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Class Size Reduction and Student Achievement: The Potential Tradeoff between Teacher Quality and Class Size

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  • Christopher Jepsen
  • Steven Rivkin

Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of California’s billion-dollar class-size-reduction program on student achievement. It uses year-to-year differences in class size generated by variation in enrollment and the state’s class-size-reduction program to identify both the direct effects of smaller classes and related changes in teacher quality. Although the results show that smaller classes raised mathematics and reading achievement, they also show that the increase in the share of teachers with neither prior experience nor full certification dampened the benefits of smaller classes, particularly in schools with high shares of economically disadvantaged, minority students.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Jepsen & Steven Rivkin, 2009. "Class Size Reduction and Student Achievement: The Potential Tradeoff between Teacher Quality and Class Size," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:44:y:2009:i1:p223-250
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects of Class Size on Student Achievement: New Evidence from Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285.
    3. Hanushek, Eric A. & Kain, John F. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2004. "Disruption versus Tiebout improvement: the costs and benefits of switching schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1721-1746, August.
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