Class Size and the Effect on Student Performance
La Tonya Flemings Alexander
University of Phoenix
There are many factors that have an influence on the educational process and effect student performance in the public school system. One factor of specific concern is the student-to-teacher ratio in the classroom. The premise is that teachers can coax each of the students, have one-on-one time, and easily identify student strengths and weaknesses. The increase of the population in the United States, the number of teachers, and effects of inclusive learning play a role in the number of students assigned to each classroom for instruction. Population increase has a negative ...view middle of the document...
The population increase in the public school systems across the United States has the greatest negative effect on the performance of the students who live in poverty and whose parents are immigrants. Budget cuts, teacher layoffs, and an increase in the public school system student population affect the ability of the administration to expand for the allowance of smaller class sizes. The school systems have more students and less money for teachers and programs.
The goal of inclusive education is for students with disabilities to become an integral part of the perspective learning environment, but with an increase in the population, budget cuts, and teacher layoffs, the class sizes become larger degrading the educational process, and student performance suffers.
Some classrooms in the public school system have what is considered a large number of students. A large classroom ranges from 25 to 45 students. Although it has been shown that students’ academic performance improved when their class size ranged from 13 to 17 (Viadero, 1998), inclusionists wonder whether such small classes are possible in the foreseeable future (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998).
The reduction of the student to ratio in the classroom in order to increase student achievement has been tried, discussed, researched, and analyzed. Some researchers have not found a connection between smaller classes and higher student achievement, but most of the research shows that when class size reduction programs are well-designed and implemented in the primary grades (K-3), student achievement rises as class size drops (Biddle & Berliner, 2002).
The Research and Notable Programs
Beginning in the mid-1980s, the state of Tennessee legislature funded a four-year study that became known as the Tennessee STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio) Project. The Tennessee STAR Project involved almost 80 schools, more than 300 classrooms, and approximately 6,500 students in K-3 with a diverse background. The study required each school to commit to the time frame and random assignment of teachers and students to small classes or large classes before participating in the Tennessee STAR Project.
Student achievement is compared according to the three types of classrooms defined in the study: standard classroom, supplemented classroom, and a small classroom. For the purpose of the study, a standard class is a class with a certified teacher and more than 20 students. A supplemented class is a class with a certified teacher and a full-time, non-certified teacher’s aide. A small class is a class with a certified teacher and no more than 15 students. Student achievement was assessed in each of the student’s first years in the school. The student academic records follow the students into the higher grades for the purpose of monitoring the records over the four-year period.
Ten years later, the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction initiated the Student Achievement Guarantee in...