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.

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

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User comments : 5

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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....
1 / 5 (1) May 14, 2010
They also didn't exactly follow the rule seeing as they passed every exemption possible to circumnavigate it.
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.
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!
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.