Small elementary school classes
- This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Seeks to reduce the ratio of students to educators in a classroom
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
Elementary school-aged children
Outcomes and impact
- Some evidence that smaller class sizes create small improvements in academic outcomes, particularly in kindergarten and first grade
- Benefits appear greater for students who are struggling in school
- Gaps between high-performing and low-performing students appear lower in smaller classes
- Evidence that improvements in reading skills among minority students persist for at least five years
- Small classes may improve graduation rates for low-income children, particularly for children in third grade
- Class size reduction efforts appear more likely to have positive impact when accompanied by teaching techniques specially designed for smaller classes
Keys to successful implementation
- Note: This content is under review
- Reduce class sizes to between 15 and 19 students; studies have proved this size range to be the most effective in improving student learning.
- Implement small class sizes early and continue to implement small classes as students progress through grade school.
- Implement a rigorous curriculum and after school programs in order to accelerate the positive effects of smaller class sizes.
- Facility constraints often hamper efforts to reduce class sizes. Maximize space in existing buildings, potentially by remodeling existing school buildings to contain a greater number of small rooms.
- Repurpose infrequently-used spaces, like theaters and libraries, to maximize classroom space.
- Provide English Language Learning and special education programming within a small-class context rather than pulling students out of class.
- Train teachers to use assessment data to improve student achievement in a small class context.