EduWonk Andrew Rotherham opines that reducing class size without addressing teacher quality more broadly is akin to continually adding pitchers to your bullpen without worrying about whether any of them can even throw a fastball.
And Mike Rebell tells the New York Daily News, "As co-counsel for those who brought the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, I know how important class size reduction ultimately will be. But improving the quality of our teachers and principals must be priority No. 1. And a premature class-size reduction mandate is likely to lower the general quality of the teaching staff at a time when we desperately need to be raising it."
Arguably THE most consistent variable that affects student achievement is teacher quality and there is no substitute for that. But class size reductions help good teachers help struggling students.
Locally, some have misunderstood the class size issue - and have done away with the effort all together. In the past year, following a 12-point gain and the removal of the principal, Harrison Elementary doubled its class sizes - and promises to raise scores. Harrison has a high percentage of low SES kids and a fierce mobility rate. Reports indicate that about half of the students who begin the school year at Harrison, finish there. Student behavior has been described to me as a daily concern.
Not knowing anything first-hand about programs at work in the school this year, I'll bet a nickle that Harrison loses all or part of its 12-point gain in the next testing cycle. I'd bet more...but the test has been reworked and we don't really know how the new test will equate to the old test.
Class size really matters. But not as much as teacher quality.