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Experimental estimates of the impacts of class size on test scores: robustness and heterogeneity

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  • Weili Ding
  • Steven Lehrer

Abstract

Proponents of class size reductions (CSRs) draw heavily on the results from Project Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio to support their initiatives. Adding to the political appeal of these initiative are reports that minority and economically disadvantaged students received the largest benefits from smaller classes. We extend this research in two directions. First, to address correlated outcomes from the same class size treatment, we account for the over-rejection of the Null hypotheses by using multiple inference procedures. Second, we conduct a more detailed examination of the heterogeneous impacts of CSRs on measures of cognitive and non-cognitive achievement using more flexible models. We find that students with higher test scores received greater benefits from CSRs. Furthermore, we present evidence that the main effects of the small class treatment are robust to corrections for the multiple hypotheses being tested. However, these same corrections lead the differential impacts of smaller classes by race and free-lunch status to become statistically insignificant.

Suggested Citation

  • Weili Ding & Steven Lehrer, 2011. "Experimental estimates of the impacts of class size on test scores: robustness and heterogeneity," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 229-252.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:19:y:2011:i:3:p:229-252
    DOI: 10.1080/09645292.2011.589142
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/690652 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Simone Balestra & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2014. "Heterogeneous effects of pupil-to-teacher ratio policies - A look at class size reduction and teacher aide," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0102, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Apr 2017.
    3. Ding, Weili & Lehrer, Steven F., 2014. "Understanding the role of time-varying unobserved ability heterogeneity in education production," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 55-75.
    4. Jan Kluge & Michael Weber, 2015. "Decomposing the German East-West wage gap," ifo Working Paper Series 205, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    5. Mueller, Steffen, 2013. "Teacher experience and the class size effect — Experimental evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 44-52.
    6. Michael J. Kottelenberg & Steven F. Lehrer, 2017. "Targeted or Universal Coverage? Assessing Heterogeneity in the Effects of Universal Child Care," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 609-653.
    7. Graham McKee & Katharine Sims & Steven Rivkin, 2015. "Disruption, learning, and the heterogeneous benefits of smaller classes," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1267-1286, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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