Benefits of Smaller Class Sizes

As a parent sending your child off to school in the morning, you want to be sure they will be making the most out of their day in the classroom. But what if despite being enrolled in a good neighbourhood school with fantastic teachers, their potential for learning and development is being stifled by overcrowded classrooms? What if your child isn't getting the attention they need? This is just one reason why many parents in Ontario are starting to look at the benefits of a private school education.

There are many variables Canadian policymakers take into account when determining the best strategy for improving the quality of education and encouraging student achievement. At the forefront is the issue of class size, which has routinely been demonstrated to be a key factor that affects learning and the development of social skills for children and secondary students. A definitive review of existing research in 2014 by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder has reaffirmed that a small class size plays a crucial role in improving a child’s learning experience, as well as promoting meaningful social interactions with other students. Authored by Associate Professor Diane Schanzenbach, NEPC’s review explains:
Small classes have been found to have positive impacts not only on test scores during the duration of the class-size reduction experiment, but also on life outcomes in the years after the experiment ended.
Tennessee’s STAR class size experiment between 1985 and 1989 was used for the basis of NEPC’s review, and provides concrete evidence for the benefits of a small class size. As for “life outcomes”, students assigned to small classes performed better than students in comparably larger classes in the areas of: high school graduation, college acceptance, marriage rates, homeownership and more. The rationale behind this positive review is that a small class size is conducive for solidifying meaningful social relationships and promoting teamwork between students. When an instructor can also dedicate more time and effort to one-on-one tutelage instead of spreading themselves thin and being sidetracked with behaviour management, individual test performances increase and students receive an education more tailored to their needs.

Thank you for reading!
Carrie Nelson

Quotation Source: “Does Class Size Matter?” by Northwestern University Associate Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach.

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