Democrats and educators are in an all-out assault to restore cuts to the proposed House education budget. One of the biggest spoils in this battle is a provision to raise average class size by two students. The change would save the state about $644 million over two years. As we might expect the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), the state’s largest teachers union, declared the cuts the end of the world as we know it. Hogwash. There isn’t the time to review the checkered research surrounding class size. Suffice it to say it’s sketchy and far from conclusive. My friend Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation does a good job of explaining that in the June issue of Carolina Journal.
We often forget California invested heavily in programs to reduce class size, close to $16 billion over ten years. According to Lance Izumi, Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, the state has little to show for it. After analyzing the program, researchers found no association between the number of years a student has been in smaller classes and student achievement.
Despite a growing body of research that better teaching is the key to improving student achievement, many legislators continue to live under the spell that class size is a key determinant of academic achievment. It's time to shatter that myth.