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Does Class Size Matter?

A subject that encompasses everyone’s life is school. School, or education, has been a hotly debated topic throughout the nation, and this is not without reason. School sets the framework for the nation. Many times, politicians will state that “children are our future” or something else related to education, but beyond this, school is in itself a government-provided commodity. What this means is that education is a supposedly equal platform that all citizens can stand upon, a guarantee, an insurance that regardless of wealth, gender, or race, everyone has the right to education.

One hotly debated question in regards to school and the education system is “Does class size matter?” The NEPC (National Educational Policy Center) Editorial Review Board seems to say yes.

In general, the NEPC claims that “class size is an important determinant of student outcomes.” And obviously, class size is something that can be directly affected by the educational policies of today.

Many opposers to a reduction of class sizes bring up the fact that this will cost more money. Keep in mind that public schools are funded by the government, and that the government is funded by tax money that the people pay. It is important that this tax money is focused on the important things. However, a response to this “waste of government funding” would be that this money would be justified by an overall increase in the effectiveness of school and the students’ learning. All these positive results are important to keep in mind.

The best evidence of reduced class sizes actually improving students’ learning capabilities is the Tennessee’s randomized STAR experiment. For those unaware, the STAR test is a test that measures Student Teacher Achievement Ratio. From 1985 to 1989, 79 Tennessee elementary schools were randomly assigned to either regular (22-25 students per class) or small-sized (13-17 students per class) classes. Randomness implies a disregard for any other qualities, such as social class, gender, or race. The results from the STAR were astounding.

Tennessee saw a 5 percentile increase for smaller sized class students across the board!

In review, though it is true that smaller class sizes call for more funding and more taxes, when deciding the future of our nation, and the outcome of our students, we must not cut any expenses.

About Jerry Xu

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