Does class size matter? Many teachers are adamant it is crucial

April 18, 2019

By Caroline Alphonso


Thomas Dee, a Barnett Family professor of education at Stanford University, argued it’s equally beneficial to lower class sizes in the later grades, because it improves certain skills, such as students’ motivation to learn and their engagement in lessons, all of which leads to graduation.

Prof. Dee and his colleague researched the effects of class sizes in the middle-school years, and found that exposure to smaller classes in Grade 8 led to improvements in student engagement that were still detectable, though smaller, two years later. He acknowledged it was an expensive venture, but he said his research found “there’s still quite a reasonable and positive return on those investments.”

Ontario’s move to increase class-size averages, while it would save money on teachers, “I would expect that it would lead to some skill reduction among students as well as reductions in their motivation and engagement that would ultimately translate to poorer labour market outcomes in adulthood,” Prof. Dee said.

"That’s a pretty substantial cost to pay,” he added.