Responding to the Bill Gates-generated class-size kerfuffle, education writer Dana Goldstein allows that there is little proven correlation between small class sizes and student performance. But, she notes, there’s more to the issue than just test scores:
The problem [with increasing class sizes] is that American parents are concerned not only with their children's test scores, but also with their day to day experiences at school. Parents want their children to have meaningful personal relationships with educators—the sorts of life-changing experiences many of us remember fondly when we think back on our favorite teachers, whether they helped us score higher on a chemistry exam or just got us through a difficult time at home. ... Since lowering class sizes is extremely popular, it would take a major public reeducation effort to convince Americans that larger classes are better classes.
(Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan—as if he needs it—though I’m not sure he accurately represents Goldstein’s point.)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.