Tag Archives: class size

Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Suppose all teachers taught: Part III, Some interesting arithmetic

Today, I want to do some simple arithmetic which suggests we could be paying classroom teachers a heck of a lot more if we weren’t having to pay all sorts of extra teachers as “teacher coaches” of various sorts. I am not knocking … Continue reading

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Suppose all teachers taught: Part II, accounting for special-ed

Here’s another picture of class sizes (for the most recent data) versus the average number of students per teacher. Note the red lines are well above the blue line. There are about 16 students for each teacher, although class sizes … Continue reading

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  1. Dan says:

    Only speaking from personal experience, but a number of classrooms have switched to “co-teach” for students near the testing score cutoff.

    Additional teachers without classes or non-class periods are used for test tutoring and pullouts.

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Suppose all teachers taught: Part I, Class size, pupil/teacher ratios, and “extra” teachers

This week I present a short series on the suggestion that if we required all teachers to handle a classroom of students, we could pay teachers a heck of a lot more. The basic point is that we use huge … Continue reading

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School spending and knowing what’s what

The 2014 Education Next poll posed the following question: Suppose the school spending were to be increased, would you favor reducing class size, increasing teacher salaries, or buying new books and technology. Then the clever pollsters asked the same question, this … Continue reading

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  1. Putting this together with your last post, it appears that private schools are taking advantage of rich uninformed parents to prioritize smaller class sizes.

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Teacher quality and class size

We know that the best teachers get incredibly more out of their students than do the worst teachers. So why not assign more students to the best teachers? While the best teachers probably would do a little less well with … Continue reading

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Summing up what we know about class size

Class Size and Student Outcomes, by Matthew Chingos, sums up what we have learned about the importance of class size. Lesson 1: Parents, teachers, and the public at large are all convinced that small classes are wonderful and are prepared … Continue reading

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Class size redux again

Let’s pile on the evidence that across the board cuts in class size don’t help very much. Authors Cho, Glewwe, and Whitler looked at class size reductions in Minnesota. The results are quite unsurprising, although I won’t be surprised if politicians and … Continue reading

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Class size redux

Voters and politicians love class size reduction. This love affair persists in the face all evidence that class size reduction is not a sensible reform. It’s not hard to ballpark the costs of smaller classes. You need more teachers, more … Continue reading

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  1. Jesse Rothstein says:

    I must say, I find this study pretty unconvincing as an evaluation of whether class size reduction is “worth it” (which, for what it is worth, isn’t at all the way the author describes it). He’s pretty explicit that he’s comparing schools/districts that were given additional resources and forced to reduce class size with others that _were given the same extra resources_ but were already compliant with the class size mandate so were free to use the resources however they want. So if the former group didn’t improve relative to the latter group, that just means that districts given freedom to use resources as they see fit find uses that are as productive as is class size reduction — it doesn’t at all mean that class size reduction doesn’t work.

    Moreover, the results are pretty imprecise. Even with a bit of cherry picking, in his district-level analysis (which I find the most credible) he is only just able to reject the magnitude of effects that were estimated from STAR, and that only in reading and not in math. And of course STAR compared class size reduction to a control condition _without_ extra resources, so one would expect the effects to be the same only if districts given unrestricted funds totally fail to use them productively.

    Finally, I have my doubts about the control groups. Roughly, his “treatment” group is South Florida, and his “control” group is northern Florida and the panhandle. These are not exactly comparable places. It looks as if in the pre-policy period the treatment group was paying much higher salaries and making up for it with larger classes. I’m not sure I’d expect either that the trends should have been the same in the two groups or that the marginal productivity of extra revenue is the same in the two places.

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Class size and experienced teachers

Here’s one I just don’t get. Steffen Mueller has gone back and taken another look at the Tennessee STAR experiment. (The experiment in which students were randomly assigned to small (13-17 student) or regular (22-25 student) classes in early elementary school.) … Continue reading

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  1. William Dickens says:

    This is all post-hoc rationalization of course, but the smallest classes I ever taught were essentially one-on-one tutorials when I was a flight instructor and I can see from that experience why only more experienced teachers’ students would benefit from smaller class sizes. New flight instructors tend to stick to the lesson plan. There are certain maneuvers to be learned before you move onto the next one. Instruction isn’t really personal even though you are sitting next to the person in a tiny cockpit. You demonstrate the maneuver and then let them try it. If they don’t get it right you let them try again or demonstrate first and then try again. You could be doing the same thing with 100 students in simulators at the same time and it wouldn’t make much difference. But an experienced flight instructor learns to identify what particular problem is holding the student back. Practicing landing is the student looking too far down the runway or too close to the plane. Is the student afraid to stall the airplane before touchdown. Teaching reading or arithmetic could be the same — only an experienced teacher can really give the individualized instruction that small class sizes allow.

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Making choices

In Profit of Education I wrote,  “the public loves–loves, loves, loves–the idea of smaller classes. So I was awfully pleased to see in the latest Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll that a strong majority of Americans now favor better teachers even … Continue reading

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