A new review of class size research from the National Education Policy Center in the USA finds that there is strong evidence that class size reduction helps raise student achievement.
The report - Does Class Size Matter? - written by Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist and education policy professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, takes on political and academic critics who have been pushing the line that lowering class sizes will do little to improve educational outcomes.
The report confirms that class size does matter: "Research supports the common-sense notion that children learn more and teachers are more effective in smaller classes."
Schanzenbach explains that: "Class size is an important determinant of a variety of student outcomes ranging from test scores to broader life outcomes. Smaller classes are particularly effective at raising achievement levels of low-income and minority children."
The report concludes:
"Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall."
[Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Does Class Size Matter?, National Education Policy Center, Feb 2014]
Post script: Mac.Robertson Girls' High School topped the list in the VCE school league tables published late last year. Its median subject study score of 38 was matched only by Fintona Girls' School in Balwyn.
The principal of Fintona stated that one of the key factors in its good performance was its policy of keeping "class sizes small with an average of 17 throughout all year levels."
[Marshall K et al, Mac.Rob holds its place at top of table, The Age