Optimal Class Size


Pursuant to a discussion from the CIP meeting May 31, here are some articles
on optimal class size, provided by Barbara Ferry.


Full text articles:

The Relationship between Elementary School Size and Student Achievement

School Size as a Factor in Elementary School Achievement

The Influence of District Size, School Size and Socioeconomic Status on Student Achievement in Washington: A replication study using hierarchical linear modeling

School Size: Is Smaller Better?

Are Small Schools Better? School Size Considerations for Safety and Learning

The Relationship between Elementary School Size and Student Achievement



The articles below are only available as abstracts unless we order the

ERIC #: ED292178 Authors: Daresh, John C.; Journal Citation: N/A Pages: 14
Abstract: To help policymakers plan for higher quality education despite
increased productivity demands and decreased financial support, this paper
briefly reviews trends and issues related to three important areas: school
size, grade level organization, and school management practices. Research
has yet to discover the perfect school size. Arguments are presented for
large schools' ability to provide instructional, extracurricular, and
athletic diversity and for small schools' concentration on the basics and
the individual student. Various grade level groupings are discussed: middle
schools, elementary schools divided into primary (grades 1-3) and higher
elementary (grades 4 and 5), and high schools divided into separated units
for grades 9-10 and grades 11-12. The various groupings work best if all
students remain together as they move from one building to another--to avoid
disruption or massive readjustments every two or three years. High school
students can be limited in course selections if the separated high school
buildings are not on the same campus. Emerging school management trends are
centered in two directions: (1) a shift toward instructional leadership
responsibility of administrators and (2) an expectation of increased
administrator accountability. Another promising development is schools'
increasing reliance on shared decision-making by administrative management
teams. Complex school issues will need hard work, not ready-made solutions.
Included are 11 references. (MLH)

 Title: Primary School Size and Pupil Attitudes: Small Is Happy? Journal
Citation: v20 n2 p100-04 1992 Pages: N/A Abstract: Summarizes findings of a
study exploring student attitudes to schools of different size. A semantic
differentiate scale of attitude toward school was completed by 4,746
(British) pupils from 192 primary or junior schools. Those attending schools
of 60 or fewer showed more positive attitudes than those attending larger
schools. (45 references) (MLH)

ERIC #: ED467672 Authors: Bulach, Cletus R.; Williams, Ronnie; Journal
Citation: N/A Pages: 18 Abstract: This research investigated the impact of
school setting and size on the culture and climate of a school. Twenty-five
schools and 1,163 teachers were involved in the study. There was a
significant negative correlation between school size and the school's
culture and climate. Other findings were that elementary schools had more
positive climates than middle and high schools, and urban schools had less
positive climates than rural and suburban. (Contains 14 references and six
tables of ANOVA and descriptive statistics. An appendix lists definitions of
variables that measure school culture and school climate.) (Author/WFA)

ERIC #: EJ505007 Authors: Lamdin, Douglas J.; Journal Citation: v3 n1
p33-42 Apr 1995 Pages: N/A Abstract: Using the production-function approach
and data from Baltimore (Maryland) public elementary schools, a study shows
that school size minimally affects student performance on standardized
achievement tests. Regression analysis shows the importance of students'
socioeconomic status and negative effects of school input measures such as
teacher/pupil ratio and per-pupil expenditure. (22 references) (MLH)

ERIC #: EJ535623 Authors: Stevenson, Kenneth R.; Journal Citation: v33 n4
p10-14 1996 Pages: N/A Abstract: For the past 10 years the South Carolina
Department of Education annually has rewarded the top 20% of its public
elementary schools. Identifies a positive relationship between larger
schools and sustained academic achievement, although the impact of size was
relatively small. Smaller schools tended to be serving students in lower
socioeconomic categories. (MLF)

Title: School Size in Chicago Elementary Schools: Effects on Teachers'
Attitudes and Students' Achievement. Journal Citation: v37 n1 p3-31 Spr 2000
Pages: N/A Abstract: Explored whether teachers and students were influenced
by the size of the inner-city school to which they belonged.
Data from almost 5,000 teachers and 23,000 sixth and eighth graders in
Chicago show more positive attitudes of teachers in small schools and better
learning for students. Suggests school size influences achievement through
effects on teachers. (SLD)