by KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman

Fifty-two million kids are starting school this year and the National Education Association’s vice-president, Lily Ekelson, says there won’t be enough teachers to give them what they need. Although administrators don’t want to increase class size, their budgets are making those decisions.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average class size in US elementary schools dropped from 24 pupils in 1993 to 20 in 2007. In Chicago, high school classes will rise to 33 this year.

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A recent article in the Hechinger Report looks at the class size picture. While smaller classes certainly appeal to teachers and parents— making it easier to get to know students and their needs, decades of research have found the relationship between class size and student outcomes “murky” or “marginal.”

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Although an increase of more than five students will make teaching and learning harder, what more and more research does show is that teacher effectiveness is really what matters. That’s the current direction of the Gates Foundation.