The verdict is in, the headlines bleat: “Test scores are down!” The verdict is in, headlines blare: “Students improve in Terra Nova Tests!”
Reducing class size is a persistently seductive idea. It just "seems" as if it should be advantageous to everyone: to the students who would garner more teacher time, to the teachers who would have less paper work, to the administrators who would have a contented staff and satisfied parents. It "feels" right, but it raises many questions. First of all, what is the optimum student/teacher ratio? How much does it cost? Will it favorably affect achievement?
Although school reformers have not gone so far as attempting to reach the Platonic ideal student-teacher ratio of one to one, tutor to pupil, they have been enthusiastic advocates of reducing class size. It is a proposal Which has enormous popular and political appeal, one of those innovations that just "feels" like it should work. Some two decades of research studies have indicated a relationship between classes of fewer than 20 students in the early elementary grades and achievement gains for the children fortunate to be in them.