Exposing Two Class Size Myths

The Patriot-News reports that while schools in the mid-state have laid off some employees, most districts are still below the national average student-teacher ratio of 15.1. The student-teacher ratio is the overall student to staff ratio, not the average class size.

But will these reductions have negative academic impacts? The evidence says no. Academic studies have found little or no correlation between student achievement and class size, teacher salaries, or per-student expenditures.

It seems the quality of education has more to do with how effectively a district uses their teachers than the number of students in the room.

In fact, a 2010 study by 21st Century Partnership for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (21PSTEM) comparing 11th grade math, reading, and science scores on Pennsylvania state tests with district per-student spending found low-spending districts often outperform high spending ones.

In contrast, school districts are beginning to right-size their staff. State-wide, student enrollment decreased by 35,510 since 2000 while schools added 35,821 more staff. School are being forced to deal with tighter budgets after decades of funding increases, but that need not mean a decline in student learning.