The impact of class size on educational outcomes is a political issue, and that influences and clouds much of the research on the topic. (I regard this, and other examples of the politicisation of science, as an absolute condemnation of our society, but that’s an aside for another day). None the less the balance of the evidence is clear – and blindingly obvious to common sense – smaller classes lead to better educational outcomes. And perhaps the government is coming to its senses on the topic:
Govt rethinks move to bigger class sizes
The Government has agreed to set up a working party to look at the effect of new class ratio formulas on intermediate and middle schools – effectively an admission it blundered on that aspect of the policy.
About 215 schools providing technology subjects (cooking, sewing, art, ICT, woodwork and metalwork) for other schools could be affected more adversely than the Government expected. …
But senior government sources are pointing the finger at the Ministry of Education for advising Ms Parata wrongly on the effect on schools with a large number of Year 7 and 8 pupils (form one and two). … She expected 90 per cent of schools to lose or gain one full-time equivalent teacher and 10 per cent more than one. But some intermediate principals have calculated they could lose as many as five and that has come as a surprise to the Government.
“What has become really clear in that is that the Year 7 and 8 have had a 10-year provision for technology, the provision of which was not fully modelled,” Ms Parata said. …
No points for making up policy on the back of an envelope. Credit where it’s due, however, for recognising that a mistake has been made, and starting the backdown process. Now if only the same mental flexibility could be applied to the government’s other educational bungles, like national standards, and charter schools.