ERIC Number: ED466665
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-May
Reference Count: N/A
Sizing Up What Matters.
"Smaller is better" is often the mantra of school leaders with regard to class size, while the benefits of smaller schools are ignored. Benefits of small classes seem obvious--teachers with fewer students could devote more time to each student. Conducted in 1985-89, Tennessee's Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio) found that students in smaller classes for 4 full years, K-4, were 5 months ahead of peers by grade 8. These results were widely publicized and influenced public policy across the country. Subsequently, other researchers found major flaws in the STAR study, but policy implementation in other states had already begun. In 1996 California began a massive effort to lower the average K-3 class size from 28 to 20. Despite costing an estimated $8 billion, class size reduction has produced no achievement gains, according to state-commissioned evaluators. Other research in the United States and other countries has also failed to support small-class assumptions. On the other hand, a lot of evidence indicates that decreasing school size is a more promising reform than smaller classes. Research has shown that small schools can offer a strong core curriculum and comparable levels of academically advanced courses; are safer; and produce greater feelings of connectedness and engagement among students. Since World War II, the average school size has grown by a factor of five, student-teacher ratios have sharply declined, and academic achievement has fallen. These phenomena alone show that "smaller is better" for schools, not classes. It appears that politics may trump reality. (Contains 21 endnotes.) (SV)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Class Size, Educational Change, Educational Environment, Educational Policy, Educational Research, Elementary Secondary Education, School District Size, School Size, Small Classes, Small Schools, Teacher Student Ratio
Center for Education Reform, 1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 ($3). Tel: 202-822-9000; Fax: 202-822-5077. For full text: http://www.edreform.com/pubs/smallschools.htm.
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for Education Reform, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: California; Tennessee