Date Approved

2006

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Charles M. Achilles, Ed. D.

Committee Member

Helen Ditzhazy, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Dr. Ella Burton, Ed. D.

Abstract

Background: The degree to which class size is able to produce positive, enduring effects on student achievement has been and continues to be vigorously debated. Comparative studies have clouded the issue with imprecise use of the terms class size (CS) and pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), making it difficult to draw clear conclusions regarding the effects of class size on student achievement.

Purpose: To assess differences, if any, in achievement between students attending classes where the class-size is approximately n = 17 and students attending classes where the class-size is approximately n = 25 and the pupil-teacher ratio is approximately 15:1. Setting: Six public schools from suburban and rural locations in Michigan. A total of 117 third-grade students and 125 fourth-grade students participated.

Research Design: Nonexperimental, ex-post facto, cross-sectional study.

Data Collection and Analysis: Student achievement data were gathered from standardized assessment tools normally collected at each school. Student achievement scores were analyzed by using a two-tailed t test to determine differences in the scores of students in class-size and pupil-teacher-ratio settings. Information was gathered to determine the extent to which the schools providing data for class-size settings had implemented class-size reform as defined by current research.

Observation data were gathered to determine differences in the amount of square footage per student and possible behavioral differences between students in the two settings.

Findings: Significant differences in student-achievement-outcome scores between students in class-size and pupil-teacher-ratio settings were identified in third-grade mathematics and fourth-grade reading but not in third-grade reading or fourth-grade mathematics. None of the sites supplying class-size data for the study had fully implemented class-size settings according to current research. Students in small classes exhibited significantly fewer instances of disruptive behavior and had significantly more square feet per student than did the students in pupil-teacher-ratio class settings. Conclusions: Analyses showed that in one half of the categories there were significant differences in the achievement of students in CS and PTR settings, while in the other half of the categories there were no significant achievement differences. Class-size initiatives not implemented in accordance with current research do not produce positive effects on student achievement; however, CS did improve the classroom environment.

Comments

Additional committee member: Michael Paciorek. Ph. D.

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