CLASS SIZES GROW AS STATES CONFRONT BUDGET WOES
Cash-strapped school districts and states are backing away from reductions
in class size, a reform touted as a magic bullet to improve failing public
Class sizes in many districts are swelling - particularly in middle and
high schools - and initiatives aimed at primary grades are being rolled
back. Experts say the shift is a result of severe budget cuts and mixed
findings on whether smaller classes actually boost learning. At the state
level, Massachusetts is expected to kill its $18 million program to limit
class size in Grades K-3 in low-income schools. Washington State recently
slashed funding for smaller classes in primarily Grades K-4 by $24.5
million. Large districts in Oregon and Utah are boosting maximum class
sizes. Similarly, in Tennessee, tight budgets are expected to push class
sizes up in all grades. And in Florida, a proposed ballot initiative to
constitutionally limit class sizes is running into fierce opposition.
Class-size reduction gained momentum with a 1980s study in Tennessee, which
found that students learn best in classes of 13 to 17, particularly in
primary grades. It also found that low-income and minority students reap
the greatest gains. A Wisconsin study had similar results. More than 20
states have launched class-size initiatives.
Originally published in the Los Angeles Times
"Class sizes grow as states confront budget woes"
The Christian Science Monitor, May 21, 2002