1 minute read

Class Size

Many studies have linked smaller class sizes in schools to increased student achievement, yet this finding remains controversial. Other researchers have found no such link, or have noted small and largely meaningless effects. When increases in achievement are found, however, they tend to be centered on the early primary grades and students who are disabled or high-risk. In one example, Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) in Tennessee, students were randomly assigned to either large or small classes during the early primary grades. It was found that students from smaller classes reported higher achievement, which persisted through seventh grade. Increased achievement is attributed to the teacher's increased ability to respond to students, fewer classroom discipline problems, and reduced likelihood of teacher burnout. Teachers universally report their belief that they teach more effectively and with less frustration in smaller classrooms, although sometimes this is not supported by independent observations. It appears that some training for teachers in how to make the most of smaller class sizes is beneficial.


Achilles, Charles. "Students Achieve More in Smaller Classes." Educational Leadership 53, no. 5 (1996):76-77.

Bennett, Neville. "Annotations: Class Size and the Quality of Educational Outcomes." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 39, no. 6 (1998):797-804.

Susan L. O' Donnell

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 2