Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Class size alone not enough to close academic achievement gap

A Northwestern University study investigating the effects of class size on the achievement gap between high and low academic achievers suggests that high achievers benefit more from small classes than low achievers, especially at the kindergarten and first grade levels.

“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!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>