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The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR

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  • Alan Krueger
  • Diane Whitmore

Abstract

This paper provides a long-term follow-up of students who participated in the Tennessee STAR experiment. The Tennessee STAR experiment randomly assigned 11,600 elementary school students and their teachers to a small class, regular-size class or regular-size class with a teacher-aide. The experiment began with the wave of students who entered kindergarten in 1985, and lasted for four years. After the third grade, all students returned to regular-size classes. We analyze the effect of past attendance in a small class on standardized test scores through the eighth grade, on whether students took the ACT or SAT college entrance exam, and on how they performed on the ACT or SAT exam. The results suggest that attending a small class in the early grades is associated with somewhat higher performance on standardized test, and an increase in the likelihood that students take a college-entrance exam, especially among minority students. Most significantly, being assigned to a small class appears to have narrowed the black-white gap in college-test taking by 54 percent. A calculation is presented suggesting that the internal rate of return from reducing class size from 22 to 15 students is 5.5 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 2000. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," NBER Working Papers 7656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7656 Note: CH LS
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    1. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, March.
    2. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
    3. Lang, Kevin & Ruud, Paul A, 1986. "Returns to Schooling, Implicit Discount Rates and Black-White Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 41-47, February.
    4. W. Steven Barnett, 1992. "Benefits of Compensatory Preschool Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 279-312.
    5. Dynarski, Mark, 1987. "The Scholastic Aptitude Test: Participation and performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 263-273, June.
    6. David Card & Abigail A. Payne, 1997. "School Finance Reform, the Distribution of School Spending, and the Distribution of SAT Scores," Working Papers 766, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    8. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
    9. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-652, September.
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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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