Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
School & District Management

Smaller Classes in L.A. Seen Lifting Test Scores, Especially Among Poor

By Debra Viadero — April 25, 2001 | Corrected: February 23, 2019 1 min read

Corrected: The company Vital Research was incorrectly identified as Vital Search in portions of this story.

Students in Los Angeles are learning more in small classes.

Researchers from Vital Search reached that conclusion after they were hired to study the impact of California’s $1.5 billion-a-year class-size-reduction initiative on students in the nation’s second-largest school district. The Los Angeles-based research firm released some preliminary findings from its evaluation here during the April 10-14 meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

Begun in 1996, the state’s effort aimed to reduce classes in kindergarten through 3rd grade from an average of 30 pupils to about 20. To gauge the impact in Los Angeles, the researchers gathered test scores for 20,000 students who were in 3rd grade during the 1998-99 school year, about two years into the initiative. They compared the scores with those for students who had been in 3rd grade in 1996-97, the last school year before smaller classes were fully instituted.

In keeping with most other studies on the educational impact of shrinking classes, the researchers found that scores were higher for students in the trimmed-down classes—particularly in mathematics and language arts.

The effects were greatest, they found, in low-achieving, year- round schools with large poor and Hispanic enrollments. In those schools, the effect sizes were nearly double those for children in better-off neighborhoods.

The improvements were even larger than those announced last year by a consortium of research groups conducting a separate, statewide evaluation of the program.(“Smaller Class Sizes Get Mixed Review,” July 12, 2000.)

Even so, the Los Angeles researchers say they may have underestimated the gains. One reason, they noted, is that their study did not include students with limited English proficiency, a sizable group in the 723,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District.

“The policy implications of our data are clear,” said Harold N. Urman, a research partner at Vital Research. “Class-size reduction helps, and it helps low-income students the most.”

Coverage of research is underwritten in part by a grant from the Spencer Foundation.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2001 edition of Education Week as Smaller Classes in L.A. Seen Lifting Test Scores, Especially Among Poor

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

School & District Management Student Mental Health and Learning Loss Continue to Worry Principals
Months into the pandemic, elementary principals say they still want training in crucial areas to help students who are struggling.
3 min read
Student sitting alone with empty chairs around her.
Maria Casinos/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion A Road Map for Education Research in a Crisis
Here are five basic principles for a responsible and timely research agenda during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robin J. Lake
4 min read
Two opposing sides reaching out to work together
J.R. Bee for Education Week
School & District Management 1,000 Students, No Social Distancing, and a Fight to Keep the Virus Out
A principal describes the "nightmare" job of keeping more than 1,000 people safe in the fast-moving pandemic.
4 min read
Dixie Rae Garrison, principal of West Jordan Middle School, in West Jordan, Utah.
Dixie Rae Garrison, principal of West Jordan Middle School in West Jordan, Utah, would have preferred a hybrid schedule and other social distancing measures.
Courtesy of Dixie Rae Garrison
School & District Management A School Leader Who Calls Her Own Shots on Battling the Coronavirus
A charter school founder uses her autonomy to move swiftly on everything from classroom shutdowns to remote schooling.
3 min read
Nigena Livingston, founder and head of School at the URBAN ACT Academy in Indianapolis, Ind.
Nigena Livingston, founder and head of school at the URBAN ACT Academy in Indianapolis, makes swift decisions in responding to the threat of COVID-19 in her school community.
Courtesy of Nigena Livingston