Small class sizes for improving student achievement in primary and secondary schools: a systematic review

Author(s): Filges, Trine; Sonne-Schmidt, Christoffer Scavenius; Nielsen, Bjørn Christian Viinholt

Date: 2018

Pages: p. 1-107

This Campbell systematic review examines the impact of class size on academic achievement. The review summarises findings from 148 reports from 41 countries. Ten studies were included in the meta-analysis. Overall, the evidence suggests at best a small effect on reading achievement. There is a negative, but statistically insignificant, effect on mathematics. For the non-STAR studies the primary study effect sizes for reading were close to zero but the weighted average was positive and statistically significant. There was some inconsistency in the direction of the primary study effect sizes for mathematics and the weighted average effect was negative and statistically non-significant. The STAR results are more positive, but do not change the overall finding. All reported results from the studies analysing STAR data indicated a positive effect of smaller class sizes for both reading and maths, but the average effects are small.

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