Smaller classes a long-term cost-saver

Class size is particularly important for children from low-income and minority families

While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the most cost-effective policy overall, a recent review of academic literature states.

“Some policymakers have argued that class size does not matter…These critics are mistaken. Class size matters. Research supports the common-sense notion that children learn more and teachers are more effective in smaller classes,” Northwestern University associate professor in the School of Education and Social Policy Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach writes.

“Class size is an important determinant of a variety of student outcomes, ranging from test scores to broader life outcomes. Smaller classes are particularly effective at raising achievement levels of low-income and minority children.”

She warns: “increasing class size will harm not only the children’s test scores in the short run, but also their long-run capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.”