Smaller Class Sizes Might Not Be The Educational Panacea Many Parents Think It Is

A major new study questions the conventional wisdom. Smaller Class Sizes Might Not Be The Educational Panacea Many Parents Think It Is Giphy

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In many districts across the country, the number of students in each class has trended upward over the course of recent decades. This means teachers are required to address the needs of more kids and, as logic would dictate, aren’t able to spend as much one-on-one time meeting the individual requirements of each student.

So it stands to reason that many parents have been advocating for smaller class sizes. But is this really the answer to better student performance and all-around educational success?

What the experts say

A new report published in the International Journal of Science Education turns conventional wisdom on its head, using data gathered from nearly 3,000 high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds in China and Japan to form its conclusions.

In the end, researchers found that:

  • Fewer students in a class doesn’t directly equate to better grades.
  • In some cases, smaller classes resulted in worse educational outcomes.
  • Hiring more teachers doesn’t generate higher academic achievement.

Lead author Tao Jiang explained that, at least in terms of science education, the data found that “emphasizing the reduction of class sizes in school may not benefit resilience” and had either “no relevance to resilience or were disadvantageous for resilience.”

Quality over quantity

It’s a bit of a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. In the end, experts say that attracting the best educators to the classroom is far more impactful for students than simply reducing the number of kids in each class.

Specifically, the report found that teachers with effective discipline standards can boost student performance even in large classes. As a result of the findings, the study’s authors are encouraging education officials at every level to shift their attention from decreased class size to the recruitment of the highest quality teachers possible.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 11th, 2024
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