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Class size in the early years: is smaller really better?

  • Iacovou, Maria

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.

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File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2001-10.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2001-10.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2001
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Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2001-10
Contact details of provider: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Phone: 44-1206-872957
Fax: 44-1206-873151
Web page: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/
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  1. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
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  15. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
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