Class Size and Its Effect on Academic Achievement Maria O’Regan ED 7201 Professor O’Connor-Petruso Fall 2011 Table of Contents AbstractX Introduction3 • Statement of the Problem4 • Review of Related Literature5-9 • Statement of the Hypothesis10 MethodX • ParticipantsX • InstrumentsX • Experimental DesignX • ProcedureX ResultsX DiscussionX ImplicationsX References11-13 AppendixX Introduction The population of students in one classroom with one teacher is at an all time high.
With overcrowded classrooms and only one teacher in the room, the ability for a teacher to individually help each student or a percentage of the class is difficult (Bassett, Blatchford, Goldstein, & Martin, 2003). Children in today’s classroom are not getting the necessary attention they need in order to progress and advance in their education. It has been said that, “Class size is one of the variables in American K-12 education that is thought to influence student learning” (Borland, Howsen, & Trawick, 2005). However if class sizes are increasing rapidly how can a students learning be positively influenced?
This question is the reason why it has been said that students in smaller class sizes 13-17 have a greater chance of academic achievement. (Finn & Achilles, 2003). Statement of the Problem With overcrowding becoming very common in today’s classrooms, students are not receiving the necessary attention in order to succeed in their academics. In PS X, two Pre-Kindergarten classes have different class sizes as well as different student to teacher ratio. The two classes have the same curriculum and same materials in order for the teacher(s) to conduct the exact same lessons.
However, with different student to teacher ratios in the two classes the students in the smaller class are benefiting from the teacher to student ratio of 1:7 as opposed to the larger class of 2:21. When the students are tested through the same math and language arts test, the students in the smaller class will possibly have benefited more from the individual attention they were receiving due to small class size. Review of Related Literature With class size rapidly growing, many may wonder are students getting the necessary attention they need from the teacher, while gaining knowledge to further their education.
The topic of increasing class size has caused for much research to see if there is any effect in having smaller class sizes. Reducing class size to increase academic achievement is a policy option currently of great interest. (Hedges, Konstantopoulos, & Nye, 2001) Class-size reduction (CSR) has become a popular and controversial topic among a lot of different people. (Gamoran & Milesi, 2006). Everyone from researchers, teachers’ unions, policymakers, and politicians have debated the benefits and costs of reducing class size while hoping to show ositive effects on student achievement (Gamoran & Milesi, 2006). The top and largest designed experiment in the study class size is Tennessee’s Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio), (Krueger, 2003). According to the Harvard statistician Frederick Mosteller (1995), Project STAR “is one of the most important educational investigations ever carried out and illustrates the kind and magnitude of research needed in the field of education to strengthen schools. ” STAR research has been said to be one of the few large-scale randomized experiments in education as well as being effective.
Project STAR has been given significant creditability and is said to be “one of the great experiments in education in U. S. history” (Mosteller, Light, & Sachs, 1996). With my action research project, I am conducting math and language arts exams for Pre-kindergarten students and STAR research has proved find that “class size has a significant effect on test scores: reducing class size from 22 to 15 in the early primary grades seems to increase both math and reading test scores by about 0. 2 standard deviations” (Krueger, 2003).
STAR results revealed that students in small classes increased their reading and mathematics achievement by 0. 15-0. 27 SD, compared to their peers in regular classes (Finn & Achilles, 1999). Further research has shown the findings reveal that class size has a (small) impact on the two basic literacy skills, reading and spelling (Ecalle, Magnan, & Gibert, 2006). These statistics as well as my intervention and examination of the students in PSX will provide further explanation into why students in smaller class tend to achieve positive academics.
With studies being conducted on smaller class sizes being effective to a student’s academic achievement, the question asked it how or why are smaller classes better? STAR as well as other researchers have explained that students in smaller class sizes receive more individual attention from the teacher, the teacher gets to know their students’ better and on a more personal level which helps a teacher plan and accommodate more of a variety of students learning needs as opposed to a large classroom room where a teacher may struggle to address each students concerns and need. Arias &Walker, 2004) In smaller classes, there are less disruptions with fewer students as opposed to there being more distractions with more kids. Less disruptions comes from the teacher being able to focus better on the class as a whole, in groups and individually (Sohn, 2010). A teacher with fewer students can communicate better and faster to any child who may be struggling where as in a big class with one teacher this takes a lot more time to help everyone (Batchford, Baines, Kutnick & Martin, 2001). Smaller classes are more appealing and work better and coincide with the No Child Left Behind Act.
In today’s society, education is major part of a child’s life and what helps them pave a road to succeeding in life as well as being proud of themselves for setting and accomplishing goals. Children who receive an education in smaller classes at a young age are said to benefit more in later grades (Chung & Konstantopoulos, 2009). When students receive a good solid foundation at a young age, they are paving the way in order to continue learning and making connections as they learn as well as to continue to enjoy learning as they mature.
Smaller groups are more unified in their daily tasks and actions and allow for learning to be fun and interesting (Funkhouser, 2009). In smaller classes, students experience more and become more involved in learning activities, which allows for more participation and interest and less disruptive behavior. (Finn & Achillles, 2003). Edward Lazear argues that students who attend a smaller class learn more because they experience fewer student disruptions during class time, on average (Krueger & Hanushek, 2000).
With less disruptions and more individualization, students in smaller groups feel more of a sense of belonging. (Achilles, Finn, & Pannozoo, 2003). Small classes rank near the top of the list for student improvement (Achilles, Finn, & Pannozoo, 2003). “But small classes are not a quick fix, however, the research tells us that for maximum effect, small classes should meet these conditions: First,early intervention is important. Start in kindergarten or first grade. Second,the number of students in a class should range from 13 to 17.
Third,if resources are scarce, target implementation by focusing on at-risk students. Fourth,maintain intensity by ensuring that students experience small classes every day, all day. Fifth,small classes should last at least two years for initial ben- efits and three to four years for longest-lasting benefits after the small classes are over. ” (Achilles & Finn, 2003). Although having smaller class sizes is something that seems to be a major benefit in many different ways some research shows how smaller classes cannot be beneficial to the student.
With smaller classes come less kids which in turn allows for less social interaction. Theorist Vygotsky has argued that increased social interaction is directly related to increased cognitive development (McLeod,2007). Coinciding with Vygostsky’s theory, students in larger classes have better socializing abilities as opposed to students in smaller classes who are said to have “poor interactive dynamics” (Pedder, 2006). So does this show that decreased social interaction can lead to decreased cognitive development.
Many say that a child needs to be able to communicate and be able to stand up for themselves in any setting so is a larger class size preparing children more for the years of education and work that lay ahead (Murdoch & Guy, 2002). Studies arguing that smaller class size is not necessary beneficial have said that “further research is needed to help us develop much better understanding of the kinds of strategies and knowledge teachers can adapt for effectively promoting high quality learning opportunities for all pupils in different contexts of class size variation” (Pedder, 2006).
In order to remain with larger class sizes, a solution that has been used is incorporating teacher’s aides in the classroom. A lot of research has been conducted in regards to teacher’s aides and studies have shown that aide in the classroom has no positive impact on student achievement or behavior (Achilles & Finn, 2003). With an additional authoritative figure in the classroom it sometimes creates confusion for the students as to who to listen to especially if the co-teachers are not on the same page with the many aspects of classroom management (Walter-Thomas,1997).
Although co-teachers/teachers aides are provided to help teachers for many teachers, it has been said to be an inconvenience or waste of money for their classroom as the teacher is a my way or no way of running a classroom (Achilles & Finn, 2003). This type of attitude can have a negative effect on teaching techniques as well as negative effects on the students comprehending and learning techniques. In today’s society, many children have different ways of learning and comprehending information.
It is the job of teachers to get to know their students and understand these needs in order to plan their lessons and help the student succeed. Unfortunately, with large class sizes teachers do not always have this opportunity which is why with smaller classes students have a better chance of receiving the attention they deserve and need especially at a young age when they are first beginning school and learning the basics of education.
Statement of Hypothesis(ses) HR 1: To teach one unit on math content and one unit on language arts by content one teacher to seven Pre-Kindergarten students from PS X in Brooklyn, NY over a six week period, three times a week for 45 minute sessions, will increase their overall content knowledge in math and language arts as measured by a math and language arts test.
HR2: To teach one unit on math content and one unit on language arts content by two teachers to twenty-one Pre-Kindergarten students from PS X in Brooklyn, NY over a six week period, three times a week for 45 minute sessions, will decrease their overall content knowledge in math and language arts as measured by a math and language arts test. References Achilles, C. , & Finn, J. D. (1999) Tennessee’s class size study: findings, implications, misconceptions, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 21(2), 97–109. Achilles, C. & Finn, J. D. (2003). Class Size: Counting Students Can Count. American Education Research Asssociation, 1-4.
Retrieved from www. aera. net/uploadedFiles/Journals_and… Points/RP_Fall03. pdf Arias, J. J. & Walker, D. (2004). Additional Evidence on the Relationship between Class Size and Student Performance. The Journal of Economic Education (35)4, 311-29. Retrieved from http://vnweb. hwwilsonweb. com. ez-proxy. brooklyn. cuny. edu:2048/hww/results/getResults. jhtml? _DARGS=/hww/results/results_common. jhtml. 35 Baines, E. , Batchford, P. , Kutnick, P. , & Martin, C. (2001). Classroom contexts: Connections between class size and within class grouping. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71(2), 283. Retrieved from http://search. bscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true&db=ehh&AN=7258387&site=ehost-live Bassett, P. , Blatchford, P. , Goldstein, H. , & Martin, C. (2003). Are class size differences related to pupils’ educational progress and classroom processes? findings from the institute of education class size study of children aged 5-7 years. British Educational Research Journal, 29(5), 709. Retrieved from http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true&db=ehh&AN=11184894&site=ehost-live Borland, M. V. , Howsen, R. M. , & Trawick, M. W. (2005). An investigation of the effect of class size on student academic achievement.
Education Economics, 13(1), 73-83. doi:10. 1080/0964529042000325216 Chung, V. , & Konstantopoulos, S. (2009). What are the long-term effects of small classes on the achievement gap? evidence from the lasting benefits study. American Journal of Education, 116(1), 125-154. Retrieved from http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true&db=ehh&AN=45073947&site=ehost-live Ecalle, J. , Magnan, A. , & Gibert, F. (2006). Class size effects on literacy skills and literacy interest in first grade: A large-scale investigation. Journal Of School Psychology, 44(3), 191-209. doi:10. 1016/j. jsp. 2006. 03. 002 Finn, J. D. , Gerber, S.
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