-run human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.
* The payoff from class-size reduction is greater for low-income and minority children, while any increases in class size will likely be most harmful to these populations.
* Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/24/class-size-matters-a-lot-research-shows/

Here is the press release from NEPC:

Class-Size Reduction: Better Than You Think
Reference Publication:
Does Class Size Matter?
NEPC policy brief finds strong evidence for the benefits of making classes smaller
Contact:
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, (847) 491-3884, dws@northwestern.edu
URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/k7j64z2
BOULDER, CO (February 18, 2014) – While a series of high-profile and often controversial school reforms has gotten the lion’s share of attention from policymakers over the last decade or two, one reform appears to have been consistently ignored and marginalized: reducing the size of classes.
Yet, as Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach points out in a new policy brief released today, the evidence that class size reduction helps raise student achievement is strong. Schanzenbach’s report, published today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, provides a comprehensive review of class-size research.
According to Professor Schanzenbach, class-size reduction has been the victim of a popular misconception that the strategy has been largely unsuccessful. One recent example, Schanzenbach notes, is the writer Malcolm Gladwell, who in a recent book describes small class sizes as a “thing we are convinced is such a big advantage [but] might not be such an advantage at all.”
In fact, she writes, the real story is just the opposite. “Class size matters,” writes Schanzenbach, an economist and education policy professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “Research supports the common-sense notion that children learn more and teachers are more effective in smaller classes.”
Citing evidence from the academic literature, Schanzenbach explains that “class size is an important determinant of a variety of student outcomes ranging from test scores to broader life outcomes. Smaller classes are particularly effective at raising achievement levels of low-income and minority children.”
Conversely, she points out, raising class size can be shown to be harmful to children. “Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future,” she writes.
“Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds,” Schanzenbach concludes. “While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall.”
Find Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach’s report, Does Class Size Matter? on the web at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/does-class-size-matter.
The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.
This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. A copy of this brief can be found at http://greatlakescenter.org.

The battle between those who say class size matters and those who say it does not continues to simmer.

Related:

Reducing class size in an era of reduced state budgets https://drwilda.com/2012/06/16/reducing-class-size-in-an-era-of-reduced-state-budgets/

Battle of the studies: Does class size matter? https://drwilda.com/2012/01/30/battle-of-the-studies-does-class-size-matter/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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https://drwilda.com/