How Much Does Class Size Affect Your Child's Learning?

Do students in large classes perform just as well as students in smaller ones? Several studies suggest that smaller class sizes result in higher achievement levels. But is it only the size of the class or are other variables at play?

Find available tutors

class size debate

Size Matters

Teachers unions advocate it. Parents prefer it. And some state legislators, most recently those in Wyoming, even mandate it. But does class size really matter?

Some say no, that things like teacher quality and curriculum are far more important to student success than the number of kids in the class. In some cases, educators place class size fourth or even lower on a list of elements affecting student achievement.

Yet numerous studies clearly show the benefits of smaller class size. Higher grades, lower dropout rates, good behavior and even better health have all been linked to smaller classes.

In what is considered one of the most credible studies on the subject, the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) study conducted in the 1980s found that reducing class size by 32% (seven students from a class of 22) led to achievement levels equal to three additional months of instruction.

Thinking Small

The thinking behind small class size is sensible: less students means teachers can devote more time on an individual basis, leading to improved learning. But this is not necessarily true across the board.

For instance, the largest academic gains are seen in lower grades (generally K-3) or when class sizes are reduced to 20 students or less. But with many schools facing overcrowding issues and teacher layoffs, are classes of less than 20 students possible? Realistically, no.

Maintaining smaller classes requires more teachers; in this time of budget cuts and reduced funding, hiring teachers is not an option for most schools.

Students Speak Out

Perhaps the most important voices to be heard in class size arguments are those who are undoubtedly most affected: students themselves.

In March 2011, the Education section of The New York Times asked 'Does Class Size Matter?' The online article invited students to give their thoughts and personal experiences about smaller versus larger class sizes.

The majority of the nearly 160 responses indicated that students felt 'more comfortable' in smaller classes, that fewer students led to more personalized learning, that smaller classes were more 'fun' and that it helped them to 'learn better.'

Unfortunately, smaller classes mean larger budgets, and in the current economy that is not likely to happen. Thus, smaller classes do not appear to be the norm - even if the law demands it.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    How to Teach Your Kids to Use the Internet Responsibly

    A question for parents: would you allow your children to play outside without keeping an eye on them? Many would likely say no. Well, the same mentality should be used when your kids use the Internet; in other words, kids should not be allowed to roam the vast world of the Internet unsupervised and without fully understanding its...

  • More Blog Articles
    How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

    If you have a child in elementary, middle or high school, then you've likely heard plenty of stories about bullying. Even if your child is not the target of bullying, he or she could still be affected by it. As a parent, you'll certainly want to make your kids aware of this persistent and growing problem in schools across the...

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth