Reducing Class Size Isn’t Always the Best Use of School Funds

Getting schooled.
Dec. 2 2013 10:46 AM

Schooled: Does Class Size Matter?

The formula for a successful school is more complicated than the teacher-pupil ratio.

To listen to Schooled, Episode 5, use the player below:

Welcome to Schooled, Slate’s new podcast about education.

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Polls show that smaller class sizes are incredibly popular with parents and teachers. But with the Great Recession forcing school budget cuts, class size is once again a matter of debate, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, megaphilanthropist Bill Gates, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all suggesting that larger class sizes could be a good idea.

What do we really know about how class size affects student learning? Is there an ideal class size? In this episode, I talk to Larry Ferlazzo, a public school teacher and blogger, and Matthew Chingos, a class-size researcher at the Brookings Institution.

Podcast production by Sally Herships.

Dana Goldstein is the author of The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession, and a staff writer at The Marshall Project. 

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