Classsize determines attention level individual students receive in anacademic setting. This implies that students in classes with severalstudents receive less personal assistance from the teacher comparedto individuals in classes with few learners. Researchers assert thatclass size is significant in determining the quality of educationindividual students receive. However, the school size, quality ofteaching and parent involvement extent are other critical factorstowards achieving quality education. Since the 2008-2010 economicrecession, class sizes in the United States has significantlyincreased. In fact, 58,000 teachers were laid off in 2010 despite a$26 billion dollar allocation the federal government set aside forpaying the teachers. The effect of laying off teachers has resultedinto increased classroom sizes (Delaney, 2010). As teaching staffbudget continues to weigh on school districts and schools,researchers have launched an investigation to determine whetherschool districts with big class sizes can maintain quality academicstandards. This research hypothesizes that class size alone is notadequate to achieve quality education.
Isthe class size the sole factor to consider when creating a plan forimproving the quality of education?
Vanderwolf(1996) analyzes the causes of large class sizes. He attributes theincessantly swelling classrooms to the School Districts and Stategovernments’ decision to hire fewer teachers as a result ofeconomic strains. The researcher asserts that it is easy to concludethat smaller classes do assist in achieving better grades becausethere exists a large body of evidence that suggests that.Nevertheless, he challenges the findings because there are also bigclasses that manage to perform excellently. He concludes that thatsmall classes ranging between 15 and 20 students are effectivebecause teachers can dedicate higher attention to individualstudents, but higher attention is not adequate on its own to achievehigher scores. The research is reliable because it is published by asociety responsible for determining the quality of education(Vanderwolf, 1996).
GreatSchools (2014) study evaluates additional factors that determine thequality of educational. The author asserts that small classroom sizeis a contributing factor towards achieving quality education, buteven teachers and students in big classes can achieve outstandingperformance if teachers provide high-quality education. Theperformance of small classes can drastically reduce if teachers areinexperienced or they used unsuitable pedagogy approaches. Parentinvolvement, the size of the institution and school leadershipefficiency are other factors that determine students’ performanceother than class sizes. Additional issues the research evaluatesinclude appropriate class sizes and teacher-student ration. The studyalso evaluates whether reducing class sizes in the early years hasassisted to improve the education quality. Finally, the analysis alsoevaluates the outcome of the government’s intensified effort toreduce classroom sizes (Great Schools, 2014).
Schanzenbach(2014) is a meta-analysis of various studies conducted in differentstates and using different populations and then uses the outcomes toprovide recommendations that can assist in improving education in theUnited States. First, the research recommends that small class sizesperform better than big classes. Policies influence class sizes, andincreasing class sizes is detrimental to students’ performance.Second, empirical evidence proposes that increasing class size harmschildren’s performance on the short term, as well as affects theirhuman capital output in the future. This implies that the money thefederal government and school districts are saving today throughincreasing school sizes will cause high educational and social costsin the future. Third, small classes are more effective for theminority and low-income children that may require higher directassistance from the teacher to achieve better results. Lastly, theauthor compares the cost efficiency of increasing class sizes atpresent and the economic productivity in the future. He concludesthat the money saved through compromising the quality of educationwill affect the American economy negatively in the future. Finally,the author proposes a cost-effective policy that schools can adoptinstead on increasing class sizes indefinitely (Vanderwolf, 1996).
NationalSchool Boards Association (2014) provides qualitative evidenceregarding improving students’ performance through decreasing classsizes. Researchers claim that the premise of improving studentperformance seems credible since the educators can coax few studentsto better performance compared to big classes. Although the studyindicates that students’ performance improves after a class fallsbelow twenty students, the level of parent participation and race ofstudents have a substantial role of determining of influencingstudents’ performance. Using diverse research findings, theresearchers investigate factors that influence students’ gainacademically and the effect of class sizes on minority students. Theconclusions are reliable since the researchers have used empiricalstudies in drawing conclusions as determined by students’performance (National School Boards Association, 2014).
Forthis study, I will apply meta-analysis research approach. Themethodology is one of the major statistical methods used in combiningand contrasting results acquired from diverse studies with theintention of deducing results discrepancy, identifying study resultspatterns and other fascinating relationships. For example,meta-analysis facilitates comparison of the empirical studiesconducted by independent researchers. The study’s dependentvariable is the number of students while performance is the fixedvariable. I will be interested in determining the average outcomeamong researchers concerning the relationship of class size andacademic performance.
Thesignificance of meta-analysis is that it enables researchers tocompare the results acquired from many studies, which in turnincreases statistical power compared to study results derived fromone analysis (National School Boards Association, 2014).
Toenhance reliability of the final statistical figure, I will ensure touse either peer-reviewed or empirical-based study. In addition, Iwill select studies based on given objectives. For instance, I willchoose studies conducted between 2008 and 2013. Besides, eligiblestudies require incorporating diverse variables. For example, I willcompare the performance results acquired from classes composed ofminority students, Caucasians, children with slow learning problemand research from schools that had reported high teacher-parentassociation among other factors (National School Boards Association,2014).
Themain challenge, when conducting the meta-analysis, would be makingcritical decisions that will significantly affect my results. Forexample, I will require to make critical decisions concerning themethods of analyzing data, objective criteria, compensatingpublication bias and identifying incomplete data. This researchmethodology is an essential part of a systematic review. For example,the technique will be effective for investigating the frequentoutcome results get after investigating the effect of classroomsizes. In summary, meta-analysis involves integrating evidence whileomitting other methods of “evidence” and “research” synthesissuch as merging information acquired from qualitative studies(Vanderwolf, 1996).
Themain data collection procedure for this research would be analyzingfocus group data. The study groups are students in American schoolsplaced in different classroom environments with the objective ofdetermining factors that may influence students’ performance. Toenhance data validity, I will ascertain to use only peer-reviewed andempirical based evidence research.
Oneof the data analysis method used in determining the classroom sizesincluded the student-teacher ratio. The ratio is significant as ithelps in classifying class sizes into small and big sizes. Thesmallest classes contained student-teacher ratio of 13:1 while thebiggest study groups had 55:1 ratio.
Afterevaluating many studies conducted in different locations and byindependent researchers, it emerged out that students in small classsizes often have the capacity for achieving high performance.Teachers prefer small classes because they can allocate moreindividual attention to weaker students. Second, managing unrulystudents is easy in small classes containing thirteen to twentystudents. On the contrary, a teacher can effectively maintain law andorder in his or her class if it is small. Third, the resources perstudents increase significantly. Resources include both monetaryshare and books assigned to given schools. Fewer students get abigger share because state and federal governments often allocateequal money to different schools. Lastly, students in large classestend to have diversified academic achievement that can be attributedfrom numerous years of the academic mismanagement. This implies thata grade seven teacher’s class may have bright students with Gradeeleven knowledge while others are still struggling with grade threecontent.
Smallclasses’ performance trends
Otherinteresting trends that research on small classes discovered includea trend of constantly increasing performance as the class sizesreduce. First, studies indicated that student gains attributed tosmall classes became evident once classroom population decreased tounder twenty students. Second, the highest gains attributed tosmaller classes were mostly observed in early s (Vanderwolf, 1996).Third, children with a background of originally disadvantaged groupssuch as immigrants and minorities achieved the highest gains afterclass size reduction. Fourth, class size reduction gains are alsocommon among upper-grade students (National School BoardsAssociation, 2014). However, pressure keeps increasing on individualstudents to perform better when they reach high school. Such studentsare less likely to remain in school, as well as continue performingwell. Finally, the American Journal of Public Health published anarticle, which claimed that lowering class sizes could be moresuccessful than many medical interventions and public healthprocedures. The author of the article intended to insinuate thatstudents from small classes have higher chances of graduating at highschool level. Furthermore, high school graduates earn higher incomesand live a relatively better lifestyle compared to school dropouts(Great Schools, 2014).
Schanzenbach(2014) asserts that class size does influence student outcome.However, he associates the main determinant of a class size to aschool district, state, and federal government’s policies as themain determinant of existing school sizes. The author concludes thatif everything else remained constant, increasing class size would inturn harm the students’ performance. This implies that schools canstill increase their classroom sizes while still maintainingexcellent performance if they pass the concerned stakeholders endorsereformatory policies (Schanzenbach, 2014). For instance, schools thatare intending to maintain big class sizes should enroll theirteachers in special classes that would in turn perfect their skillsof training numerous students at a go. Second, such schools can alsoimplement a policy that would require parents to get more involved intheir children’s education. Strong-parent child involvement isvaluable towards improving a child’s performance since each partycan access the resources they require recording excellentperformance. In other cases, the school administration can increasethe size of the school such that a school can still have big classsizes, but students are distributed in many classes where a teachercan attend to each group depending on their individual needs(Vanderwolf, 1996).
Sincethe 2008-2009 economic depression, several school districts andstates resolved to increase classroom sizes as they could not affordto continue paying several teachers in a bad economy. For example,58,000 teachers were laid off in 2010 despite the federal governmentdisbursing $26 billion to different school districts for payingteachers. However, Schanzenbach (2014) claims that the micromanagingtechnique will do more harm than good to the American economy. Thisis because it will significantly reduce the performance of childrenin their test scores immediately, as well as their capacity to formcapital in the future. Education performance determines the college,course and even an individual’s income in the future. As a result,the savings the government will achieve through increasing classroomsize will cause serious economic consequences as graduates will lackthe innovation and skills required for high-income generation(Schanzenbach, 2014).
Inaddition, the studies discovered that the class-size reduction offershigher positive returns for minority and low-income children. Thegroups require higher educator attention thereby, increasingclassroom sizes implies that teachers would not be in a position toaddress their academic requirements effectively. Educationists andeconomists warn that the government and other major policymakers inthe education sector should provide adequate capital to maintainclassroom sizes of about twenty students. In fact, the Great Schools(2014) asserts that California has already endorsed a policyrecommending that classroom sizes should not exceed twenty students.The policy will have many challenges on the short-term as the staterequires hiring extra teachers for teaching in the extra classes(Schanzenbach, 2014).
Relevanceof the study
Thisstudy was relevant as it sought to establish whether the state andschool districts can effectively cover up for the economic downturnthrough reducing the funds allocated to the education sector. Since2009, many states have been looking for effective strategies ofreducing their recurrent expenses. Some laid-off workers, includingteachers to reduce the salary packages. Unfortunately, increasingclassroom sizes to reduce the quality of education of further as itcannot effectively cover-up for the school districts that are alreadyunderfunded.
Second,the study provides essential facts that policymakers in the educationsector require in order to make informed decisions. For example, somedistricts had suggested hiring volunteers and interns in filling thestaffing gap. However, researchers warn policymakers against usingshortcuts of reducing expenses in a school such as making classroomsizes bigger.
Accordingto this study, classroom size is not the sole factor that educatorsshould consider when making policy for enhancing education standards.Although reducing class sizes can enhance the quality of education,additional factors such as parent-teacher association, quality ofteaching and school administration approach are other criticalfactors for achieving a desirable grade. Eliminating supplementaryeducational facilities such as music rooms, child care centers, gymsand special education rooms only serves to decrease the overallquality of education.
Delaney,A. (2010, October 8). States Lay Off 58,000 Teachers In SeptemberDespite $26 Billion Aid Package. HuffPost.Retrieved on November 28,2014http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/08/states-lay-off-58000-teac_n_755965.html
GreatSchools (2014). How important is class size? GreatSchools Organization.Retrieved on November 28, 2014 fromhttp://www.greatschools.org/find-a-school/defining-your-ideal/174-class-size.gs?page=all
Schanzenbach,D.W. (2014). Doesclass size matter?Boulder, CO: National Education Policy
NationalEducation Policy Center. Retrieved on November 28, 2014 fromhttp://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb_-_class_size.pdf
NationalSchool Boards Association, (2014). Classsize and student achievement: Research review.Center for Public Education. Retrieved on November 28, 2014 fromhttp://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Class-size-and-student-achievement-At-a-glance/Class-size-and-student-achievement-Research-review.html
Vanderwolf,C.H. (1996). Class Size and Quality of Education. Organization forQuality Education. Retrieved on November 28, 2014 fromhttp://www.societyforqualityeducation.org/newsletter/archives/quality.pdf