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Class Size

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Essay title: Class Size

In 1998, President Clinton sparked a debate when he "proposed the first national effort to reduce class size in the early grades." People who supported this proposal argued that the result of smaller classes (especially in the younger grades) would be more effective teaching and learning and higher student achievement. Critics say reducing class size is costly and that decreasing class size does not mean that teacher effectiveness will improve, and other less expensive alternatives could be used that might achieve the same educational goals. Today, this debate continues. To say every district should reduce class sizes is wrong. Each district is different and has different needs, but one goal all districts share is to maximize teaching and learning in their schools. If a district believes reducing class size is the best way to achieve this goal, and they have the money, the facilities, and the teachers, reducing class size should be done, but if a district believes the money that would be spent on reducing class size could be better spent on alternatives to achieve this goal, reducing class size should not be done.

Critics mainly oppose reducing class size because of the shortage of buildings and quality teachers and the conflicting research that has been done. Decreasing class size means more classrooms need to be built, and more teachers need to be hired. In some districts, this could be a problem because they have a problem hiring quality teachers as it is, and they might not have the money to hire more teachers and build more classrooms to support smaller classes. Research on smaller class sizes produces contrasting results. University of Rochester economist Eric Hanushkek examined 277 separate studies on class size, and he found that only 15% of the studies suggested there is a "statistically significant" improvement in achievement, 72% found no effect at all, and 13% found that reducing class size had a negative effect on achievement. With such different results among research, districts must evaluate whether or not the investment to reduce class size will be worth it and positively affect student learning.

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