“While decreasing class size may increase achievement on average for all types of students, it does not appear to reduce the achievement gap within a class,” said Spyros Konstantopoulos, assistant professor at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.
Konstantopoulos’ study, which appears in the March issue of Elementary School Journal, questions commonly held assumptions about class size and the academic achievement gap -- one of the most debated and perplexing issues in education today.
The Northwestern professor worked with data from Project STAR, a landmark longitudinal study launched in 1985 by the State of Tennessee to determine whether small classes positively impacted the academic achievement of students.
Considered one of the most important investigations in education, STAR made it abundantly clear that on average small classes had a positive impact on the academic performance of all students.
For most school advocates, parents and policy makers, that finding was enough to call for smaller class size. However, Konstantopoulos found that that the children who already were high achievers were the primary beneficiaries of the extra attention smaller classes afforded.
“It is likely that high achievers are more engaged in learning opportunities and take advantage of the teaching practices that take place in smaller classes, or that they create opportunities for their own learning in smaller classes,” said Konstantoupoulos.
“Given that class size reduction is an intervention that benefits all students, it’s tempting to expect that it also will reduce the achievement gap,” he added. Previous research, however, has provided weak or no evidence that class reduction benefited lower-achieving students more than others. The Northwestern study underscores that research.
The Northwestern study findings suggest that small classes produce significantly higher variability in achievement than regular classes in kindergarten mathematics and in first grade reading. Overall the results indicate that class size reduction increases not only achievement for all students on average, but the variability in student achievement as well.
“It is unfortunate that data about classroom practices that could be useful in identifying ways of improving academic success for lower achieving students were not available in Project STAR,” Konstantopoulos said. “A new randomized experiment with the objective of collecting high-quality observational data in the classrooms would provide invaluable information about the effects of small classes.”
Wendy Leopold | EurekAlert!
Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences