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skoolboy Throws Down the Class Size Gauntlet

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Long-time followers of skoolboy (hi, Mom!) know that his first posts on eduwonkette’s blog were about class size. I argued for championing class size reduction as the right thing to do for children and for teachers—an argument grounded in the moral content of public schooling more so than in the technical consequences of class size reduction for standardized test scores.

Over the past year, I’ve observed a number of trends in the operation of big-city school districts. I’ll use New York City as my key example, because it’s my hometown, but the issues are sufficiently general to warrant posting here.

First, large districts are increasingly trying out innovative policies and practices for which there is little or no pre-existing research support. In New York City, the issuing of school report cards and conduct of school quality reviews are high-stakes evaluative practices for which there’s no prior evidence showing beneficial outcomes. In Washington, DC and New York City, school officials are offering incentives in the form of cash and cellphones to students in exchange for meeting academic performance targets. Some of these innovations have evaluations built into their design, whereas others do not.

Second, the arguments in support of these innovations often rely on claims that other innovations have not been successful. The best example is the juxtaposition of teacher quality and class size reduction. All kinds of policies regarding teachers—value-added assessment, merit pay, new recruitment strategies—are being justified on the grounds that teacher quality has much larger consequences for student achievement (read: test scores) than other policy choices, such as class size reduction.

Third, a lot of the claims about these effects take the form of “Research shows…”, which eduwonkette has derided as glib and poorly documented. There are, of course, important studies of both teacher quality effects and class size effects on student outcomes, but different studies yield different estimates of the magnitude of these effects. In part, this is because the impact of a particular innovative policy or practice is contingent on how the policy or practice is implemented and the features of the local organizational and institutional context for the new intervention. (We might expect, for example, that class size reduction would have different effects in classrooms with novice teachers than in classrooms with experienced teachers, or in classes that differ in the amount of prior student misbehavior.)

So when a policymaker confidently says that we should prefer innovations designed to influence teacher quality rather than class size reduction in a particular local setting—say, New York City—what’s the evidence for such a claim? Specifically, what does research tell us about the consequences of a well-designed class size reduction intervention in New York City?

The answer is, we don’t know—because there has never been a carefully-controlled study of class size reduction in New York City.

So at this point, skoolboy throws down the gauntlet: If we’re serious about data-driven decision-making, we should put our money where our mouth is, and demonstrate the relative effectiveness of class-size reduction and other policy initiatives. I call on the New York City Department of Education to carry out a well-designed study—ideally, a randomized experiment—of class size reduction in New York City public schools. View it as a small-scale pilot, as is true for some of the other initiatives, such as the student incentive plans, and look for some private funding (if it’s not feasible to draw on the operating budget). It will not be hard to pull together some of the leading researchers on class size to inform the design (and it wouldn’t kill anybody to have a couple of knowledgeable parents and teachers at the table too.) There's nearly a full year to get this off the ground for the start of the 2009-10 school year.

skoolboy is willing to live with the findings of a well-designed and well-implemented study of class size reduction in New York City, whether they support or refute claims about the efficacy of class size reduction. What I cannot support are claims that “research shows” that teacher quality is more important than class size reduction for student outcomes in New York City—or any other local education setting—in the absence of research that actually does show this.

30 Comments

I'm not very familiar with the research on class-size reduction. However, from my personal experience as a teacher in various educational settings, my take on class size is as follows:

If the students are well-behaved and motivated, large class sizes are not much of a problem. When I taught in CA, I was happy teaching a class of 30+ honors students - because they were all on-task and well-behaved, and the classroom was spacious.

However, there are many instances where large classes will not work. First, if the students are NOT self-motivated and well-behaved (like in many inner city schools). Second, if the class requires a lot of grading (like English). Third, if the classroom is small, and desks are crowded or missing. When I taught English, I had one class of about 35 students - they were crammed in like sardines. Made it easier to cheat, for one thing.

In conclusion: With spacious classrooms and well-behaved students, I have no problem w/ classes of 30 kids for subjects other than English (or similar grading-intensive subjects). However, with all other situations, smaller classes are necessary to avoid chaos and allow teachers to have a manageable workload.

Why do you have to conduct research when people who have been there tell you what the results will be?

With behaved, focused students in classrooms with sufficient space, who cares what the class size is...10, 30, 200...what's the difference?

Toss in a few idiots intent on disruption and you will get nowhere even if the class size is 10. Every minute spent tending to the idiots is a minute of lost learning for the others.

The key is not class size...it's weeding out the disrupters. Go into any high school or grade school and ask the teachers. What would they rather have...a class of 50 well behaved kids intent on learning or a class of 10 with two chronic disrupters?

Do you folks realize that while all this "research" is going on, years are being taken away from children who earnestly seek education but are being impeded by problems that require no research to solve?

Studies, research, seminars, forums, meetings, endless debating and arguing....meanwhile kids rot away in failing schools. Sterile intellectual exercises and journal publications are no substitute for solving problems that seasoned teachers know the answers to right now.

Skoolboy,
I'm glad to see you revisit the class size issue but I'm afraid your gauntlet will lie in the gutter untouched by the hands of a Tweed official.

The NYC DOE had many opportunities over the last 6 years to do a study of class size. For instance, instead of closing so many large schools, why didn't they try to reduce class size in one or two schools as a control and compare the impact to other schools?

The answer is class size reduction is not part of the fabric of the ed reform movement. It is much easier - and cheaper - to blame ed failures on lack of quality teaching.

When there's a need for more police, firemen, soldiers, doctors - is the quality issue raised? We know that "qualifications" in the medical field are never related to performance and hospitals in need scrounge for doctors where they can get them as long as they are certified. In these fields people actually die if mistakes are made.

The quality teacher before class size issue is a red herring to support an ideological, not an educational solution, that accomplishes the political goals of privatizing many elements of the public schools while diminishing the impact teacher unions might have. (I say might because of the role the AFT/UFT plays in supporting so much of this ideology.)

I believe research is a necessary but not sufficient tool for increasing students' educational opportunities. Research results matter little to most people—except academics—if they are not used to inform policy and practice.

I find that many of the preservice teachers and practicing educators I work with question research as CodyPT's does in her/his response above. The knowledge acquired from teaching is a form of scholarship--one that is not as highly valued--but as all forms of research there are limitations to understanding ed. phenomenon based on one's experiences.

CodyPT's post makes it sound as if students are responsible for their own educational failure and/or success. What should happen to students who don't conform to school norms and expectations? And what role should teachers play in addressing the needs of these students who might be in the most need of a quality education? Or going back to the original post what is known about teacher-student relationships, etc. as a result of class size?

I agree with CodyPT that student behavior is the key to making large classes (or any classes) work. Regarding StukinMI's comments above, all teachers need to be able to control and manage their students in order to be able to teach effectively.

Good classroom management, in my experience, derives from a combination of several sources: the students' own characteristics (independent of a specific classroom), the teacher's experience and skills, the administration's support of the school rules and the teachers who enforce them, the teacher's ability to provide an appropriate curriculum to his or her students, and community and parental support of school rules.


Schoolboy,

Far be it from me to say, "I told you so." Seriously, we can joke among friends but the above comments are correct. Class size is one of those issues that can't be researched empirically without a qualitative discussion with the actual practioners.

There is a broader issue. Rarely should we attempt to understand something as complex as education by numbers alone, just as we should never try to evaluate teachers by numbers alone. But that's good news. It creates opportunities for discussion.

There will probably never be such a study, and for two reasons. One; Very few education "researchers" actually know how to design a scientifically valid experiment with controls and appropriate populations. Two: if such a study existed, how would an administration justfy increasing class sizes due to budget constraints, when it would fly in the face of proven student improvement?

Interesting mix of comments on the politics and technical aspects of research on class size reduction. I would not want a class size reduction experiment to ignore the experiences of teachers and students in the classroom. I wouldn't know how to make sense of the results of an experiment without a deep understanding of what actually happened from the standpoint of outside observers and the participants themselves. I also don't think that it's an extraordinary technical challenge to carry out a class size reduction experiment. Tennessee did it at the state level, and no less an authority than the late Fred Mosteller, former president of the American Statistical Association, called the STAR experiment "one of the most important educational investigations ever carried out." Increasingly, the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education is calling for carefully-conducted randomized experiments as a source of evidence on what works in education, and supporting both research and training programs for investigators to learn how to do experiments.

I would not want to rely solely on randomized experiments as evidence; nor would I want to rely solely on what teachers believe to be true, for a couple of reasons. First, we all have partial perspectives on how the world works, and these partial perspectives are structured by our personal circumstances. A teacher who has only taught Advanced Placement classes to well-off high school students may have a different understanding about the nature of classroom teaching and learning than a teacher who has only taught first-graders in a poverty-stricken inner-city school. Researchers are not omniscient, but they have the capacity to draw on multiple partial perspectives to develop a broader understanding of social and educational phenomena. Of course, this can be done poorly, and there's a lot of bad educational research out there that fails to do this in a thoughtful way. Some researchers only see what they are predisposed to see.

Second, there are too many myths out there that have been shown to be false for me to be comfortable relying on what "everybody knows" to be true. To cite but one example, prior to the 1966 Coleman report, everybody "knew" that the primary explanation for the low academic achievement of poor and minority students in U.S. schools was the lower quality of the schools they attended. It took this study--which, in spite of its flaws, continues to inform American education policy more than 40 years later--to debunk this myth.

I don't fault people, including teachers, for constructing myths. We make sense of the ambiguity and fragmentation of the modern world by creating narratives to explain what we see, and myths serve as one of many guides for how to behave. We can learn from myths, but we can also learn from the kind of evidence that thoughtful education research can generate.

skoolboy: Regarding your post: "A teacher who has only taught Advanced Placement classes to well-off high school students may have a different understanding about the nature of classroom teaching and learning than a teacher who has only taught first-graders in a poverty-stricken inner-city school."

While I understand that your comment may apply to some teachers, please note that not all teachers have limited experiences like the ones you outlined. I based my posts on my specific experience teaching in a wide variety of school settings over the period of several years. Unlike some teachers (for good or for ill) I did not teach in just one school or in just one district. I taught low-income students, high income students, and special ed students. I taught in public schools, private schools, and one military academy.

My comments were based on the distinctions I saw between the very different environments in which I taught. Not all teachers have the limited viewpoints you described above; please continue to keep teachers involved in your solutions.

Skoolboy,

The lack of quality research on the impact of class size reduction mirrors the lack of quality research on virtually every curricula that Scholastic et. al. are peddling to the DOE and other schools across the country. About which you posted and I responded last week.

With all respect to DC Attorney’s wide range of classroom experiences, his comments are right in line with your earlier post about idealism and teaching. The experiences of one person, however wise and well intended, are not the basis for extrapolation to a school district. See the Wikipedia entry for “confirmation bias” if you need more details.

I believe people like Doug Harris at Wisconsin have looked at the trade-offs between CSR and other interventions. IMHO Harris is correct; we face choices and an intervention has to be weighed not only for its benefits but also its costs. Wide-scale CSR in a city like New York could involve hiring on a large order; at $45k a year that’s not trivial, let alone the question of where you find the bodies. And then build the buildings to house all those kids.

Furthermore, it’s not a matter of one intervention or another being “right” for all kids; Some kids need more phonics, some benefit from a whole language approach, you know the drill.

On the quality front, Tom Kane wrote a paper that claimed the impact of teacher quality was significant. "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job" was a 2006 paper that the Brookings Institute published. Maybe not peer-reviewed? Anyway, if you've not seen it, perhaps worth a read.

Perhaps more importantly, EPI published a nice review of the Kruger v. Hanushek debate over the Tennessee STAR study that you can get off of Hanushek's website at Stanford. (or email me and I will send it to you). I found the most interesting part of that paper to be the comment in the introduction by Jennifer King Rice:

It is unfortunate that the subject of public education has become so polarized that policy debates, allegedly based on scholarly research, have become more contentious than the research itself seems to require. A careful reading of the papers that follow cannot fail to lead readers to the conclusion that there is substantial agreement between these antagonists.

It is perhaps best expressed by Dr. Hanushek when he states:



Surely class size reductions are beneficial in specific circumstances — for specific groups of students, subject matters, and teachers.... Second, 
class size reductions necessarily involve hiring more teachers, and teacher quality is much more important than class size in affecting student 
outcomes. Third, class size reduction is very expensive, and little or no consideration is given to alternative and more productive uses of those 
resources.

Similarly, in his paper, Dr. Krueger states,
The effect sizes found in the STAR experiment and much of the literature are greater for minority and disadvantaged students than for other students. Although the critical effect size differs across groups with different average earnings, economic considerations suggest that resources would be optimally allocated if they were targeted toward 
those who benefit the most from smaller classes.

As a parent who pays the taxes to fund the class size reduction I'm as skeptical as the next person about CSR becoming a full employment act for the UFT. At the same time I know that Tweed has its own agenda, and isn’t always interested in acknowledging the grains of truth that may be contained in its opponents’ claims.

As King Rice suggests, the truth probably lies in the middle. Yet none of the actors in the debate seem interested in finding that middle. Just scoring points against each other, once again leaving parents in the middle.

So hear, hear for real research, like the City appears to be undertaking with the ED Hirsch curriculum in ten schools starting this fall. Let’s stop shouting at each other, get some facts on the table and then have a real debate about the cost implications.

"As a parent who pays the taxes to fund the class size reduction I'm as skeptical as the next person about CSR becoming a full employment act for the UFT."

Do you have any skeptisism about the billions of tax payer money going to bail out fannie and freddie? Where is there a better place to 'waste" your money? What do people who spend $30,000 s year to go to elite private schools really get? Small class sizes.

It would be nice to examine the class sizes in highly academic countries (Japan, China, Korea, etc) vs. in the US.

And to also examine the class size when our grandparents went to school.

You will quickly find that arguing for smaller class sizes is a red herring.

Dale: It's a very tricky matter to make inferences based on different historical times and nations to what should be true here in the U.S. today.

In a paper published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis in 2001, Suet-ling Pong and I looked at eighth-grade class size and mathematics achievement in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Iceland, Singapore, and the United States. We found that the U.S. was the only country in our sample in which smaller classes were associated with higher achievement levels, once teacher, school and classroom characteristics were taken into account. But there are a number of caveats about even this evidence of how class size might matter in the U.S. First, this was eighth grade, and the best evidence we have on the achievement effects of smaller classes come from the early grades. Second, this was a cross-sectional study, and we were unable to control for all of the reasons why some classes are larger or smaller than others, some of which may influence achievement.

It's true that eighth-grade math classes are larger in countries with centralized education systems than in those with decentralized systems (such as the U.S.), and that math achievement is higher in centralized countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore. But schooling in these countries differs from that in the U.S. in many other ways than just class size, and thus it would be unwise to assert that class size has a lot to do with our relative performance in the international landscape.

I have found that class size really does not matter just as a few posters have commented IF the class is well behaved. Now, as far a subject area being taught...for the science classes I have found that small is best for safety reasons. It is hard to supervise a class of 30 with bunsen burners and various chemicals. There is also the issue of supplies in large science classes...it is rather difficult to conduct an experiment when there are too many students.

Class size reduction is one of a very few education reforms that works, according to research, experience and commonsense.

Moreover, I'm not clear why it is so expensive. Expensive compared to what? The hundreds of millions now being spent on the DOE accountability initiative, including all the "data inquiry teams" etc? The hundreds of millions being spent on charter schools? The tens of millions being spent on the Leadership Academy and merit pay?

Why not instead design and carry out some well- controlled, randomized experiments on these much more speculative initiatives, for example, merit pay etc? And don't look just at the high stakes test scores but look at other student outcomes not so easily manipulated?

I don't know of any such experiments that currently exist in NYC or elsewhere. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Despite the much repeated canard that there is some tradeoff between teacher quality and class size, this has never been shown to be the case. The reality is that we have no idea how to make teachers more effective other than reducing class size -- and surveys of both principals and teachers nationwide overwhelming show that educators think this is the best way to improve teacher quality.

Moreover, none of the other initiatives that Bloomberg and Klein are subjecting our children to would ever be allowed in the private schools that they sent their own kids to; they would be considered insulting to students and demeaning to staff. Meanwhile, class sizes in those schools are all 15 or less.

Reducing class size is not just a moral imperative in NYC -- it is now state law, despite the fact that the DOE seems determined to ignore both of these facts.

Why look just at different nations? What about suburbs and urban areas? Why not compare NYC and Long Island and Westchester? If the places with the largest achievement gaps have the highest class sizes certain conclusions might be drawn.or

Norm,

As several of the posters have already noted, most of what people perceive the parents of students who attend private schools "get" is improved classroom behavior. Since I am not one of those parents, I have no direct experience.

But mixing home mortgage guarantees with education reform really doesn't clarify the issue of whether investing in CSR is worth the cost. As a former teacher I can completely understand you point of view that it would have reduced your workload, and decreased the odds of you getting a particularly large set of disruptive students.

My concern is that unless you were a good teacher (and mind you this is not a personal attack Norm, I am sure you and many others were very good teachers) putting the kids into a smaller class with a lower quality instructor is not an improvement.

In any case, what Skoolboy is calling for is the kinds of research that would take your supposition and and prove it in a way that would be hard for people like Klein to refute. Seems like you'd be all for that.

regards

Matthew,

I don't understand the "full employment for the UFT" crack. Not only are all our teachers employed, but the city actually runs expensive ad campaigns begging people to quit their jobs and join the ranks. Sure the UFT benefits from having more members, but they benefit more from pleasing their current ones, who don't like large classes.

Consider this: Smaller classes could reduce the attrition rate and therefore improve teacher quality.

Ultimately, though. I agree with Cody. The problem is with the disrupters. The public would be shocked to know what kind of behavior is tolerated in many schools.

Leonie,

Interesting that you would invoke "common sense." Common sense would tell us that hiring enough teachers to make a significant enough difference in class size would be really, really expensive. Way more expensive than any of the other expenditures you mention. Common sense also tells us that, in a city and a country that doesn't have enough good teachers, massively increasing the number of teachers will, in fact, dilute their quality.

Reducing class size across a district like New York's has not been shown to improve student achievement (look at the failure of the Abbott initiatives - which included smaller class sizes an exorbitantly high funding levels - in New Jersey). Let's stop pretending that it has, or relying on "common sense" that contradicts, well, common sense.

There is plenty of research on the effects of class size. One of the best papers that I've found is Robert Coe's presentation to the British Educational Research Association's annual conference, 12-14 September, 2002.

In his paper, he compares the effect sizes of different educational interventions. Class size is effective, with an effect size of about .30. Since .25 is considered significant in education, this does make a difference. However, it must be compared to alternative interventions to determine if it's the most cost-effective solution.

Another informative research paper is Michael Rebar's paper entitled "Academic Acceleration in First Grade Reading Using the Direct Instruction Model". This paper, for example, found an effect size of 1 for implementation of Open Court as a reading program, and it found an effect size of almost 2 for implementing Reading Mastery, a Direct Instruction program. So while class size is effective, it appears that curriculum is much more important, and vastly more cost-effective.

here's the bottom line: We don't need to rely on the NYC school system to run its own study to determine the effect of class size, any more than Philadelphia has to run its own trial to learn if statins are effective for the citizens of Philadelphia. We can use existing research to determine the most effective methods of improving education, assuming we are open to what it really says.

rockymountaindad: I agree that there are many educational interventions that are worth considering, and that good policy analysis assesses both the projected effectiveness and cost of a policy or program.

But I think your example of statin effects in Philadelphia doesn't work very well. You're assuming that statin effects are universal, and don't depend on local context--presumably because the drugs affect the human body the same way, on average, regardless of whether one lives in New York or Philadelphia. The available evidence suggests that this is not true, for several reasons. First, compliance with prescribed treatments does vary across sites, and if we are interested in what we would actually observe as an outcome if a particular intervention were implemented, we would want to know not just the effect of the treatment on compliers, but also the effect of the treatment on the intended beneficiaries (i.e., an intention-to-treat analysis). Second, specifically with regard to statins, there is clinical evidence that their effects on low-density lipoproteins (LDL) differ for African-Americans and whites. Differences in local context matter even for clinical trials in medicine, and likely are much more important in education.

Rockymountaindad,

Good points - even if we could confirm that class size reduction works system-wide (as opposed to in an individual classroom, where the effect of diluting the teacher pool wouldn't be felt), the questions would remain "how much does it work relative to its cost" and "are there less expensive reform methods that work better?"

The jury is still out on the first question, but the second one HAS to be "yes", given the expense of class size. For Leonie, who wondered if it would be as expensive as the other reforms Klein has implemented, let's think about the numbers.

In Coe's study, they reduced class size from 24 to 15 and found very modest gains. Our classes in NYC are typically bigger than 24, so obviously that wouldn't be the exact number we'd be reducing from, but let's say the percentage change would be the same.

24 --> 15 is a 37.5% reduction, which probably means we'll need about 37.5% more teachers. That would be about 30,000 new teachers in NYC. Let's assume an annual cost of about $70,000 for salary and benefits combined. That's already $2,100,000,000, ANNUALLY! $2.1 billion!

Wait, I'm not done.

Then you have to increase HR-related administrative expenditures by about the same amount, increase the number of supervisors (NYC supervisors/APs/Principals are already understaffed) by the same percentage, and, here's the kicker, FIND A TON OF NEW BUILDINGS. We're probably talking about annual costs approaching $2.5-$3 billion and one-time costs for facilities that are even worse than that.

So no, it is not cost-effective to lower class size by an amount that would (maybe) make even a small difference in the lives of the students.

The reason there are zealots about class size is that the union stands to collect way, way more dues if class size reduction happens, and they know it never will because of the costs I just outlined. So they know there's a perpetual red herring they can point to whenever someone tries to cast blame on the teachers - "no, it's the class size - the district won't lower its class size, and THAT'S why we're failing!"

Regarding cost, maybe the answer is not to decrease class size across the board. Instead target specific grades and areas. Since the research presented seems to show that small class size is most effective in the early grades, target K-2 grade. Since several people have commented on the fact that small class size helps with more disruptive students, focus on areas where that is more likely to be the population.
I live in a small, midwestern city and a focus does seem to be smaller class sizes in the highest needs schools. On the other hand a nearby suburb this year lowered class size by removing literacy specialists and making additional classes (I believe class size will be 17 in k-2). I'm curious what is going to happen.

As an English teacher, smaller class sizes are a major workload issue for me. With smaller classes, I can assign more frequent writing to my students and actually keep up with the pile of grading (which I am procrastinating about right now...).

However, I will say that I have different preferences depending on the class. With my Advanced Placement students, I want a largish group because I want their energy level high. These are kids who are generally very enthusiastic when I come up with good plans, and when a group gets below about 15, I think it loses some of that frisson.

On the other hand, the smaller the better for my remedial kids. Most of them are from foster homes/group home situations and carry mental illness diagnoses and/or are significantly learning disabled. The energy shoots off into all kinds of directions I might not want. 15 gets exhausting to manage and ineffective considering all the individual attention they require.

I would love to see good research on class size -- I see no reason we can't have it with all those ed schools out there.

Lightly Seasoned: I agree with your points, above. (See my first comment on this post.) I found that large classes of well-behaved kids aren't much of a problem, whereas smaller classes (even of 15 or fewer students) of students with multiple learning/behavior problems can be extremely challenging.

And as a former English teacher, I second your concern about the burden of grading so many papers. At 5 minutes an essay (not much time), grading 150 essays takes 750 minutes (12 and a half hours). And most of the grading will be done, by necessity, after contract hours.

Socrates' calculations are clearly erroneous -- based on the total existing teaching force, he assumes that all the teachers currently employed are actually classroom teachers. And this also omits the fact that many teachers are assigned to special ed classes, that are already small.

Instead, under this administration, we have seen a very costly increase in the overall level of spending, an increase in the total no. of teachers, a decline in the number of students, but no significant improvement in terms of class size.

Why? There has been an explosion of out-of-classroom positions and useless bureaucrats, including data coaches, literacy coaches, and god knows what else -- most of them UFT members, by the way but having little actual contact with kids.

This has been truly expensive, this is what has been a huge waste of money, this is what Mayoral control and other clueless non-educators, attorneys and consultants running the system has led to.

Instead, one needs to work from the total number of classes; and doing it this way, it would cost less than $200 million to reduce class size by two in all grades. And considerably less than a billion to get to where we need to be.

No, Socrates, the reason there are zealots about class size is that this is only of the only ways we know how to significantly improve outcomes for students --but we just don't care enough to do it for poor kids in NYC, unlike the rest of the state.

Moreover, it would be a lot cheaper to reduce class size if you redeployed those thousands of teachers in out-of-classroom positions into the classroom - but that would take actual leadership, and considered thought, which appears to be beyond the ken of those currently in charge.

Leonie, you're clearly ignoring the point by constructing straw men. Let me put this as clearly as possible. Even if fully HALF of the current teachers are special ed or non-classroom teachers, we're still talking about well over a BILLION dollars. Your claim was that the "hundreds of millions" of dollars the DOE has allegedly spent on things you don't happen to like could've been better spent lowering class size. Um, no they couldn't. Not in any meaningful way.

I'll tell you what, Leonie. Give me the number of classroom teachers you think actually exist in NYC and I'll figure out how much a significant class size reduction would cost. Because we already know what the benefit will be: marginal at the very best.

Of course, the union will benefit tremendously by the extra dollars, and that's really what the class size zealots are after, isn't it?

Everyone outside of the union/ed school world knows that what Klein has done has been nothing short of incredible. Leonie and the others laying prostrate at the feet of the status quo know that meaningful class size reduction is prohibitively expensive. The resulting paralysis gives the union cabal the cover it needs to continue to protect the lousy teachers at the expense of the good teachers, and at the expense of the kids.

When we ask for an experiment of 10 or 20 or even 30 schools where we reduce class size drastically instead of closing them, as I did on my blog, Socrates chimes in with "that's too small a sample to make a judgement." Here he talks about how it costs too much to do it system wide despite the excellent points Leonie raises.
Thus, no matter how you want to cut it on class size, it is really about ideology, not education.

There are many out of classroom gigs and Klein's 2 coaches per school (3000 people or so) only scratches the surface.

By the way, the highly scripted Success for All reading program put all these out of classroom personnel into teachign reading groups and for an hour and a half each day class size was cut drastically. That was a major and often ignored reason for whatever success the program had.

The problem isn't one of ideology on this side of the debate, Norm. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a teacher who is ideologically opposed to smaller classes.

My point on your blog, as I explained clearly, is that when class size reductions cause problems, it's because they cause a dilution of the teacher pool. A pilot of the size you mentioned won't activate that problem, and thus won't give us a clear idea of whether it can work system-wide.

On the other hand, a system-wide approach is unrealistic, because it's too expensive for the amount of improvement it will bring. Even the most optimistic results we've seen have been that class size reductions create small benefits. For over a billion dollars, the benefit would have to be enormous, or that money would be better spent elsewhere.

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American Educational Research Journal
American Federation of Teachers
Andrew Ho
Art Siebens
ATR
Baltimore City Public Schools
Barack Obama
Bill Ayers
black-white achievement gap
books
books on educational research
boy crisis
brain-based education
Brian Jacob
bubble kids
Building on the Basics
Cambridge Education
carnival of education
Caroline Hoxby
Caroline Hoxby charter schools
cell phone plan
charter schools
Checker Finn
Chicago
Chicago shooting
Chicago violence
Chris Cerf
class size
Coby Loup
college access
cool people you should know
credit recovery
curriculum narrowing
D3M
Dan Willingham
data driven
data-driven decision making
data-driven decision-making
David Cantor
DC
Dean Millot
demographics of schoolchildren
Department of Assessment and Accountability
Department of Education budget
desegregation
Diplomas Count
disadvantages of elite education
do schools matter
Doug Ready
Doug Staiger
dropout factories
dropout rate
dropouts
education books
education policy
education policy thinktanks
educational equity
educational research
educational triage
effects of neighborhoods on education
effects of No Child Left Behind
effects of schools
effects of Teach for America
elite education
ETS
Everyday Antiracism
excessed teachers
exit exams
experienced teachers
Fordham and Ogbu
Fordham Foundation
Frederick Douglass High School
Gates Foundation
gender
gender and education
gender and math
gender and science and mathematics
gifted and talented
gifted and talented admissions
gifted and talented program
gifted and talented programs in New York City
girls and math
good schools
graduate student union
graduation rate
graduation rates
guns in Chicago
health benefits for teachers
High Achievers
high school
high school dropouts
high school exit exams
high school graduates
high school graduation rate
high-stakes testing
high-stakes tests and science
higher ed
higher education
highly effective teachers
Houston Independent School District
how to choose a school
IES
incentives in education
Institute for Education Sciences
is teaching a profession?
is the No Child Left Behind Act working
Jay Greene
Jim Liebman
Joel Klein
John Merrow
Jonah Rockoff
Kevin Carey
KIPP
KIPP and boys
KIPP and gender
Lake Woebegon
Lars Lefgren
leaving teaching
Leonard Sax
Liam Julian

Marcus Winters
math achievement for girls
McGraw-Hill
meaning of high school diploma
Mica Pollock
Michael Bloomberg
Michelle Rhee
Michelle Rhee teacher contract
Mike Bloomberg
Mike Klonsky
Mike Petrilli
narrowing the curriculum
National Center for Education Statistics Condition of Education
NCLB
neuroscience
new teachers
New York City
New York City bonuses for principals
New York City budget
New York City budget cuts
New York City Budget cuts
New York City Department of Education
New York City Department of Education Truth Squad
New York City ELA and Math Results 2008
New York City gifted and talented
New York City Progress Report
New York City Quality Review
New York City school budget cuts
New York City school closing
New York City schools
New York City small schools
New York City social promotion
New York City teacher experiment
New York City teacher salaries
New York City teacher tenure
New York City Test scores 2008
New York City value-added
New York State ELA and Math 2008
New York State ELA and Math Results 2008
New York State ELA and Math Scores 2008
New York State ELA Exam
New York state ELA test
New York State Test scores
No Child Left Behind
No Child Left Behind Act
passing rates
Pearson
picking a school
press office
principal bonuses
proficiency scores
push outs
pushouts
qualitative educational research
qualitative research in education
quitting teaching
race and education
racial segregation in schools
Randall Reback
Randi Weingarten
Randy Reback
recovering credits in high school
Rick Hess
Robert Balfanz
Robert Pondiscio
Roland Fryer
Russ Whitehurst
Sarah Reckhow
school budget cuts in New York City
school choice
school effects
school integration
single sex education
skoolboy
small schools
small schools in New York City
social justice teaching
Sol Stern
SREE
Stefanie DeLuca
stereotype threat
talented and gifted
talking about race
talking about race in schools
Teach for America
teacher effectiveness
teacher effects
teacher quailty
teacher quality
teacher tenure
teachers
teachers and obesity
Teachers College
teachers versus doctors
teaching as career
teaching for social justice
teaching profession
test score inflation
test scores
test scores in New York City
testing
testing and accountability
Texas accountability
TFA
The No Child Left Behind Act
The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains
thinktanks in educational research
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Tom Kane
Tweed
University of Iowa
Urban Institute study of Teach for America
Urban Institute Teach for America
value-addded
value-added
value-added assessment
Washington
Wendy Kopp
women and graduate school science and engineering
women and science
women in math and science
Woodrow Wilson High School