Many teachers, parents, and policy makers see reducing class size as a way to improve how students learn and teachers instruct. In comparison with students in larger classes, various studies suggest that students enrolled in small classes tend to interact more with their teachers, exhibit more pro-social behavior, and have higher achievement scores. Proponents also contend that teachers with small classes better meet diverse student needs. However, others contend that reducing class size is too resource-intensive and that other initiatives—such as those targeting teacher quality and preparation—offer more cost effective strategies to improve student-achievement outcomes.
In Quality Counts 2008, the EPE Research Center found that 21 states had a class size reduction policy in place for the 2007-08 school year. Given the current uncertainty of national financial markets, some commentators have encouraged policymakers to consider whether implementing or broadening class-size-reduction policies is feasible at a time when budget cuts may take shape.
For more state-by-state data on school climate and other topics, search the EPE Research Center’s Education Counts database.