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Class Size and Educational Policy: Who Benefits from Smaller Classes?

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  • Esfandiar Maasoumi
  • Daniel Millimet
  • Vasudha Rangaprasad

Abstract

The impact of class size on student achievement remains an open question despite hundreds of empirical studies and the perception among parents, teachers, and policymakers that larger classes are a significant detriment to student development. This study sheds new light on this ambiguity by utilizing nonparametric tests for stochastic dominance to analyze unconditional and conditional test score distributions across students facing different class sizes. Analyzing the conditional distributions of test scores (purged of observables using class-size specific returns), we find that there is little causal effect of marginal reductions in class size on test scores within the range of 20 or more students. However, reductions in class size from above 20 students to below 20 students, as well as marginal reductions in classes with fewer than 20 students, increase test scores for students below the median, but decrease test scores above the median. This nonuniform impact of class size suggests that compensatory school policies, whereby lower-performing students are placed in smaller classes and higher-performing students are placed in larger classes, improves the academic achievement of not just the lower-performing students but also the higher-performing students.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Econometric Reviews.

Volume (Year): 24 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 333-368

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Handle: RePEc:taf:emetrv:v:24:y:2005:i:4:p:333-368

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Related research

Keywords: Class size; Program evaluation; Quantile treatment effects; School quality: Stochastic dominance; Student achievement;

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Cited by:
  1. Eren, Ozkan & Millimet, Daniel, 2005. "Time to Learn? The Organizational Structure of Schools and Student Achievement," Departmental Working Papers 0506, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  2. Ozkan Eren & Daniel J. Henderson, 2008. "The impact of homework on student achievement," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 11(2), pages 326-348, 07.
  3. Daniel Millimet; Vasudha Rangaprasad, 2004. "Strategic Competition Amongst Public Schools," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 197, Econometric Society.
  4. Thomas Gall & Roland Amann, 2006. "How (not) to Choose Peers in Studying Groups," Working Papers 2006.79, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. Trevor Collier & Daniel Millimet, 2009. "Institutional arrangements in educational systems and student achievement: a cross-national analysis," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 329-381, October.

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