Investing in smaller class size: Focusing the debate

An EPI Policy Seminar

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Read The Class Size Debate

Americans rank education as the top issue in the 2000 election. In view of that, policy debates on whether to increase school spending for such things as teacher compensation, professional development, and smaller classes or to shift spending to private school vouchers loom large.

Professor Eric Hanushek has asserted that greater school spending and lower pupil-teacher ratios have not systematically been associated with higher student achievement. He prefers instead to focus on accountability and higher teacher quality. His analysis of existing research has greatly influenced the national debate. Professor Alan Krueger re-evaluates the evidence on which Hanushek bases his claims and concludes that class size does matter and that the economic benefits exceed the costs. Krueger will present the conclusions outlined in a paper to be released at this briefing as part of a volume that includes Hanushek’s response, as well as an introduction by EPI Research Associate Richard Rothstein. These provide the framework for a response by Jennifer King Rice, a leading school finance expert, who will examine class-size reduction as part of a school reform package.

Featured panelists:

Alan B. Krueger
Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives Understanding the Magnitude and Effect of Class Size on Student Achievement

Eric A. Hanushek
Senior Fellow on Education Policy, Hoover Institution, Stanford University Evidence, Politics, and the Class Size Debate

Jennifer King Rice
Assistant Professor, Department of Education Policy and Leadership, University of Maryland; EPI Research Associate

Moderated by Lawrence Mishel, Vice President, EPI

This event was recorded on Thursday October 19, 2000 at the National Press Club.