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Class size effects on student achievement: heterogeneity across abilities and fields

  • Maria De Paola
  • Michela Ponzo
  • Vincenzo Scoppa

In this paper, we analyze class size effects on college students exploiting data from a project offering special remedial courses in mathematics and language skills to freshmen enrolled at an Italian medium-sized public university. To estimate the effects of class size, we exploit the fact that students and teachers are virtually randomly assigned to teaching classes of different sizes. From our analysis, it emerges that controlling for a number of individual characteristics, larger classes determine a significant and sizeable negative effect on student performance in mathematics. Importantly, this negative effect is significantly larger for low-ability students and negligible for high-ability ones. On the other hand, class size effects do not appear to be relevant for student achievement in language skills.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Education Economics.

Volume (Year): 21 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 135-153

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Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:21:y:2013:i:2:p:135-153
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  1. Wo[ss]mann, Ludger & West, Martin, 2006. "Class-size effects in school systems around the world: Evidence from between-grade variation in TIMSS," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 695-736, April.
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  3. Bandiera, Oriana & Larcinese, Valentino & Rasul, Imran, 2009. "Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students," CEPR Discussion Papers 7512, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  9. Leuven, Edwin & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Rønning, Marte, 2008. "Quasi-Experimental Estimates of the Effect of Class Size on Achievement in Norway," IZA Discussion Papers 3474, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  13. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
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  16. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
  17. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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