Primary Class Size

I've been thinking about the cuts that are going on everywhere.  Wall Street didn't generate the tax receipts New York is accustomed to, The Gov has decided his last act is going to be a slash-and-burn fix of the State budget.  And, icing on the cake, the area is seeing declining enrollment.  So...cuts. Cuts to programs, cuts to staffing. The cuts have to be so deep that districts have even asked teachers to open their contracts up. The teachers blame the district and the State for fiscal mismanagement. The district and the newspapers blame 'those damn teachers.'  Everyone claims they have the students' best interests in mind.

Long rant to make my point I suppose.  But at the least class size is going to increase. Let's say districts find away to get coverage for all existing classes. Let's say the budget passes with sports included.  Class size is still going to increase.  So how much will that affect students?  Will the changes negatively impact them? 

Here, here, here and here are summary reports on the research that has been done.  Most of the research is actually more that a decade old. Some goes back as far as the 1970s.  I didn't see much recent research. I figure 1) the research already done was very thorough, especially Tennessee's STAR and 2) class sizes steadily declined during the Roaring 2000s- class size wasn't much of an issue.

This is what I learned...
  • Class size reduction (CSR) at the earliest grades (K-3) raises student achievement.
  • The results for CSR are most clear at the K-1 levels, less so at the 2-3 levels.
  • Class sizes should fall as low as 13-17 students per class, certainly below 20.
  • CSR for 2 or more consecutive years will have the most lasting effects.
  • Minorities and low-income students benefit the most.
  • Adding aides has no positive effect.
  • CSR may be expensive upfront. Really important right now.
I still wonder...
  • What effect will early CSR have on secondary education?
  • What would CSR do if implemented at the secondary level?
  • How much the researchers took teacher quality into account?  Would better teachers influence the results?
I'm not sure how much I've answered my own questions that started this post.  What my limited research has done is reinforce my belief that the earliest interventions are the best.  The sooner you address potential issues, the easier things are going to be for all parties involved. 

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