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ERIC Number: ED385935
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Jun
Pages: 51
Abstractor: N/A
Intraschool Variation in Class Size: Patterns and Implications. Working Paper #344.
Boozer, Michael; Rouse, Cecilia
Economists attempting to explain the widening of the black-white wage gap in the late 1970s by differences in school quality have been faced with the problem that recent data reveal virtually no gap in the quality of schools attended by blacks and whites. This paper reexamines racial differences in school quality. It begins by considering the effects of using the pupil-teacher ratio, rather than the school's average class size, in an education-production function, because the pupil-teacher ratio is a rough proxy, at best. Second, the importance of using actual class size rather than school-level measures of class size is considered. Two data sets were analyzed: (1) a 1994 telephone survey of a random sample of 500 New Jersey teachers; and (2) the National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS). The data show that although the pupil-teacher ratio and average class size were correlated, the pupil-teacher ratio was systematically less than or equal to the average class size. Mathematically, part of the difference was due to the intraschool allocation of teachers to classes. As a result, while the pupil-teacher ratio suggests no black-white differences in class size, measures of the school's average class size suggest that blacks were in larger classes. Further, the two measures result in differing estimates of the importance of class size in an education-production function. Another conclusion was that school-level measures may obscure important within-school variation in class size due to the small class sizes for compensatory education. Because black students are more likely to be assigned to compensatory-education classes, a kind of aggregation bias results. The data found that not only were blacks in schools with larger average class sizes, but they were also in larger classes within schools, depending on class type. The intraschool class-size patterns suggest that using within-school variation in education production functions is not a perfect solution to aggregation problems because of nonrandom assignment of students to classes of differing sizes. However, once the selection problem has been addressed, it appears that smaller classes at the 8th grade lead to larger test score gains from 8th to 10th grade and that differences in class size can explain approximately 15 percent of the black-white difference in educational achievement. Eight tables are included. Appendices contain methodological notes and statistical tables. Contains 20 references. (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A