Estimating the Cost of National Class Size Reductions Under Different Policy Alternatives

by Dominic J. Brewer, Cathy Krop, Brian Gill, Robert Reichardt

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The authors estimate the operational costs of nationwide class size reduction (CSR) programs under various policy alternatives, including the specified class size, flexibility in implementation, and whether the policy is targeted toward at-risk students. Depending on the specific options chosen, the estimated costs vary from about $2 billion per year to over $11 billion per year. These estimates could be further increased by teacher salary hikes necessitated by the rapid increase in the demand for teachers that results from CSR. Policymakers considering such a policy on a large scale should question whether it is the most cost-effective way of boosting student achievement.

Originally published in: Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v. 21, no. 2, Summer 1999, pp. 179-192.

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