Politicians Ignore Research, Say Smaller Class Size Makes No Difference

Class size matters.

In examining both Project STAR and SAGE, experts found that students in the smaller classes performed better than those in larger classes. Minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students made the most gains, according to the Center for Public Education (CPE).

Haimson said those disadvantaged students, who may not receive as much academic support outside of the classroom as white, middle-class students do, will only improve if placed in small classes in which a teacher can give students the specific attention and support they need.

“We will never successfully narrow the achievement gap without smaller class sizes,” she said.

Furthermore, despite previous research that suggests small class sizes only make a difference in students’ education in Kindergarten through the third grade, CPE reported that students placed in smaller classes have higher scores through the beginning of high school than do their peers consistently placed in larger classes.

And because reducing class size produces such academic benefits, Haimson said keeping classes small is ultimately the more cost-effective option.

“Many studies have shown that class size reduction will pay for itself many times over with better healthcare, increased earning potential and lower crime rates,” Haimson said. “With education spending, the point is not to be as cheap as possible, it’s to be as smart as possible.”

State Charter Law Punishes Ohio’s Largest Districts

The release of the latest school report card data is proving to be a fly in the ointment of a lot of people who were making hay running around claiming Ohio's education system was in crisis and required radical, extreme changes. Contrary to that misbegotten belief, Ohio's public schools are showing widespread improvements, even in large urban districts that have long suffered under Ohio's unfair funding model.

Policy Matters Ohio recently released the information below, on how the recent chart expansion law is going to further hinder this progress.

That progress is in stark contrast to the 2011 charter school report card, which continues to show terrible overall results, with only 1 in 5 charter schools rated as effective or better

Designation 2011 % of Charters 2010 % of Charters
Academic Emergency 20.9% 23.8%
Academic Watch 16.8% 16.6%
Continuous Improvement 28.9% 30.4%
Effective 11.8% 10.0%
Excellent 7.4% 8.5%
Excellent with Distinction 1.5% 0.3%
Not Rated 12.7% 10.3%

Charters versus Districts: CPE, a statewide group of education, parent and civic organizations was quoted in Gongwer

The coalition said report cards show that although strengthened accountability has led to improved performance for some charter schools, a significant drop-off exists on performance index scores between the highly rated charters and the majority of poorly performing ones.
About two dozen community schools performed well on the performance index, which is a weighted measure of individual student assessment scores. CPE said those schools deserve further examination, but overall charters fall short compared to district schools. Only 7% of charter schools would rate in the top half of traditional public schools on the performance index rankings.

"We are encouraged that legislative changes in charter school accountability over the past few years seem to be having a positive impact, but are concerned that loosening those measures - as was done this summer in House Bill 153- will cause these modest gains to be quickly lost," Ohio Parent Teacher Association President Gloria Cazan said.

"This improvement happened with better accountability standards implemented, not the hands-off approach lawmakers took in the first eight years of the charter school program."

When it comes to the poster child of the failed charter experiment, White Hat Management, this is the best they can say about themselves

"This year's academic data highlights the challenges faced by some of our schools," CEO Tom Barrett said. "We're focused on improvement and will redouble our efforts to improve the quality of instruction and outcomes for our students."

It's clearly time to reevaluate their continued provision of education in Ohio, especially in light of the continued improvement of Ohio's traditional schools and the negative impact failing charters are having on that improvement.

State Charter Law Punishes Ohio’s Largest Districts