Are smaller class sizes the key to breathing new life into today's public schools, or a misguided effort to solve the problems of a dying era? I am surprised to say I have come to believe it's the latter.
An unpublished study from the late 1990s showed that calculus students in classes of about 35 do no better than students in classes of 90 and larger. There was no statistical difference in the amount learned or in the drop-out rate.
Illinois State Superintendent of Education Chris Koch wants to repeal class size limits for special education students. This policy change runs counter to the prevailing research that shows class size truly does matter.
The solution to bad schools is to work toward better schools -- not to medicate the kids victimized by them. How absurd to avoid the shortcomings of our educational system by focusing on the difficulties individual children have in coping with them.
Not only is class size reduction one of the top priorities of parents and educators as shown in numerous surveys and polls, it is one of only a handful of reforms that have been proven to work through "rigorous evidence."