Resources

Class size efforts in other states

These thirteen states have class-size-reduction initiatives. Thanks to the Oregon Legislative Policy and Research Office, we are able to show some costs and impacts nationwide.
[Alabama] [California] [Hawaii] [Indiana] [Kentucky] [Michigan/Flint SD] [Minnesota] [Nevada] [New York] [Oklahoma] [Tennessee] [Texas]

Alabama [Top]
Effort:
In 1997, Board of Education voted to limit class sizes for K-3 to 18 students, grades 4-6 to 26 students, grades 7-12 to 29 students.
Costs/Enrollment:
Legislature approved $127 million to pay for up to 900 new teachers to help reduce class size.
Estimated enrollment: 729,600.
Impact:
Not provided.

California [Top]
Effort:
In 1996, incentive provided for schools to reduce grades K-3 to 20 students.
Costs/Enrollment:
1997, schools receive $800 per pupil in reduced size classroom up from $650 in 1996.
$1.4 billion allocated in 1997 and $971 million in 1996.
Estimated enrollment: 5,976,300.
Impact:
18,000 teachers hired last year and 15,300 expected to be hired this year. Nearly 2/3 of new hires have little or no teaching experience. 24% lack credentials. Legislation allows interns to be hired as teachers if supervised. Also allows teachers who retired prior to 7-1-96 to return at full salary without losing retirement benefits for up to 3 years.
No statewide uniform test or standard for evaluation. Each district evaluates differently. Governor’s office says that it may begin assessing in 2000. No pre-test of students was conducted. Dept of Ed has started a foundation to raise money for evaluation. Dept plans to write regulations to ensure uniform data collection.
San Francisco S.D. has seen significantly higher reading and math scores for grades 1-3.
Fewer discipline problems.
Improved relationship between teacher and student, and parent and school.
Students are moving through curriculum faster.
Less transition time between subjects.
Earlier detection and referral of vulnerable kids.
Improved teacher morale.
Lack of space for classrooms means some schools gave up their science labs, libraries, preschool, and parenting education classrooms.

Hawaii [Top]
Effort:
K-2 grades are limited to 21. In 1997, legislature raised maximum from 20 students to save $3 million.
Costs/Enrollment:
Estimated enrollment: 191,633.
Impact:
Not provided.

Indiana [Top]
Effort:
In 1981, PRIME TIME was adopted statewide to reduce K-3 grades. Pilot from 1981-83 reduced classes to 14 students.
Costs/Enrollment:
Legislature appropriated $19 million in 1984 to reduce sizes, but the appropriation resulted only in a reduction to 18 students.
Impact:
Improved behavior.
Higher test scores.
More efficient classrooms.
1987 evaluation showed a very weak, but consistent, affect on academic achievement.
Small classes resulted in higher achievement scores for 2nd graders.

Kentucky [Top]
Effort:
Legislation requires class size not exceed 24 for grades K-3, 28 for grade 4, 29 for grades 5-6, and 31 for grades 7-12. Excludes music and P.E. classes. Excludes schools that have implemented school-based decision making. Allows school council to modify by formal action.
Costs/Enrollment:
Not provided.
Impact:
The Kentucky Legislature has discussed class size reductions for years, but they have determined that the cost is too high to reduce to the level that researchers say is necessary to make a significant improvement in achievement.

Michigan [Top]
Effort:
Categorical program for 1998-99 provides $19.7 million for grants. Schools must have large low-income population and must reduce K-3 classes to an average of 17 and maximum of 19. Intended to be a four year program. Requires matching funds from district. Allocated $250,000 to evaluate.
Costs/Enrollment:
Not provided.
Impact:
Not provided.
Michigan, Flint S.D.
Effort:
In 1994, all students in grades K-3 are in classes with no more than 17 students.
Costs/Enrollment:
Not provided.
Impact:
Comparing 1995 MEAP scores with 1996 scores, there was a 44% increase for reading and 18% increase for math. But 20% of the tested 4th graders had not been in small classes and another 31% were in small classes for only one year. Remaining 49% were in small classes for 2 years.
Fewer discipline problems.
More parental involvement.
More teaching and assessment time.

Minnesota [Top]
Effort:
Law sets goal to reduce K-6 class size to 17. Districts receive additional money for each elementary student and must use the money for class size reduction.
Costs/Enrollment:
Not provided.
Impact:
Not provided.

Nevada [Top]
Effort:
In 1989, legislature passed plan to limit grades 1-3 to 15 students, grades 4-6 to 22 students, and grades 7-12 to 25 students.
Currently, selected kindergarten and 3rd grade classes and all 1st and 2nd grade classes have a pupil-teacher ratio of 16:1.
Costs/Enrollment:
To date, the state spent $254 million for reduced class size, not counting local capital expenditures.
An additional $66 million was appropriated for 1997-98 and $81.4 million for 1998-99.
In the 1996-97 fiscal year, $56 million was spent to fund 1,342 teachers for small classes. Class size reduction cost $800 to $900 per student.
Original legislation funded teacher training, but no funding in 1991, 1993, and 1995.
No money was allocated for evaluation, although monitoring is required.
Estimated state enrollment: 289,321.
Impact:
A 1996 study demonstrated that 1st grade students in small classes had significantly higher reading and math scores in the 2nd grade than students who weren’t in small classes in the 1st grade. The same was found for 2nd graders in small classes when they were assessed in the 3rd grade.
Achievement results differed across student subpopulations, but overall the improvements have been small but significant as measured by reading and math assessments in the 2nd grade.
Fewer special education referrals for students in small classes (2.9 in 1991 to 2.05 in 1996).
Reduced teacher absenteeism.
Facility problems are a major obstacle. Two teachers are frequently assigned to a classroom to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio since there is a shortage of classrooms.

New York [Top]
Effort:
1997 legislation provided funds to lower class sizes in grades K-3 to start in 1999-2000.
Costs/Enrollment:
$75 million appropriated in 1997. Appropriation increases to $225 million by 2001-02.
Estimated enrollment: 2.8 million.
Impact:
Not provided.

Oklahoma [Top]
Effort:
Statute sets maximum class sizes for grades K-6 at 20. Teachers of grades 7-12 are limited at 140 students per day. Limits exclude music and P.E. classes and classes with a teacher’s assistant. Penalty is a loss in state-appropriated funds for each child in excess of the maximum. Allows exception for school districts who lack classroom space and who have satisfied other criteria.
Costs/Enrollment:
Not provided.
Impact:
State had a grant program for targeting oversized classes, but this was found to be cumbersome. As a result they set a 5-year schedule for reducing class size.

Tennessee [Top]
Effort:
Legislation in 1992 set average and maximum class sizes: K-3 (20, 25), 4-6 (25, 30), 7-12 (30, 35), and vocational (20, 25).
Costs/Enrollment:
No separate appropriation for class size reductions; however, state spending increased $600 million between 1991-92 and 1995-96. Money for class size reduction is addressed through the number of teachers funded through the state funding formula in relation to average daily membership.
Impact:
The 4-year, $13 million STAR study was completed in 1990. Results are as follows:
Regular classes with a teacher’s aide (average of 24 students) did not significantly improve achievement.
Disadvantaged students were helped the most; black students in small classes (17 students) were 4% below white students in reading compared to 14% below in larger classes (average of 24 students).
In small classes, 69% of 1st graders passed reading test compared to 58% in larger classes.
After 1st grade, differences in scores narrowed but were maintained through the 3rd grade. Gains were also maintained in the 4th and 5th grades when the small-class students returned to regular classes. No additional gains were seen when the small-class students returned to regular classes in the 4th grade.
Small classes had fewer discipline problems, more questions, greater participation and concentration.
Large classes with a full-time aide performed no better than large classes without an aide.
Students in small classes had no greater motivation.
Teachers specially trained for small classes had no better results than untrained teachers.

Texas [Top]
Effort:
Statute requires a ratio of 22:1 for K-4 and a cap of 15:1 for pre-k.
Costs/Enrollment:
Not provided.
Impact:
Some Texans believe that the class size reduction program is the single most significant contributing factor in Texas’ top ranking by a Rand study on increased achievement among educationally disadvantaged students.

Exploring class size- Resources for reducing class size