ERIC Number: ED418208
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Class Size and Students at Risk. What Is Known? What Is Next? A Commissioned Paper.
Finn, Jeremy D.
This report is an overview of recent research on the effects of class size on the academic performance and behavior of students at risk. In several ways it is not a conventional literature review. It emphasizes one recent large-scale investigation, Tennessee's Project STAR (Student-Teacher-Achievement-Ratio), begun in 1985. It is more evaluative than most reviews of research, stressing the strengths and weaknesses of the studies cited, and it stresses the need for future research more than the typical literature review. The first chapter reviews the status of research on class size with particular attention to the STAR investigation and the research it has inspired. The conclusiveness of the findings is discussed, as well as implications for students at risk and for education policy in general. The second chapter discusses approaches that have been taken to assess the costs and benefits of reducing class size and proposes additional dimensions that need to be considered, and the third explores the implications of small class size for classroom management and instructional strategies, with particular attention to the need to increase the academic engagement of students at risk. Issues requiring further research are identified throughout the paper, but summarized in the last chapter as a research agenda. The focus is, in most cases, on the effects of small classes in the early grades, because the most current and best research has been at this level. Project STAR has demonstrated that small classes benefit students in kindergarten through grade 3 academically. That pupil behaviors are affected has been shown clearly in the STAR grade-4 follow-up, in which ratings of specific engagement dimensions revealed improvements in the expenditure of effort, initiative taking, and reduced disruptive and inattentive behavior in comparison to students in regular classes. Substantially more research is needed to tell about the connections among teaching practices, engagement behaviors, and academic achievement for at-risk students and through the later grades. (Contains 1 table, 1 figure, and 75 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Inst. on the Education of At-Risk Students (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.