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A Review that Outlines the Long- Term Effects of Large Class Sizes and Reduced Specials & Enrichment

posted Jan 2, 2016, 4:46 PM by Moriah Tyrrell
  1. We need to understand the profound, long-term impact of having one lower-quality year for our students. Researchers have reported and quantified the significant causal effects of a single year of a positive or negative classroom experience on adult outcomes.

    1. Dr. Raj Chetty, an economist (formerly at Harvard, currently at Stanford) has studied education issues related to the equality of opportunity and the long term impact of classroom quality. The study tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. For every year in a better year, you see better outcomes in adulthood. In positive years, you see significant impact on test scores. While the impact on test scores fades, the effects re-emerge later in life with remarkably large effects on earnings and other markers for success. 

    1. The research reports significant causal impacts on earnings at age 28, college attendance, quality of college, probability of teenage births, and the percentage of college attendance in your neighborhood (a marker of neighborhood quality).

    2. Having a high quality class for just one year raises a child’s cumulative lifetime income by $80,000.

    3. A great teacher can raise lifetime earnings of a single class by $250,000.

    4. The “lower class size” in Chetty’s analyses were 15 students reduced from 22 (some Thompson class sizes are currently 30 due to the space issues and we are projecting more classes at this size for next year). Isolating the reduction of class size in K-3, we see that a 33% reduction equates to $9,460 per student, $189,000 for the classroom.

    5. The potential negative impacts are magnified in disadvantaged populations.

  1. We need to recognize that having 30 students in one class (as would occur if modulars were not available in September 2016) in the Thompson community is putting our teachers in a position where they are facing a challenge that will have economic and quality of life impacts into our students’ adulthood.

    1. Thompson has the highest proportion of students with free/reduced lunch, English language learners, and individual education programs.

    2. The current 3rd grade has already experienced a kindergarten experience where they were bussed to Stratton, moved to the new building and face significant challenges overall.

In summary, as we evaluate short- and long-term plans, it is critical to take into account the disparate impact on low-income and minority students and the impact on all students’ learning and lifetime success.

Taken from notes from Lisa Newmark