Class Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy
Since the appearance of his May 2010 working paper, Matthew Chingos has quickly established himself as a go-to name for information on class-size research. And this Brookings paper, co-authored with Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, confirms that status. Building off a paper authored by Chingos for the Center for American Progress back in April, this piece offers a thorough literature review on class-size reduction (CSR), bringing us one step closer to a definitive analysis of the mixed-bag research of CSR. (Some research found positive effects in the early grades, other research found none, and still other research found that gains made by reducing class sizes were offset by the need to pull in lower-quality teachers to staff the newly created classes.) Further, Whitehurst and Chingos warn that CSR mandates and incentives (currently practiced in twenty-four states) are extremely costly: Decreasing the pupil/teacher ratio by just one student would cost $12 billion. Understanding that CSR is cherished by many, the authors recommend two approaches to the policy: First, lift CSR mandates. If that doesn’t work, target them to young, minority children who would most benefit. It may not be a sexy paper, but thorough it is.
Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst and Matthew M. Chingos, “Class Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy,” (Washington, D.C.: Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institute, May 2011).
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