Florida's Class-Size Reduction Mandate Did Not Improve Student Achievement: Study

May 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study finds that Florida's 2002 constitutional amendment mandating a reduction in the size of classes in school districts throughout the state had no discernible impact upon student achievement, either positive or negative.

Florida’s constitutional amendment, which forced districts to use state funds for class reduction unless they had already reduced class sizes to an acceptable level, had no impact on average student performance. Students in schools where districts were not forced to spend their money on class size reduction improved as much on state tests as those attending schools in districts subject to the constitutional mandate. The study also found no significantly different impact on the average performance of ethnic and or between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students.

The study, conducted by Matthew M. Chingos, a research fellow at Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG), analyzed student-level data provided by the Florida Department of Education to follow all students in grades four through eight who took the state reading and math tests between 2001 and 2007. During this time, average class size was reduced by about three students. Chingos found that students attending schools that were required to reduce class size did no better on state math and reading tests than students attending schools that were given funding to spend as they saw fit. The study also showed no discernible impact on student absenteeism and .

“We do not know from this study whether giving districts more unrestricted state funds has positive effects or not,” Chingos said, “but the study strongly suggests that monies restricted for the purpose of funding class-size reduction mandates are not a productive use of limited educational resources.”

The class size amendment is estimated to have cost about $20 billion over the first eight years of the program and $4 billion per year subsequently. Florida’s voters will be asked this coming November whether or not they wish to revise the constitution’s class size requirement to apply to average class size in each rather than the size of every individual classroom.

“This study is extraordinarily important given the great strain that Florida’s class-size reduction policy is putting on the Florida state budget,” commented Paul E. Peterson, director PEPG. “I hope this study serves as a wake-up call to state legislatures across the nation as they make tough budgetary decisions,” he added. In recent years, twenty-four states have mandated class-size reduction policies.

Explore further: No silver bullet: Study identifies risk factors of youth charged with murder

More information: Access the study on the PEPG website: www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/P… EPG10-03_Chingos.pdf

Related Stories

Study: Larger school districts more strict

Nov 07, 2007

A study of Florida public school districts suggests the size of a district often determines whether students are punished under zero-tolerance policies.

Closing the Achievement Gap in Math and Science

May 02, 2008

The latest results from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program show not only improved proficiency among all elementary and middle school students, but also a closing ...

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

1 hour ago

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

2 hours ago

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

5 hours ago

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

Data indicate there is no immigration crisis

23 hours ago

Is there an "immigration crisis" on the U.S.-Mexico border? Not according to an examination of historical immigration data, according to a new paper from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Caliban
1 / 5 (1) May 14, 2010
So this constitutional mandate- it reduced average class size by three students- but from what to what? 26 to 23? 33 to 30? 48 to 45? Without any frame of reference, this information, and this article itself- are meaningless. Very useful as propaganda, however....
Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (1) May 14, 2010
They also didn't exactly follow the rule seeing as they passed every exemption possible to circumnavigate it.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (3) May 14, 2010
class size reductions have never worked and never will. what will work is letting (making) teachers TEACH and only teach and holding them aqccountable for their students grades.
Caliban
not rated yet May 14, 2010
Good point, Skeptic-
And one that will probably go unremarked during the hand-wringing, finger-pointing debate that is sure to arise as this analysis becomes public.

Perfect fodder to sustain the ideologically sustained deadlock that prevents the implementation of workable, productive policy.

Oh, the Humanity!
Au-Pu
1 / 5 (1) May 14, 2010
With the source of the paper being Harvard one would have to assume that reference data would have been included and that whoever summarised this item for Physorg omitted that material.
I find it hard to imagine that a research fellow from Harvard would not include such vital material in their report.