Small elementary school classes
- 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.