Title

The Effects of Class Size on Student Performance in Reading in the Primary Grades

Date of Award

12-1-2002

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of class size on reading achievement of primary grade students in the Bismarck (North Dakota) Public Schools. Data for the study included using scores from the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test (Fourth Edition). The results on the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test were analyzed according to grade, gender, socioeconomic status, race, and class size. Students in the study were identified as having been in either small classes (17 or less) or large classes (22 or more). Three years of data (1999–2002) were analyzed as part of the small class study. A second source of data was gathered from a teacher survey instrument that was distributed to all teachers employed by the Bismarck Public Schools for the 2001–2002 school year who taught in classrooms identified as small or large. This survey measures teachers' perceptions regarding instructional practices, classroom management, and time allotment.

Results indicated that there was no significant difference in reading achievement scores of first grade, second grade, or third grade students who were placed in small compared to large classrooms. There was a significant difference in female students' reading achievement when they were placed in small sized classrooms. When the achievement of Native American students was compared to Caucasian students, there was a significant different in reading achievement scores by Caucasian students in small sized classrooms. There was also a significant difference in reading achievement scores by students not on free-reduced meal plans. Consequently, this study does not suggest that small class size is an equalizer for Native American students, males, or students who are economically disadvantaged. The major finding from the teacher survey showed that teachers in large sized classrooms had more current professional development on reading strategies, which may have contributed to the class size achievement showing no significance when in small sized classrooms. By using analysis of variance (ANOVA), the study found that the following items were significantly different when teachers in small sized and large sized classrooms were compared: teaching leans toward students as individuals rather than towards the class in general (.016), time spent on disciplining the class (.008), time working with small groups (.041), time spent with students one on one (.017), time spent working with students on special projects (.004), and time spent developing creative projects for the class (.008).

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