Class size makes a difference

Princeton NJ -- Smaller classes can help narrow the achievement gap between black and white students and might even aid in reducing crime and teen births, according to a new analysis by two Princeton researchers.

The report by economics professor Alan Krueger and graduate student Diane Whitmore, "Would Smaller Classes Help Close the Black-White Achievement Gap?," which is available online at <>, answers its own question: Yes.

In general, students who are enrolled in smaller classes in the early grades have higher test scores both while they are in those grades and when they move on to larger classes, although the edge is reduced in the higher grades. The benefit is even more pronounced for black students. African-Americans who are assigned to a small class for an average of two years between kindergarten and third grade are more likely to take college-entrance exams and have higher scores on those exams than students assigned to large classes in the early years, the study found.

The Princeton study analyzed an experiment known as Project STAR in Tennessee, involving 11,600 elementary students and teachers. Between 1985 and 1989, students were randomly chosen for smaller classes of 13 to 17 students, compared to average classes of 22 to 25 students. The students returned to regular-sized classes in the fourth grade.


May 21, 2001
Vol. 90, No. 28
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Reaction enthusiastic for new leader
Family comes first for new president
Shirley Tilghman bio

Life sciences
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Silver: Doubling not necessarily troubling
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Other news
Merck funds professorship to honor alumnus
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Class size makes a difference

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By the numbers: Reunions
Nassau Notes
Calendar of events

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