The Washington Post

Test scores don’t justify cost of smaller classes, Brookings’ Chingos says

As classroom sizes get larger as a way to deal with education budget restrictions, some critics argue that the policy change only hurts the students.

But Matthew Chingos, fellow in the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, says there’s no one size fits all solution and smaller classes don’t necessarily yield the effective results most assume they would.

“If you look over the last couple of decades, the number of kids per teacher has gone down. . .But [if] you look at test scores over the same period of time and they really been very flat,” says Chingos. “So, if there really is a big benefit of smaller classes, it’s what we’ve been doing the last couple of decades and it doesn’t appear that it’s gotten us very much. So, it’s not that it makes no difference, it’s that it doesn’t make that much of a difference—and certainly not in comparison to what it costs to do it.”

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.


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