School of Education News

Graue explains to Journal Sentinel how costs of implementing small classes can be significant

March 19, 2019

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on how smaller class sizes can benefit students of color, with the article featuring the insight of UW-Madison’s Elizabeth Graue. 

Graue is the Sorenson Professor with the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and the director of the Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (CRECE).

Elizabeth Graue
The Journal Sentinel explains how a Wisconsin program, Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR), started during the 1996-97 school year. Money from the AGR program can be spent on class size reduction in kindergarten through third grade, with a goal of a student-to-teacher ratio of 18-to-1 or 30-to-2 in mind. 

A study conducted on Wisconsin’s Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program showed that SAGE students in first grade performed better in reading, language arts, and mathematics than peers who were in larger classrooms. According to the Journal Sentinel, the study showed that African-American SAGE students scored significantly higher than non-SAGE peers. 

The newspaper examines why class size reduction isn’t a goal everywhere, noting the research, expense, and quality issues to consider.

Graue tells the Journal Sentinel that the costs associated with implementing smaller classes can be significant.

“Class-size reduction is a huge investment," Graue tells the newspaper. "It costs a lot of money, requires a lot of space. In places that have done wholesale class-size reduction … they had unintended consequences because of that, where they ended up having to emergency certify teachers to be able to cover all the classes, and those teachers weren’t well-educated to be able to take advantage of small class sizes.”

Read the entire Journal Sentinel report here

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