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Analysis of the Impact of Class Size on Student Achievement in Minnesota’s Elementary Schools.

Parents, educators, and public officials in Minnesota have long been concerned about children’s academic achievement in the state’s elementary schools. The issue has become particularly acute as tight budgets at the federal, state, and local levels have forced Minnesota public schools to reduce spending. One possible consequence of the current budget situation is larger class sizes, because keeping class sizes small requires more teachers for a given student population and is therefore quire expensive. Although it is widely believed that small class sizes enhance learning, isolating the impact of class size alone on educational achievement is extremely difficult, and no credible study on this issue has been conducted in Minnesota. Using a research method recently introduced by Harvard University economics professor Caroline Hoxby, Paul Glewwe (Applied Economics) will examine the impact of class size on academic performance in elementary schools in Minnesota using data provided by the Minnesota Department of Education. The research approach Glewwe will use is based on natural variations in birth rates in a given school district, which allows for more precise estimates of the impact of class size on student academic performance. The research project may also include various community groups in the state that work on education issues.

Project Award Date: 
Community organization or agency: 
Minnesota Department of Education data
Reports and related files
Sponsoring CURA Program: 
CURA Contact: 
Edward Goetz Director, CURA (612) 624-8737