Support Inclusion of a Separate Class Size Reduction Programing the ESEA Reauthorization
Studies show that smaller class size provides lasting benefits for students, especially for minority and low-income students and students with exceptional needs:
Studies of the Tennessee STAR class size reduction program found that students in small classes outperformed their peers in math and reading tests at the end of kindergarten, with gains persisting through third grade; students in smaller classes behaved better than students in larger classes, with differences persisting into fourth grade; and the positive impact of small class sizes was the greatest among Black and lower-income students.
Studies of Wisconsin's SAGE class size reduction program, targeted at low-income schools, found gains in test scores among students attending smaller classes comparable to the gains achieved in the STAR program.
A Rand Corporation report found that students in states with the smallest class sizes in early grades scored higher on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than students in states with larger classes, taking income level into account.
While a number of states have enacted their own class size reduction programs, many have cut these efforts back in the face of declining state revenues.
In fiscal years 1999-2001, Congress appropriated $4.1 billion to help states and school districts reduce class sizes. More than 37,000 new teachers were hired as a result. However, in FY 2002, Congress and the Administration ended the program.
Representative Wu (D-OR) has introduced legislation (H.R. 2668) that would authorize $2 billion per year for grants to states and school districts to carry out effective approaches to reducing class size, with particular consideration given to early elementary grades.
The classroom is the nexus of student learning. Smaller classes allow for more individualized attention for students.
Reducing class sizes has a positive impact on maximizing student learning and closing achievement gaps. Simply stated -- when qualified teachers teach smaller classes in modern schools, students learn more.
Teachers with small classes can spend time and energy helping each child succeed.
Smaller classes also enhance safety, discipline, and order in the classroom.