Small Classes Narrow Achievement Gaps: William Mathis Presents the Research

Small Classes Narrow Achievement Gaps: William Mathis Presents the Research

Posted on July 8, 2016 by janresseger
For two decades the promoters of public school accountability have been preaching a doctrine that demands better outcomes as measured in students’ test scores. These accountability hawks leave any consideration of resource inputs out of the conversation and profess that an excellent teacher can raise achievement by holding higher expectations in spite of adverse circumstances.

In a short, readable brief from the National Education Policy Center, The Effectiveness of Class Size Reduction, William Mathis summarizes decades’ of research on class size to demonstrate the truth of what parents intuitively know: small classes help children. Mathis reminds us that the school “reformers” who have pretended class size doesn’t matter may have found such an argument convenient because hiring enough teachers to staff very small classes is expensive: “Teacher pay and benefits are the largest single school expenditure, representing 80% of the nation’s school budgets. Thus, small class size is a costly, important, contentious and perennial issue.” Mathis rejects the conclusions of Erik Hanushek of the Hoover Institution, the primary critic of reducing class size, who claimed—in a meta-analysis of the research literature—that class size reduction is ineffective for improving students’ achievement. Hanushek’s analysis, explains Mathis, has been widely “criticized on methodological grounds in that he gave more weight to studies that showed no impact from lowering class size, while also treating weak studies as equivalent to those that were experimental and/or of much higher quality.”

janresseger

For two decades the promoters of public school accountability have been preaching a doctrine that demands better outcomes as measured in students’ test scores.  These accountability hawks leave any consideration of resource inputs out of the conversation and profess that an excellent teacher can raise achievement by holding higher expectations in spite of adverse circumstances.

In a short, readable brief from the National Education Policy Center, The Effectiveness of Class Size Reduction, William Mathis summarizes decades’ of research on class size to demonstrate the truth of what parents intuitively know: small classes help children.  Mathis reminds us that the school “reformers” who have pretended class size doesn’t matter may have found such an argument convenient because hiring enough teachers to staff very small classes is expensive: “Teacher pay and benefits are the largest single school expenditure, representing 80% of the nation’s school budgets.  Thus, small class size is a…

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