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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Small Class Sizes and Health

Several years ago, when my kids were in a public elementary school, a couple of other concerned parents and I started a parent group to raise enough money to pay an extra teacher to keep the 4 - 6 grade class sizes low, because it was obvious that 30 kids in a classroom was too many, and every teacher and parent seemed to know it. Sadly, when I called the dean at a local university School of Education to get some support for small class size, she said something along the lines of - oh why bother - research suggests kids are fine in larger class sizes, which seemed ridiculous. Well, not being one to believe what I am told, we raised the money anyway, and for two years were able to keep the class sizes in our school down to 20, K - 6th.

I love these moments in life because lo and behold, we were just a little before our time! An article was just published in the American Journal of Public Health suggesting that class size reductions would generate a net cost savings of approximately $168,000 and a net gain of 1.7 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYS) for each high school graduate produced by small classes. When targeted to low-income students, the estimated savings would increase to $196,000 per additional graduate. The authors conclude that reducing class sizes may be more cost-effective than than most public health and medical interventions!

This is great news and yes, I admit it is greater because it matches what I believe - fewer kids in a classroom means more learning!

Photo Credit: krissi AKA Kiki

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.