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Class Size in the Early Years: Is Smaller Really Better?

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  • Maria Iacovou

Abstract

Other things being equal, theory would suggest that students in smaller classes at school should do better in terms of attainment; convincing experimental evidence for this also exists in the US. However, a relationship between small classes and better outcomes has not generally been evident in individual-level studies, possibly because of endogeneity arising from low-attaining or otherwise 'difficult' students being put into smaller classes than their higher-achieving counterparts. The present paper uses data from the National Child Development Study to estimate the effects of class size. Ordinary least-squares estimates indicate that small classes are not related to attainment; however, instrumental variables estimates, with class size instrumented by the interaction between school size and school type, show a significant and sizeable association between smaller classes and higher attainment in reading in the early years of school. This effect is common to different groups of students, and for some groups (girls, and those from larger families), this association is also found to persist through to age 11.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Iacovou, 2002. "Class Size in the Early Years: Is Smaller Really Better?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 261-290.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:10:y:2002:i:3:p:261-290 DOI: 10.1080/09645290210127499
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    Cited by:

    1. Ian Crawford, 2004. "Necessary and sufficient conditions for latent separability," IFS Working Papers W04/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Smyth, Emer & McCoy, Selina, 2009. "Investing in Education: Combating Educational Disadvantage," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS006.
    3. Becerra, Ligia Melo, 2004. "Intergovernmental fiscal relations : the Colombian case," Economics PhD Theses 0304, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    4. Lane, Philip & McCoy, Selina & Smith, Stephen & Smyth, Emer & Van Soest, Arthur & Walsh, John R., 2003. "Budget Perspectives 2004," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BMI172 edited by Callan, Tim & Doris, Aedin & McCoy, Daniel.
    5. Ma, Lingjie & Koenker, Roger, 2006. "Quantile regression methods for recursive structural equation models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 134(2), pages 471-506, October.
    6. Ligia Melo Becerra, 2005. "Impacto De La Descentralización Fiscal Sobre La Educación Pública Colombiana," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002802, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    7. Ludger Wößmann, 2003. "European education production functions: what makes a difference for student achievement in Europe?," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 190, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    8. McCoy, Selina & Smyth, Emer, 2003. "Educational Expenditure: Implications for Equality," Papers BP2004/4, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    9. Fiona Steele & Anna Vignoles & Andrew Jenkins, 2007. "The effect of school resources on pupil attainment: a multilevel simultaneous equation modelling approach," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(3), pages 801-824.
    10. Stephen Gibbons & Sandra McNally, 2013. "The Effects of Resources Across School Phases: A Summary of Recent Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp1226, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Amini, Chiara & Nivorozhkin, Eugene, 2015. "The urban–rural divide in educational outcomes: Evidence from Russia," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 118-133.
    12. Arnaud Chevalier & Peter Dolton & Rosalind Levacic, 2004. "School quality and effectiveness," Working Papers 200410, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    13. Smyth, Emer & McCoy, Selina & Kingston, Gillian, 2015. "Learning from the Evaluation of DEIS," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS39.

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