Despite its high test scores and graduation rates, Massachusetts, like the rest of the United States, still struggles with opportunity gaps and giving every child an equitable education.
As part of the ongoing Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity project, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has released a new policy brief designed to help advocates and educators make the case for expanding access to one particular resource in school: smaller class sizes.
Reducing class sizes is a proven reform strategy for schools, especially when used in earlier grades or in classrooms with high needs students. The MassBudget brief highlights a few case studies from other state-level initiatives to reduce class sizes. The STAR project in Tennessee and the SAGE program in Wisconsin not only demonstrated better results while students were in the smaller classes, but showed that students continued benefiting in the long run. In both programs, African-American students demonstrated a considerably higher rate of improvement than their white peers.
Identifying these types of researched-backed reforms and how they could be applied and scaled up in Massachusetts is the goal of the Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity project, which is a joint endeavor between MassBudget and the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy. For Massachusetts to make small class sizes available to more students in the early grades, MassBudget calculates the state would need to hire about 1,840 more teachers, which would cost the state approximately $161 million dollars.