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An investigation of the effect of class size on student academic achievement

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  • Melvin Borland
  • Roy Howsen
  • Michelle Trawick

Abstract

Despite the existence of a considerable and current educational literature concerned with the effect of class size on student achievement, the results of attempts to empirically identify the relationship between the variables class size and student achievement are mixed at best. These attempts have typically been hindered, however, by the existence, at least, of one of four factors: (1) the use of a student/teacher ratio as the measure of class size resulting in measurement error; (2) the estimation of a mis-specified model resulting from the failure to control for family effects (i.e., student innate ability); (3) the general failure to take into account the endogeneity of class size with respect to student achievement; and (4) the employment of an incorrect functional form when specifying the relationship between class size and student achievement. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of class size on student achievement, unhindered by the existence of the four factors typically associated with prior attempts. The results of this reinvestigation suggest that the relationship between class size and student achievement is not only non-linear, but non-monotonic.

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File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/0964529042000325216
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Education Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 73-83

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Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:13:y:2005:i:1:p:73-83

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Related research

Keywords: Class size; student achievement; optimality; competition;

References

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  1. Steve Bradley & Jim Taylor, 2004. "Ethnicity, educational attainment and the transition from school," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 72(3), pages 317-346, 06.
  2. Hoxby, Caroline Minter, 1996. "How Teachers' Unions Affect Education Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 671-718, August.
  3. Melvin Borland & Roy Howsen, 2000. "Manipulable Variables of Policy Importance: The Case of Education," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 241-248.
  4. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
  5. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
  6. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
  7. Driscoll, Donna & Halcoussis, Dennis & Svorny, Shirley, 2003. "School district size and student performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 193-201, April.
  8. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Escardíbul, Josep Oriol & Calero, Jorge, 2013. "Two Quality Factors In The Education System: Teaching Staff And School Autonomy. The Current State Of Research," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 13(3), pages 5-18.
  2. Funkhouser, Edward, 2009. "The effect of kindergarten classroom size reduction on second grade student achievement: Evidence from California," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 403-414, June.

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