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The effect of kindergarten classroom size reduction on second grade student achievement: Evidence from California


  • Funkhouser, Edward


Because classroom size reduction (CSR) and standards based testing were implemented at the same time in California during the mid-1990s, it is difficult to isolate the effects of classroom size on outcomes from the effects of curriculum changes. As a result, the main comparison in this paper is very specific - the effect of reduced sized kindergarten classrooms on test performance in second grade. The main result of the paper is that the effect of classroom size reduction is small, especially when compared to the other determinants of student achievement at the second grade level. There is a very small effect of classroom size reduction on student achievement in reading and math, and no effect in language and spelling. Of the two offsetting effects of CSR controlling for spending - the direct effect of smaller classes and the indirect effect on teacher quality, the class-size effect is larger. Over time, the negative effect on teacher quality is reduced as new teachers gain experience and credentials.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:28:y:2009:i:3:p:403-414

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
    2. Melvin Borland & Roy Howsen & Michelle Trawick, 2005. "An investigation of the effect of class size on student academic achievement," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 73-83.
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    Cited by:

    1. Destin, Mesmin, 2013. "Integrating resource-based and person-based approaches to understanding wealth effects on school achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 171-178.
    2. Michael Gilraine & Hugh Macartney & Robert McMillan, 2018. "Education Reform in General Equilibrium: Evidence from California's Class Size Reduction," NBER Working Papers 24191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Moshe Justman, 2016. "Economic Research and Education Policy: Project STAR and Class Size Reduction," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n37, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.


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