Class Size Debate Out of Focus?

By Bryan Toporek — August 04, 2009 1 min read
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Eduwonk thinks concerns about the recession increasing class sizes, as raised by a recent an Associated Press are off base. In his view, schools should be more focused on teacher effectiveness:

It’s actually a frustrating story because (a) there really isn’t much of a debate about whether class size matters more than teacher effectiveness, the research is clear it doesn’t, effectiveness matters more and (b) most districts pay little attention to effectiveness when they lay off teachers. Or much at all.

Eduwonk concedes with the right teaching staff, smaller class sizes (less than 20 students) do have noted benefits, especially for students in the very early grades. But he argues that the class sizes increases caused by the current recessionary cuts are of a different order altogether:

We’re not talking about targeted reductions being at-risk here nor are we talking about really small classes**, more like a student or two here and there and mostly across the board. For instance, the article cites LA where the problem is not whether classes are larger by one or two kids in middle or high school but rather that average class sizes there are, according to AP, 35-43 kids, to begin with. That’s nuts.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.