As Aristotle once noted, "the fate of empires depends on the education of youth" (Russo, 2010). It should be comforting that voters regularly rank education as a top priority. Yet, despite countless reform experiments, public schools continue to be bogged down with the same problems today that troubled them twenty years ago. Of all the solutions people have come up with to solve these issues, one of the most popular appears to be class size reduction. Kirk Johnson, Ph.D., a senior policy analyst from the Heritage Foundation reported, “70 percent of adults believe that reducing class size would lead to significant academic improvements in public schools” (2000). The implication is that voters are willing to pay for class size reduction. Because of the support of taxpayers all across Minnesota class sizes in grades K - 2 should not be more than 15 students per class to provide student and teacher an optimum learning environment.
Research on class size along with instruction goes back to a series of studies from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, performed at Teachers College, Columbia University, and at the University of Texas at Austin. The studies looked carefully at several classroom conditions both in smaller and larger classes. Some of the data hints at some kind of threshold effect in considering how many students can be in a classroom before achievement starts to drop. This threshold can vary by socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Glass and Smith used meta-analysis as they looked at all studies that had been done about the effects of class size on achievement there conclusion was “that the optimum class size is less than 15 and that the effects are greatest for children under 12 years of age” (1979).
The issue of course is not whether there exists any evidence that class size reduction ever matters. Surely we can all agree class size reductions are helpful and many would propose imperative that is why this issue deserves the highest attention possible despite the costly efforts needed to put this plan into action. Simply put, with a reduced student-to-teacher ratio across the state of Minnesota in grades K - 2, teachers would be able to give students more attention and fewer students would get left behind. Since teachers would have a smaller group of students to manage, they could move through their planned assignments at a smoother pace while keeping every student on task and be afforded the use of a wider assortment of educational materials to enrich teaching. Another added benefit would be the increased interaction as well as improved relationships that could occur between students and teachers. That is a lot of bang for your bucks.
Researchers at the London Institute of Education carried out a longitudinal class size study called the CSPAR project. It looked at 10,000 children over a three year period in grades K - 3 using several “qualitative and quantitative approaches” (Blatchfort et al., 2003) on class size and the effects on...