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ERIC Number: ED473405
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 32
Abstractor: N/A
What Research Says about Small Classes and Their Effects. In Pursuit of Better Schools: What Research Says.
Biddle, Bruce J.; Berliner, David C.
Interest in class size is widespread today. Debates often take place about "ideal" class size. Controversial efforts to reduce class size have appeared at both the federal level and in various states around the nation. This paper reviews research on class size and discusses findings, how these findings can be explained, and policy implications. Some findings show that short-term exposure to small classes (less than 20) increased measured student achievement, but that those gains were often minor. Gains in student achievement were stronger for the early grades and most notably for students who came from groups traditionally disadvantaged in education. Programs considered in this paper include Indiana's Project Prime Time, Tennessee's Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) Project, Wisconsin's Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) Program, and the California Class Size Reduction Program. Conclusions are that, when planned carefully, long-term exposure to small classes in the early grades do generate gains in student achievement and that gains can increase with more exposure. However, evidence for possible advantages of small classes in the upper grades and high school is so far inconclusive. The paper concludes with a discussion of possible theories, and policy and action implications. (Contains 64 references and 3 figures.) (RT)
Education Policy Studies Laboratory, College of Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, Box 872411, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. Tel: 480-965-1886; Fax: 480-965-0303; e-mail:; Web site: For full text:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Arizona State Univ., Tempe. Education Policy Studies Lab.
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A
Note: Part of the Education Policy Reports Project (EDRP).