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Economic Considerations and class size

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  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University and NBER)

Abstract

This paper examines evidence on the effect of class size on student achievement. First, it is shown that results of quantitative summaries of the literature, such as Hanushek, depend critically on whether studies are accorded equal weight. Huanushek summarizes 277 estimates extracted from 59 published studies, and weights all estimates equally, which implicitly places more weight on some studies than others. A small number of studies, which often present estimates for several small subsamples of a larger sample, account for more than half of the estimates. Studies from which relatively many estimates were extracted tend to find negative effects of school resources, whereas the majority of studies from which relatively few estimates were extracted tend to find positive effects. When all studies in Hanushek's literature summary are given equal weight, resources are systematically related to student achievement. In addition, when studies are assigned weights in proportion to the impact factor of the journal in which they were published - a crude measure of journal quality - class size is systematically related to achievement. When studies are given weights in proportion to their number of estimates, however, resources and achievement are not systematically related. It is argued that assigning equal weights to studies, or weights according to quality, is preferable to assigning weights according to the number of estimates extracted from the studies, because study quality is unlikely to be related to the number of estimates taken from the study, and because researcher discretion in selecting estimates is limited when studies are assigned equal weight. Second, a cost-benefit analysis of class size reduction is performed. Results of the Tennessee STAR class-size experiment suggest that the internal rate of return from reducing class size from 22 to 15 students is around 6 percent.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 975.

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Date of creation: Sep 2000
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Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:447

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  1. Hanushek, Eric A, 1989. "Expenditures, Efficiency, and Equity in Education: The Federal Government's Role," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 46-51, May.
  2. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric A. Hanushek, . "The Evidence on Class Size," Wallis Working Papers WP10, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  4. Montmarquette, Claude & Mahseredjian, Sophie, 1989. "Does School Matter for Educational Achievement? A Two-Way Nested-Error Components Analysis," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(2), pages 181-93, April-Jun.
  5. Eric A. Hanushek, 2003. "The Failure of Input-Based Schooling Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F64-F98, February.
  6. Sengupta, Jati K. & Sfeir, Raymond E., 1986. "Production frontier estimates of scale in public schools in California," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 297-307, June.
  7. Hanushek, E.A.omson, W., 1996. "Assessing the Effects of School Resources on Student Performance : An Update," RCER Working Papers 424, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  10. 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.
  11. Krueger, Alan B & Whitmore, Diane M, 2001. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 1-28, January.
  12. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1999. "Early Test Scores, Socioeconomic Status and Future Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  14. Link, Charles R. & Mulligan, James G., 1986. "The merits of a longer school day," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 373-381, August.
  15. Hanushek, Eric A., 2006. "School Resources," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  16. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. James Heckman & Anne Layne-Farrar & Petra Todd, 1995. "The Schooling Quality-Earnings Relationship: Using Economic Theory to Interpret Functional Forms Consistent with the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1997. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 5888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Kiesling, Herbert J., 1984. "Assignment practices and the relationship of instructional time to the reading performance of elementary school children," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 341-350, August.
  20. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  21. Stern, David, 1989. "Educational cost factors and student achievement in grades 3 and 6: Some new evidence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 149-158, April.
  22. repec:fth:prinin:427 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  24. John Cawley & Karen Conneely & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1996. "Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy," NBER Working Papers 5645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Working Papers 645, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  26. Eric A. Hanushek, 1982. "Throwing money at schools," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 19-41.
  27. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  28. Link, Charles R. & Mulligan, James G., 1991. "Classmates' effects on black student achievement in public school classrooms," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 297-310, December.
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