Smaller Classroom Sizes
Reasons for Policy
- Smaller class sizes could positively affect student’s academic performance, especially for disadvantaged or minority students.1
- Individualized attention in the elementary school years can have a positive effect on students that persists throughout their schooling.1
- Local Government
- Local School District
- State Government
- Class sizes of 17-20 students in the elementary school years, especially grades K-3
- Consideration of ideal or reasonable class sizes for each school district
- Use in conjunction with other school policy reforms
- Individualized attention for each student
- Improved academic performance
- Improved attitude towards school
Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy
For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.
The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.
The levels of effectiveness as noted are:
- meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
- consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
- insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.
On average, a smaller class size can achieve small improvements in students’ academic performance (Effect Size: 0.20).1
- St. Louis Missouri Ladue School District has a small class policy with priority for kindergarten through third grade.
- Bonneville Joint School District (Idaho) implements a small class size policy to facilitate student achievement.
Links to Policy Examples
- St. Louis Missouri Ladue School District sets a desirable standard of 20 students for K-2 grades and 22 students for third grade- See PDF
- Bonneville Joint School District: #2240
Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.
Shin, IS, Chung JY (2009). Class size and student achievement in the United States: A meta-analysis. KEDI Journal of Educational Policy, 6(2), 3-19. ↩
Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175. ↩