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2006

Vol 1, No 1 (2006): Small Classes in the Early Grades and Course Taking in High School

Researchers examined the relationship between small-class participation in the first four years of school and course-taking patterns in high school. Using original data from Tennessee's Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) with high school transcripts for 3,922 students from the STAR experiment, the hypothesis that class size is related to the amount and level of coursework taken in mathematics, science, and foreign language was tested. Results indicated that students who spent three or more years in small classes took more foreign language courses, higher-level foreign language courses, and higher-level mathematics courses than did students in full-size classes. The possibility that small-class participation would benefit low-SES students more than high-SES students was also explored, but no evidence was found of an SES-specific effect. The results are discussed in terms of (a) using class-size policies to promote the taking of advanced courses in high school, and (b) the need to consider long-term outcomes when evaluating class-size reduction initiatives.

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