file0001439584370Adverse Impacts of Large Class Sizes

  • Makes it difficult for teachers to get to know their students as individuals.
  • Reduces teachers’ ability to tailor instruction to the students’ individual learning styles and needs.  The children at the top and bottom of the spectrum in any class suffer the most.
  • Makes classroom management more difficult and requires more discipline, which can result in less teaching/instructional time.
  • Increases the time it takes a class to complete tasks.
  • Makes it difficult to teach and reinforce work habits and critical executive functioning skills.
  • Reduces the quality of instruction.
  • Reduces or eliminates some activities.
  • Reduces students’ ability to focus on tasks.
  • Creates safety hazards due to inadequate space per student and inadequate supervision, which increases accidents, especially during science labs.
  • Reduces the ability to provide teacher feedback/grading in a timely manner, or at all.
  • Reduces student participation during lessons.
  • Negates a teacher’s ability to effectively implement Level IV instructional strategies requiring small group interaction and participation.
  • Reduces teacher morale and increases teacher turnover.

Links to data & reports are in bolded text.

National Education Policy Center, Northwestern University   February 2014

 “Does Class Size Matter?”  written by Diane Schanzenbach.

National Center for Education Statistics 2011-2012

Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) shows average class size in public primary schools, middle schools, high schools, and schools with combined grades, by classroom type and state.

The Quarterly Journal of Economics-2012

Long Term Effects of Class Size is a peer-reviewed research paper built on the Tennessee STAR class size study. It demonstrates the positive link between small class sizes (20-25 students) and academic achievement, educational attainment, cognitive and non-cognitive evaluations and life time income in Sweden. The authors conclude that smaller class sizes for 10-13 year olds made a statistically significant difference in academic achievement and life time income, irrespective of socioeconomic background. The authors also conduct a cost-benefit analysis and conclude that a reduction in class size from 25 to 20 pupils has an internal rate of return of almost 18%.

Supplementary material to “Long-term effects of class size.” View appendix.

Virginia Education Association

Article written by VA teacher for Virginia Journal of Education about realities of  large class sizes, budgets and political complexities of being a public school teacher in VA.

Class Size Matters. Org

This New York advocacy group has a well organized site with links to pertinent research.  A Class Size Fact Sheet with links to research studies on benefits of class size is provided here. Links to their Class Size Reduction Research is provided here.

 U.S. Department of Education: National Center for Education Statistics. (2000)

Article School-Level Correlates of Academic Achievement: Student Assessment Scores in SASS Public Schools.  The most authoritative study showing the importance of class size is in all grades, analyzing the achievement levels of students in 2,561 schools, as measured by performance on the NAEP (national) exams. After controlling for student background, the only objective factor found to be positively correlated with student performance was class size, not school size, not teacher qualifications, nor any other variable that the researchers could identify. Student achievement was even more strongly linked to smaller classes in the upper rather than the lower grades.

New York’s Education Priorities Panel: Haimson, L. (2000)

Smaller is Better: First-hand Reports of Early Grade Class Size Reduction in New York City Public Schools. This study was carried out during the first year of the class size reduction program for grades K-3 in the New York City public schools. “;On the whole, the class size reduction experience as reported by principals and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive….Many of the students placed in smaller classes appear to be learning faster this year….The quality and quantity of teaching have been fundamentally enhanced…noticeable decline in the number of disciplinary referrals among students placed in smaller classes…all of the principals and teachers we interviewed urged that support for the class size program should be continued and expanded.”;

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