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Thompson: Targeted Class-Size Reduction For Toughest Schools

ScreenHunter_22 Nov. 13 08.42In "Does Class Size Really Matter?,"by Peg Tyre, explains that reducing class size, by itself, is not going to save low-performing kids.  Research shows, however, that the positive effects of small class size are long-lasting, and that is more than can be said about test-driven reforms. Moreover, "African American kids who attended predominantly African-American schools get a bigger boost from small class size than did white kids."  Tyre reports that there are very different ways to reduce class size to serve very different purposes.  It makes no sense for affluent parents to see small classes as the "litmus test" for school quality, but common sense says that reducing class size for harder-to-educate kids is the smart choice.  California's unfortunate experiment in reducing class size must be remembered, but we should also note that the state "went on a hiring spree at a time when there were not a lot of highly qualified teachers waiting around on the sidelines to be hired."  Tyre is equally correct in concluding that "good teachers, it seems, are even more important for increasing student achievement."  I would only quarrel with one of her points.  Few or no urban school districts have a line of qualified teachers waiting to be thrown into the toughest schools.  But reducing class size in the toughest schools would be an effective way to recruit scarce talent to those schools, and improve results at the same time.- JT (@drjohnthompson)

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