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ERIC Number: ED540441
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The Opportunity Cost of Smaller Classes: A State-By-State Spending Analysis. Schools in Crisis: Making Ends Meet
Roza, Marguerite; Ouijdani, Monica
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Two seemingly different threads are in play on the issue of class size. The first is manifested in media reports that tell readers that class sizes are rising to concerning levels. The second thread appears in the work of some researchers and education leaders and suggests that repurposing class-size reduction funds to pay for other reforms may not be such a bad idea. Both threads are evidence of current budget tensions. Constrained revenues are forcing some districts to cut staff, and any tinkering with staffing can drive up enrollment in some classes. While smaller are on many levels desirable, it is also true that smaller classes come with a hefty price tag. In an environment of scarce resources, those seeking better outcomes in education have begun rethinking previous decisions to lock up their funds in small classes. Practically speaking, class sizes already vary from state to state, and any discussion of tradeoffs makes most sense in the context of the existing arrangement. Political tolerance for raising class sizes might depend on the magnitude of current class sizes, as well as the level of funds that can be repurposed in doing so. This brief provides a state-by-state context to the class size discussion by estimating current class sizes by state and by modeling the marginal funds associated with modest changes to each state's average class size. In other words: what are class sizes now? How much money is at stake? Measuring Class Size and Methodology: Calculating Projected Funds Available are appended. (Contains 1 figure, 2 tables, and 26 footnotes.)
Center on Reinventing Public Education. University of Washington Bothell Box 358200, Seattle, WA 98195. Tel: 206-685-2214; Fax: 206-221-7402; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: University of Washington, Center on Reinventing Public Education